In all her life, Rae Dean Strawn said she's never gone through anything like what she experienced at Tuesday's Porterville City Council.
The 75-year-old woman said she was handcuffed for not properly wearing her face mask at Tuesday's meeting. She added she was eventually let go without any charges being pressed against her.
But she also said, “I'm not a happy camper. I'm not happy at all. It was just uncalled for.”
The incident happened at Tuesday's meeting as the council was coming back from closed session into open session.
A video of the incident titled Blessings of Liberty on Facebook Watch has been posted on social media. The video is upside down but in the video shows two Porterville Police Officers handcuffing Strawn, who can be seen briefly, but is shown wearing a mask.
The video only lasts 30 seconds. It shows one of the officers taking Strawn by the hand before being handcuffed. Strawn can be heard saying while she's being handcuffed, “What are you arresting me for?”
Someone else in the background can also be heard saying “This is horrible.”
A full 10-minute video of the incident has been posted on social media by the private Facebook group Tulare County Coalition For Freedom.
Strawn said she regularly attends city council meetings and sat down before the meeting started as she always does without wearing a mask. “I've never worn a mask,” she said. “Nobody would say anything.”
But this time an officer came up to her, she said, and told her she needed to wear a mask. She said two types of masks were provided in the city council chambers, a cloth mask and an N95 mask.
She took a cloth mask because she said she can't wear an N95 mask. “I can't breathe through that mask,” she said, “It's too thick.”
But she said she was having trouble keeping her mask above her nose. “You have to keep pulling it up to keep it on your nose,” Strawn said.
So she said the officer came over and warned her again. But she said the officer was also wearing their mask without covering their nose. “You're wearing a mask just like I am,” said Strawn about what she told the officer.
The officer then told her she would have to leave, she said. “No, I'm not leaving,” said Strawn about what she told the officer. “Then it went on from there.”
About the two officers who took her into custody, Strawn said, “they were both very rude. I've never been treated that way.”
Strawn said she tried to tell the officers the handcuffs were too tight to no avail. She also said she had to tell the officers to let her walk slower as they were taking her away because she has had three knee surgeries.
She said she was originally told she would be taken to the South County Detention Center. But she said she was taken in a patrol car to the nearby police station.
She did say about the officer who was doing her paperwork, “he was very nice.”
Eventually another officer came in and said, “there aren't going to be any charges. We're going to let her go.”
The officer who did her paperwork then gave Strawn a ride in a patrol car back to her car near City Hall. But the officer told her not to go back into the meeting and Strawn said she agreed not to and didn't return to the meeting.
The Porterville Police Department didn't respond to a request to comment on the incident on Wednesday.