D.C. Makes It A Crime To Wear Masks. So Why Was A Group Of White Nationalists Able To?
More than 100 members of the Patriot Front hate group marched through D.C. on Feb. 8, almost all of them wearing white face masks.
Zach D. Roberts/for DCist
And it was that last sartorial choice that attracted attention on social media, where some people asked why the group — Patriot Front, an organization promoting "American Fascism" and deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — was able to get away with what seemed like a violation of D.C. law.
It's currently illegal in the city to wear a mask under a number of circumstances, notably to avoid identification while engaging in illegal activities. But the law, which dates back to 1982, also says mask-wearing is prohibited if the wearer intends to intimidate or threaten another person, or if they try to deprive someone of other rights guaranteed by law. Virginia has a similar law on the books, which was tested last month, when a single person was arrested during a large pro-gun demonstration in Richmond.