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Anti-maskers protest outside Cheektowaga's Galleria

Mike Desmond / WBFO News
Protesters lined Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga Monday.

Hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo eased mask rules, protesters were along Walden Avenue outside the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga protesting masks.

Masks have been a flashpoint since the pandemic began, with doctors saying early on that they didn't make any difference. That shifted later on, leading to a profusion of mask rules indoors and outdoors.

Some indoor rules still exist in New York State and private businesses can require masks to enter their premises. Masks are also still required inside schools, but the governor made clear Monday they aren't required outside, whether or not a person is vaccinated.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Protester Peter Harding said he's a constitutionalist and an American.

"Everybody should be able to choose whether they wear a mask or their child wears a mask or not," Harding said. "If the masks are indeed effective, then if you're wearing a mask you should be protected. So our position is, you have your freedom to choose for your child. If you're a teacher, you have the freedom to chose for you."

Many of the protesters were accompanied by their children, some waving posters with slogans like "Unmask our Children" and "No Mandatory Vax." Many of the kids at the protest were too young to be vaccinated.

Protester Renee Aronica said she has children who have been vaccinated, but they won't be vaccinated against COVID.

"The chance of survival for COVID is 99.7% in grade school children and I'm not putting an experimental vaccine into my daughter's body," Aronia said.

Protester Anna Niedermeier is part of a group involved in a court case against required masks.

"It should be the parent's choice," Niedermeier said. "It's reached the point, in my opinion, where I think parents should get the right to choose what they think is best for their children. The plaintiffs that I represent, the people that are in our suit, we're not here to shame parents that would like to mask their children. If you feel that's what's in the best interest of your child, you should do that."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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