No issues reported at ‘mask-free’ event in Apple Valley

Jose Quintero
| Victorville Daily Press

Authorities did not report any issues at Saturday’s “mask-free” event at the Jess Ranch Marketplace, organized by people online in an apparent protest of COVID-19 protocols.

A flyer made rounds on social media Thursday and Friday, and a Facebook user who shared the flyer posted that the event’s purpose was to “encourage people who want to be mask free but may be afraid, to take off their masks & to let businesses know that we will not tolerate discrimination for those of us who choose to live mask free.”

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Cindy Bachman said Sunday that she was unaware of any complaints or incidents that occurred at the Apple Valley complex. 

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) requires Californians to wear face coverings in most settings outside the home and while outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

However, outside of state agencies such as the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which has the power to sanction bars and restaurants that serve alcohol if they violate health orders, enforcement of mask orders is largely left to county and city authorities.  

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s officials on Friday were aware of the flyer and said the owner of the complex — Newport Beach-based JH Real Estate Partners — was also aware and going to have extra security there.  

Calls to Athena Property Management, which manages the Jess Ranch Marketplace, were unsuccessful Sunday with an automated message directing callers to try again during normal business hours. 

The event was supposed to start at Target, where face coverings are required for customers, and then move toward other stores in the complex from 10 a.m. to noon. 

At the shopping center Saturday around 11 a.m., there were no large groups of people seen. 

In the parking lot, Navy veteran Bill Young, a fixture at the intersection of Bear Valley and Apple Valley roads, sat in his motorized scooter with various flags in support of Donald Trump attached and was seen conversing with various people.

At one point, a white Jeep, playing a song by rappers YG and Nipsey Hussle called “FDT” — an anti-Trump anthem — was parked outside Target, with one person recording a video with a cell phone and flipping off Young, who had approached the vehicle.  

Sitting in an empty section of the parking lot was a man who set up a table with various signs inviting people to sign a petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

A security guard was seen standing outside of a store in the shopping center, and several deputy units patrolled the parking lot. 

A deputy at the shopping center said there were no complaints, and “everything was OK.” 

Daily Press reporter Jose Quintero may be reached at 760-951-6274 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @DP_JoseQ.

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