Charlie Kirk takes to the Arcada Theatre stage to decry mask mandates
After making national headlines for accusing the Super Bowl halftime show of promoting "sexual anarchy," conservative activist Charlie Kirk was at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles Wednesday night for what he was promoting as a "no forced masks" rally.
The rally came on the heels of a downstate judge's recent ruling to temporarily restrain school districts across the state from enforcing Gov. J.B. Pritzker's COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates. Kirk, who attended Wheeling High School, said he has been watching with interest recent student-led protests surrounding the mask mandate.
"So this is personal for me," Kirk told the crowd. "I saw these heroic and courageous students that were willing to sacrifice everything they had. And the thing that matters most in high school is social status. For a high school student, going against the grain, that's a big deal. I was just so inspired by that."
Kirk is the founder and executive director of Turning Point USA. According to its website, the organization's mission is to "identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government."
The judge's order stems from a consolidated lawsuit filed by Greenville attorney Thomas DeVore on behalf of parents of students and affecting more than 100 Illinois school districts. DeVore was one of the speakers at Wednesday's rally.
"People got more power than they could ever imagine," DeVore told the crowd. "You can do it, I know you can. But you know what we need? We need somebody to have your back. We need elected officials that first and foremost respect the people."
Before the start of the rally, St. Charles School District parent Barbara Diepenbrock was leading a small protest next to the Arcada Theatre.
"The message I'm trying to deliver to them is that they haven't won completely," Diepenbrock said. "As long as there's some people who care enough to stand up to them and say what you're doing is wrong, they haven't completely won. I won't give up."
Diepenbrock believes the mask mandate should stay in place for children.
"Especially for those children up to age 12," she said. "Because there are a lot of parents that aren't comfortable getting their kids vaccinated yet."