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Tahlequah PD: 'We made our first arrest affiliated with a mask ordinance violation'

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 08:16:58-04

TULSA, Okla. — Just days after the anniversary of Oklahoma's first COVID case, one local community made its first mask-related arrest.

Staff at a Tahlequah restaurant called police during a dispute over someone not wearing a mask. That someone ended up arrested and jailed.

Tahlequah police addressed mask incidents with callers and non-compliant people before. This time, it got physical. On the evening of March 10, police found the man outside a Mazzio's restaurant. At first, he refused to give his name.

In a video taken by the responding officer’s body camera, the conversation between the officer and the man can be heard.

“If you’re going to refuse, I’m going to take you to jail,” the officer warned.

“Then take me to jail,” the suspect replied.

As the officer then stepped toward the man, he said, “Go ahead and put your hands behind your back.”

The man initially resisted the officer. After being cuffed, he finally gave his name and said, “I'm so tired of people trying to run over me.”

“I'm not trying to run over you,” the officer said. “I’m just trying to do my job.”

Tahlequah’s chief of police, Nate King, released the incident's details during a social media live-stream.

“The employees told him he had to put one on,” King said. “He raised his hoodie up over his nose, walked to his seat, sat down and lowered his hoodie.”

The man was later asked to leave by restaurant staff.

Chief King said the man was arrested for obstructing an investigation and resisting arrest. He later posted bond.

The tussle was a bit surprising for Tahlequah police but mask refusal is not.

“You have a lot of the community that’s split as far as no mask or anti-mask,” King said.

2 Works for You reached out to the man involved in the incident, but he declined to speak. Tahlequah’s mask ordinance expires at the end of the month unless the council extends it.

The vice president of marketing for Mazzio’s, Stuart Myers, said they called 911 because the customer was being disruptive and using foul language, which, he said made the restaurant manager feel threatened and concerned. Myers also said they did not press charges against the customer nor do they plan to.

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