Viral footage taken by a pet shop attendant in Palm Springs, California has gone viral after it recorded a maskless woman calling 9-1-1 to report discrimination. The shop attended refused to let her in the store without a mask.
Aidan Bearpaw, a queer employee at the Bones-N-Scones pet store posted the video to social media following the encounter last week. In it, the woman claims she can’t wear a mask because of anxiety, and threatens to call the police if Bearpaw refuses to let her in the store without one.
“As per the 1964 Civil Rights Act, I cannot be discriminated against,” the woman rants. “I do have a right to breathe O2 not CO2 and I am being discriminated against right now. I have a religious exemption right and a God-given right to breathe O2 not CO2. Yes, medical exemption too.”
Bearpaw had the good sense to know that the woman didn’t have her facts correct, and refused to let her in. She eventually left after calling 9-1-1 and being told by a dispatcher that she needed to obey a city-wide mask mandate. Unfortunately, Bearpaw encountered the police again the following day after the woman dialed 9-1-1 again, apparently furious at footage of the encounter going viral.
“She was feeling the public backlash and dispatched police on me again,” Bearpaw told The New York Post. “My bosses were initially furious. It was very possible I was going to be fired. My co-workers were all very supportive and made it clear there would be consequences if I was terminated.”
Fortunately, Bearpaw’s superiors eventually came around after he became a local celebrity, drawing more customers into the store to congratulate and even take pictures of him. His manager, Jay Smith, later commended Bearpaw as “a shining example of how just doing what’s right, standing your ground, overcomes [stupidity and harasament].”
“Aiden won for all of us,” Smith told local news station KESQ. “He didn’t just win for Bones-N-Scones, he won for the city of Palm Springs, for the United States and for humanity in general.”
Here’s hoping Aiden gets a raise for his good sense.