A woman claiming to be from the 'Freedom To Breathe Agency' filmed telling a grocery employee that she could face legal action for making people wear face masks

insider@insider.com (Sophia Ankel)
·4 mins read
  • In a viral TikTok video, a woman claiming to be from an anti-mask group told a grocery store supervisor in Orange County, California, that she could face legal action for asking people to wear face coverings.

  • The mask-less woman, who claimed she was from the "Freedom to Breathe Agency", was filmed giving the employee a piece of paper that stated she could go to prison for up to three to five years for telling customers to wear a mask.

  • The "Freedom To Breathe Agency" is not a real governmental agency and has previously received a warning from the Department of Justice after it distributed fake "face mask exempt" cards.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

<br> Lenka Koloma (R), who claims to be from the "Freedom to Breathe Agency" confronts grocery store supervisor Liz Chavez (L) in a supermarket in Orange County, California on August 7, 2020.

Lenka Koloma (R), who claims to be from the "Freedom to Breathe Agency" confronts grocery store supervisor Liz Chavez (L) in a supermarket in Orange County, California on August 7, 2020.

wittlelizzy/TikTok

A woman claiming to be from the "Freedom to Breathe Agency" was filmed telling a grocery store supervisor in Orange County, California, that she could face legal action for telling people to wear face coverings.

In a viral TikTok video, the mask-less woman — identified as Lenka Koloma — said they were "making sure that people's constitutional rights, civil and federal laws are not broken."

Related: 6 months of coronavirus in the USA, reviewed in 6 minutes

The incident happened on Friday afternoon after Liz Chavez, 31, a supervisor at a supermarket, was informed by one of her colleagues that two women in the store were not wearing a mask and therefore violating store rules.

"I went up to them like, 'Hey, in order to be inside the store you're required to wear a mask,'" Chavez told Buzzfeed News. "They told me, 'No, we're not required to wear a mask.'"

The two women, wearing badges that said "FTBA" and claimed to be from the "Freedom to Breathe Agency," gave Chavez a piece of paper that stated she could face legal action for telling people to wear masks.

"You personally need to take this to your manager because you personally can be sued for this, OK?" Koloma can be heard saying in the video.

"You are putting yourself into major legal liability — you personally," Koloma added, before leaving the shop.

According to Buzzfeed News, the paper also said that Chavez could go to prison for up to three to five years and could be fined up to $10,000 for telling customers to wear a mask.

"They weren't there to shop," Chavez told Buzzfeed News. "They honestly were probably just waiting for somebody to come up to them and ask them to wear a mask so they could do this."

The "Freedom To Breathe Agency" is not a real governmental agency. It has no official website and only uses a private Facebook group.

Koloma, who describes herself as the founder of the group, regularly posts anti-masks messages on her social media pages.

She told BuzzFeed News that she and the woman she was with "both have medical, health conditions and also religious beliefs that do not allow us to wear a mask," but did not say what those medical conditions are.

This is not the first time the "Freedom To Breathe Agency" has drawn attention.

In June, the group was given a warning by The Department of Justice. It had distributed "face mask exempt" cards that claimed to wear a mask put people at risk of mental or physical impairment and that the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) bars officials from questioning their decision not to wear face coverings.

"Do not be fooled by the chicanery and misappropriation of the DOJ eagle," US Attorney Martin said in a statement. "These cards do not carry the force of law. The 'Freedom to Breathe Agency,' or 'FTBA,' is not a government agency."

The current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that face masks are recommended in many public settings in the US to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In California, wearing a mask outside your home is required statewide, according to its coronavirus information website.

At the time of writing, the country has almost 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 162,000 deaths, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.

Koloma did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

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