Protesters In HP Decry Mask Requirements

A day after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins signed an executive order requiring masks in many indoor settings amid a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, a modest crowd of protesters gathered outside a Highland Park townhome believed to belong to Jenkins chanting “we will not comply,” “I can’t breathe,” and “no freedom, no peace.”

Jenkins’ order signed Wednesday requires masks in childcare and pre-K-12 schools, county buildings, and commercial entities for everyone older than 2 years of age. It was revised Thursday to include public colleges and universities. 

(Read: Jenkins Amends Order to Include Colleges and Universities)

Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Wednesday, shortly after Dallas County’s mask order was signed, that they’d filed for injunctive relief, arguing the law favored Abbott.

(ReadJudge Rules in Favor of TRO Against Abbott’s Executive Order)

Despite that, the protesters against the mask requirement outside the home Thursday didn’t all appear to be in Abbott’s corner either. The protesters carried signs saying “we will not comply,” “no masks in the HPISD,” and “don’t mask our children,” and some supporting Gov. Greg Abbott’s GOP primary opponent Don Huffines. 

Huffines, a former state senator, announced his intent to run against Abbott in the gubernatorial primary in May. 

Huffines’ daughter, Deirdre Hairston, made headlines back in March after she refused to comply with requests to wear a mask during Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and was escorted out by police.

Sara Wilcox was among the protesters and said she has a 5 year old that attends school in Highland Park ISD and a 4 year old who attends a private school and argued children shouldn’t be required to wear masks in schools.

Another protester also yelled “take your mask off” to a masked journalist, and still another insisted “there’s no COVID outside.”

Highland Park Department of Public Safety staff were on scene to monitor the protest. 

Dallas County’s mask mandate, and the backlash against it, comes amid a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations attributed to the highly contagious delta variant. 

D CEO’s Will Maddox reported Thursday that there are zero staffed pediatric ICU beds available in the 19 counties that comprise Trauma Service Area E, with Children’s Medical Center reporting a patient census that has increased 600% since June 20, when there were just six pediatric COVID patients.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at

6 thoughts on “Protesters In HP Decry Mask Requirements

  • August 13, 2021 at 7:49 am

    I have a great deal of respect for this journalist (she covers the nitty gritty and goings on around here, and is quite responsive), but this piece is extremely frustrating as it does not address any of the reasons for the protest. What is the point of using my name if you include ZERO of the arguments I made in our 5 minute discussion? Those were:

    Any child who wants to wear a mask should be free to do so. But forcing them to make sacrifices for adults is absurd. Here’s why:

    — Will Clay also be banning the things that have a much higher childhood death rate than covid? Driving in cars, swimming in pools, diabetes (my first volunteer position in HPISD is ICE CREAM CASHIER!?!)
    — There is great psychological harm with widespread masking: Facial expressions are critical for young children learning how to signal fear, confusion and happiness.
    Covering these can cause anxiety, depression, and lack of phonetic development. Seeing faces is especially important for children with disabilities such as hearing impairment. Covid is here to stay. Will we cover our children forever??
    — Public-health officials like Clay Jenkins claim to base their decisions and guidance on “science,” but there’s no science behind mask mandates for children: Of the $42 billion the National Institutes of Health spent on research last year, less than 2% went to Covid clinical research and NOT ONE GRANT was dedicated to studying masks in children. (WSJ)
    — A North Carolina study conducted before vaccines were available found not a single case of student-to-teacher transmission when 90,000 students were in school. (WSJ)
    — There is a vaccine, and MANY of us have natural immunity from having had Covid, which God Forbid the CDC talks about! So give us the choice to mask our kids. Clay is not our elected governor, not even our mayor, not a teacher, not a doctor, and in fact – not even a judge – he is required to sign an affidavit about that in order to be in this role! Stop meddling.

    • August 13, 2021 at 9:51 am

      Thanks for your comment (and your emails). Our conversation was quite brief, and I asked you why you were there, whether you have students in the district (HPISD), and if you minded our using your name. You also handed me a list of talking points (similar to the ones you listed in this comment). I would invite you to write a letter to the editor. However, please be aware that we will need to run it through fact checking and editing, as we do with any submission.

    • August 20, 2021 at 3:43 pm

      “Great psychological harm in widespread masking”
      Dude … you know they make see-through masks for lip reading, right? If you really think kids not being able to see each other’s mouths in the short term is as irreparably harmful as the permanent loss of taste or smell, I’m sure every kid in your kid’s class would happily wear a clear mask just to accommodate your condition.

      (I’d aver that grownup parents straight-up booing and taunting well meaning children at a PTA meeting is vastly far more traumatizing than being forced to wear a dorky piece of cloth to catch one’s spittle.)

  • August 13, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    I have heard from pediatricians that much of the current situation in pediatric ICU’s is due to RSV rather than COVID. It is a bad situation, no doubt, and it does mean that there aren’t any/many beds available for children who do have severe COVID cases, but I think the media could do better to accurately report on the situation instead of implying that the pediatric ICU crisis is all due to COVID.

  • August 14, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Dear Park Cities Parents,

    Living in a society requires compromises. Stop acting like the faux, white rich people caricatures and recognize that this is a serious matter. Covid doesnt care if you are from HP. Neither do the billions of people who dont live there with you. An ice crezm cashier, spare us the dribble. Wear a mask. Get Covid under control. Go back to driving your Rsnge Rovers freely. It really is that simp!e. Let Clay Jenkins do the job he is doing. Thsnkfully someone doesnt bend to HP nonsense.


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