California woman convicted of refusing to wear mask in store

COVID-19 mask generic
Posted at 11:25 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 14:25:27-04

WESTMINSTER, Calif. (CNS) — A 57-year-old mask protester was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to 40 hours of community service for refusing to wear a face-covering in a Mother's Market last summer.

Marianne Campbell Smith was convicted of single misdemeanor counts each of trespassing with the intent to interfere with business and obstructing or intimidating a business or customers.

Co-defendant Jennifer Marie Sterling pleaded no contest June 9 to an infraction for refusing to leave upon an owner's request.

About 1:15 p.m., Aug. 15, 2020, Smith and two other women went to Mother's Market in Costa Mesa at 1890 Newport Blvd., where face masks were required to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a trial brief filed by prosecutors.

Smith participated in a mask protest outside the store, and when officers arrived about two dozen other activists were outside calling the police "Nazis," prosecutors said.

The three pushed their way into the store, where they walked around without face coverings. They were asked to leave five times, but refused, prosecutors said.

As others were making their way into the store, the employees were alarmed and shut the doors, prosecutors said. All of the customers inside were escorted out, prosecutors said.

Before police arrived, Smith attempted to buy a bag of chips and salad, but the cashier refused to complete the transaction, prosecutors said. Smith tossed a $5 bill on the counter and turned to leave, prosecutors said.

While in the store, Smith told another customer who was wearing a face covering, "You don't have to be scared. It's all a lie," prosecutors said.

Smith was also carrying a sign that read, "Economic Health = Public Health" and "Healthy People Do Not Wear Masks," prosecutors said.

When an officer asked her if she refused to wear a mask for her cause, she said, "Yes, but also for our freedom," prosecutors said.

Smith told the officers she went into the store to buy a bottle of water, but they wouldn't let her and she claimed she was being discriminated against because she had a medical exemption from wearing a mask, prosecutors said.

Smith also said she was a nurse and often wore scrubs to her pretrial hearings, prompting prosecutors to request that she not be allowed to wear a medical uniform at her trial.