BuzzFeed News shared a woman’s now-viral TikTok video in which she — a grocery store worker — can be seen telling customers who aren’t wearing masks to suit up or leave the store.
What are the details?
Liz Chavez, a grocery store worker in California, went viral for her video featuring her interactions with customers who refuse to wear masks.
In one instance, Chavez can be seen approaching a woman who identifies herself as Lenka Koloma.
Koloma and a female companion both wear large badges that read “FTBA” — or “Freedom to Breathe Agency” — and tell Chavez that they will not comply with the store’s request to mask up because they are exempt.
“No, we’re not required to wear a mask,” Koloma tells Chavez, as the other woman says the two are from the FTBA and informs her of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Koloma says that the two belong to a “we the people” organization, and are “making sure that people’s constitutional rights” as well as “civil and federal laws are not broken.”
“You personally need to take this to your manager, because you personally can be sued for this, OK?” Koloma tells Chavez while handing the employee a piece of paper. “You are putting yourself into a major legal liability — you personally.”
Chavez told BuzzFeed News that the piece of paper was a slip telling her she could be sentenced to jail for three to five years for trying to enforce masks inside the store if she is not a practicing physician.
Chavez complained, “They weren’t there to shop. They honestly were probably just waiting for somebody to come up to them and ask them to wear a mask so they could do this.”
It is important to note that the FTBA is not a real government agency despite a Department of Justice seal displayed on the women’s placards.
The cards insist that wearers are exempt from wearing a mask under the “Americans with Disability [sic] Act.”
“Denying access to your business/organization will also be reported to FTBA for further action,” the cards read.
U.S. Attorney Matthew G. T. Martin told the outlet, “Do not be fooled by the chicanery and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle. These cards to not carry the force of law. The ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency,’ or ‘FTBA,’ is not a government agency.”
‘You’re too stupid to understand it’
In another instance, Chavez can be seen approaching another shopper who is clearly without a mask.
The shopper can be heard saying, “I don’t give a crap.”
The shopper later tells Chavez that she is engaging in Nazi-like behavior by trying to enforce the statewide mask mandate, even going as far as to deliver a Nazi salute to Chavez.
“It’s Nazism,” the shopper tells Chavez. “And you’re so young you don’t know what Nazism is. Because you weren’t even born when Hitler took over and they used the exact same tactics.”
The shopper later complies and puts on the mask — but only wraps it around his neck, not covering his face or mouth at all.
“This whole thing is a godd*** lie, and you’re too stupid to understand it,” the shopper adds.
‘It happens all the time’
When contacted for comment, Koloma told the outlet that both she and the woman suffer from undisclosed “medical, health conditions” and also hold “religious beliefs” that prevent them from wearing a mask. She insisted that Chavez could be arrested because telling someone to wear a mask for medical purposes without being a doctor is akin to impersonation.
“We are a legitimate organization,” she insisted. “We introduced ourselves as FTBA, the Freedom to Breathe Agency. There’s nothing illegal or fraudulent.”
Chavez said that she runs into people like this in the grocery store all of the time.
“They just give us all sorts of excuses for why they shouldn’t wear one,” she explained. “It happens all the time. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal. We have to wear them for our entire shift. They only have to wear them for the 10, 20 minutes they’re in the store.”