A Florida anti-masker compared himself to the hero of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life on Tuesday, when he was filmed misquoting the movie while facing off with security guards over coronavirus rules at Walt Disney World.
Multiple videos captured from the scene show a maskless man denouncing the park’s COVID-19 safety measures, before characterizing himself as the rebellious ant who led an uprising against grasshoppers in A Bug’s Life. The man has since been identified as Rob Fields, a preacher and conspiracy theorist with thousands of followers on Facebook.
Security escorted Fields out of the park for refusing to wear a mask. Several witnesses have since shared footage of his rant.
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The videos show a long-haired, maskless man shouting at security guards as they advance on him at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
“Remember the movie that came out at Walt Disney World?” Fields shouts. “It was called A Bug’s Life! Remember Hopper? He said, ‘If one guy stands up, one ant stands up, everyone will all stand up at once, and they’ll have no control!”
Fields appeared to be paraphrasing the film’s villain, Hopper, who warned his fellow grasshoppers about ants rebelling against their protection racket scheme.
“You let one ant stand up to us, then they might all stand up,” he says in the film.
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Fields was deliberately “challenging this mask thing,” according to a video posted on his verified Facebook page. The video includes several edited encounters with security guards. Fields can be seen wearing the same clothing he wore in the Bug’s Life rant, but that rant is not included on his Facebook page.
Fields live-streamed his one-man demonstration in a two-and-a-half-hour video from the park on Tuesday, Storyful reports. That video has since been deleted, but others have downloaded it and reposted it elsewhere.
The lengthy video shows Fields falsely claiming that COVID-19 death numbers are inflated, and encouraging people to repent and embrace Jesus Christ.
“My face and my lungs are private property,” he wrote on his Facebook page after the incident. He also posted the clip he was citing from A Bug’s Life.
Walt Disney World re-opened in the spring with a mandatory mask rule for all visitors except for those under the age of two. The park only permits people to take off their masks while eating, drinking or swimming.
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Fields’ footage shows several masked security guards urging him to “head out.”
“Sir, I need you to keep walking,” the guards can be heard telling him.
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Another part of the video shows park staff telling police that Fields was refusing to wear a mask. An office then explains to Fields that he must obey the rules on private property or he can be banned. Finally, a park staffer can be seen telling Fields that he is banned.
“I was thrown out of Walt Disney World on ‘Burn Your Mask Day,’” Fields claimed on Facebook.
There is no actual “Burn Your Mask Day.”
Health officials around the world recommend wearing masks to avoid spreading the coronavirus through respiratory droplets expelled through a person’s nose and mouth.
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Walt Disney World did not respond to Global News’ request for comment.
The incident is just the latest in a wave of anti-science, conspiracy theory-driven outbursts against pandemic safety measures.
Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reaffirmed the importance of masks during a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.
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“We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defence,” Redfield said. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has frequently contradicted science on the virus, claimed on Wednesday that Redfield “made a mistake” with his comments.
The president rarely wears a mask in public and his supporters largely do not don masks for his rallies.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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