'Don't be a sheep:' Washington sheriff suggests residents defy statewide mask mandate

LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. -- A sheriff in Washington State insinuated that those following a statewide mask mandate amid the coronavirus pandemic were “sheep,” footage taken by a local journalist on Tuesday, June 23 shows.

“In case you guys didn’t hear, Governor Inslee, in his infinite wisdom, has decided after over 100-some-odd days, that we should all wear face masks, inside and out," said Lewis County sheriff Rob Snaza, referring to a decree issued by the Washington governor earlier on June 23. “Here’s what I say, don’t be a sheep."

Snaza made his remarks outside Bethel Church, in Chehalis, about 75 miles southwest of Washington, where locals had gathered, reportedly in response to petitions about a controversial local sign, and to counter a rumored appearance by “antifa.” Some of those present were armed.

Snaza later attempted to clarify his remarks to local TV station KOMO News, telling the channel that he and his colleagues wear masks in their office.

On June 25, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office released a statement encouraging “the public use of all forms of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

The statement went on to assure local residents that “under Washington law there is nothing prohibiting the wearing of a facial covering while carrying a concealed handgun.”

Snaza’s twin brother, John Snaza, is the sheriff of neighboring Thurston County, which includes the city of Olympia. On June 24, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office issued its own statement on Inslee’s mask mandate, saying it would urge residents to wear them, but said it would “be inappropriate to criminally enforce this mandate” due to “the minor nature” of the offense, and “the possibility for a negative outcome during an enforcement encounter.” Deputies would also not be expected to wear face coverings as applying the mask may delay them during emergencies, the statement said.