James William Smith, 40, of Prairie Grove, Washington County, Arkansas, United States wore scrubs when he attended the city council meeting in Fayetteville, Washington County on September 7, 2021. He was not wearing a mask despite Fayetteville’s mask mandate for public buildings amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
During the meeting, Smith sat in the front row in the city hall’s chamber along with other maskless individuals including children. When Fayetteville mayor Lioneld Jordan, 67, asked them if they had a medical condition that would exempt them from the mask mandate, Smith said they had a condition causing suffering from unacceptably high levels of carbon dioxide while wearing a mask.
“I’m going to have to ask you all to leave,” 5 News quoted Jordan as saying. “Everybody that doesn’t have a mask on has to leave.”
Some of the maskless attendees left the room but Smith said he would not leave unless officers enforced the mask mandate then asked to be arrested or be given a ticket. Fayetteville Police Department chief Mike Reynolds said Smith would be arrested in connection with criminal trespassing for refusing to leave after the mayor asked.
“This is what we’ve come to,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette quoted Smith as saying while being handcuffed. Aside from being charged with criminal trespassing, he also received a citation for violating Fayetteville’s mask ordinance.
The Prairie Grove resident was booked into the Washington County Detention Center in Fayetteville but was later released on bond. He is expected to appear in court on October 7, 2021.
Fayetteville was founded in 1828. It is the county seat of Washington County.
Jordan was first elected as the Fayetteville mayor in 2008. He was reelected in 2008, in 2012, in 2016 and in 2020.