But over the months, none of the people he bought lunch for or helped raise funds for their organizations stood up for him. A former soldier whom he considered a friend even joined the Enid Freedom Fighters. He felt like he lived in a city that no longer recognized him.
The attention he received was threatening at times. Her daughter, 7 at the time, was harassed at school because of her position. Military security at the base where Mr. Waddell now works as a civilian in charge of computer operations took him aside to share threats against him, while noting that they did not believe they would result in measurements. He started checking a home security camera through an app on his phone.
âThere’s just this vitriol in this place that we have chosen,â said Mr. Waddell, who is 41. âWe are excluded from the community we have chosen. It’s kind of a surreal feeling.
The city commissioner who introduced the mask’s tenure, lawyer and artist Ben Ezzell, has also received veiled warnings – mostly via email and Facebook. Someone threw trash on his lawn. At a city council meeting, a man shouted that he knew where Mr. Ezzell lived. Another meeting became so tense that the police insisted on escorting her to her car.
But Mr. Ezzell, who is 35, was not done arguing for the mandate. As summer turned into fall and Covid cases began to increase, it seemed like the logical thing to do. So he continued to talk about it in meetings, prompting Ms Crabtree and the freedom fighters to begin the process of trying to call him back in order to arrest him. She also accused him of acting disrespectfully, for example, using profanity and doodling during people’s speeches. (He said he drew lemmings walking on cliffs to keep calm, especially when commenting sessions from emotional residents lasted for hours.)
A prominent supporter of the recall effort was Ms Crabtree’s pastor, Wade Burleson, whose church, Emmanuel Enid, is the largest in town. Enid has a sizable upper middle class, with large homes and a gated community near a country club and golf course, and many of these families are part of the church’s 3,000-member congregation.