Taking Back Our Stolen History
SF and Many Cities Reinstitute Mask Mandate which leads to Creation of Anti-Mask League
SF and Many Cities Reinstitute Mask Mandate which leads to Creation of Anti-Mask League

SF and Many Cities Reinstitute Mask Mandate which leads to Creation of Anti-Mask League

As the contagion moved into its second year, so did the mask skepticism.

On Dec. 17, 1918, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors reinstituted the mask ordinance after deaths started to climb, a trend that spilled over into the new year with 1,800 flu cases and 101 deaths reported there in the first five days of January.

That board’s decision led to the creation of the Anti-Mask League, a sign that resistance to masks was resurfacing as cities tried to reimpose orders to wear them when infections returned.

The league was led by a woman, E.J. Harrington, a lawyer, social activist and political opponent of the mayor. About a half-dozen other women filled its top ranks. Eight men also joined, some of them representing unions, along with two members of the Board of Supervisors who had voted against masks.

“The masks turned into a political symbol,” Dolan said.

On Jan. 25, the league held its first organizational meeting, open to the public at the Dreamland Rink, where they united behind demands for the repeal of the mask ordinance and for the resignations of the mayor and health officials.

On Jan. 27, the league protested at a Board of Supervisors meeting, but the mayor held his ground. There were hisses and cries of “freedom and liberty,” Dolan wrote in his paper on the epidemic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.