Nashville Metro Councilwoman Sharon Hurt attended a special joint meeting of the Public Safety and Health committee recently where she seemed to make the case that a violation of the city’s mask mandate should carry with it a heavy penalty up to and including murder or attempted murder.
Here is the transcript of her remarks:
Sharon W. Hurt: Thank you so much. My question goes back to legislation. And I don’t know if Mike Jameson can be the one to answer the question. But my concern is, you know I’ve worked for an organization that if they pass a virus then they are tried for murder or attempted murder if they are not told.
And this person who may very well pass this virus that’s out in the air because they are not wearing a mask is basically doing the same thing to someone who contracts it and dies from it. It seems to me that we have been more reactive as opposed to pro-active and a little too late too little. So my thing is that maybe there should be legislation.
Stronger legislation. I don’t know if Mike Jameson can speak to it. But maybe there needs to be stronger legislation to say that if you do not wear a mask and you subject exposure of this virus to someone else then there will be some stronger penalty as it is in other viruses that are exposed.
Mike Jameson: Thank you, councilwoman Hurt. Officers do have the discretion that if they encounter someone who is frequently violated the mask ordinance to take the conduct of that individual at hand and issue other citations for other criminal violations including, for example, disorderly conduct or even potentially assault.
You may have read about the episode where there was allegedly un-intentional coughing by someone into the face of another. The restraint we have is that the council does not have the opportunity on its own to create criminal legislation. That is a state creature.
We’re warranted by state law to apply criminal applications to violations. Just for example, as the state law allows us to apply to say Class C misdemeanors to health director ordered violations. But in terms of creating new code or class of criminal offenses that is a creature of state law.
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Jameson. Do you have anything further councilwoman Hurt?
Hurt: No. I was afraid that that was going to be the answer. I guess that’s the whole point of asking for something to be done as early as the council was pushing. You know, it seems that it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should have been. And thus we are in the situation we are in right now.
Moderator: Thank you, councilwoman Hurt.
Watch the full video here; Ms. Hurt appears at about 1:01:00 hr: