Masks Off, Hearts On: May Day Seattle Rally and March for Freedom

Anastasia (Staci) Sprout
17 min readMay 2, 2021


by Staci Sprout, LICSW

The vibe at the May Day Freedom march near Seattle Space Needle was infused with love, diversity, and empowered commUNITY!

Yesterday was May Day in Seattle and the weather (partially sunny) was perfect for a rally! This was the second rally/march I have attended since I began questioning covid. We had about 150 people turn out, and no problems, no police — apparently they were busy with arrests elsewhere in the city, as the destructive actions, police clashes, and an immigrants’ rights rally got the press coverage and we got none. So, once again, we must create our own media to let the world know: Seattle is not giving up without a fight for our freedoms!

What freedoms, you ask? For starters, freedom to breathe, freedom to the sovereignty of our own bodies, and freedom to question and claim exemption from state mask mandates that defy common sense.

We gathered at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Building at 5th & Mercer Street

I was fortunate enough to serve as a speaker at this event, along with a fascinating combination of voices from citizens from diverse races, backgrounds, political leanings, sexual identifications/orientations, socioeconomic statuses, ages and abilities, united by the core concept: we are not buying the mainstream narrative that our joyful human freedoms should be sacrificed to the fear of death.

Affectionately called “Joan of Arc” for her tireless freedom activism, march founder Victoria Palmer is fearless!

In one incredibly moving rally speech by Jess Holmes, a portion of a 1980 speech by John Trudell was shared on revolution and loyalty to the earth — here is one excerpt I loved, applied to global “disaster capitalism”:

We’re faced with a very serious situation in this generation. There are insane people who wish to rule the world. They wish to continue to rule the world on violence and repression, and we are all the victims of that violence and repression.

We cannot allow this to continue to go on. We cannot expect that the pro-nuclear oppressor, that other side, we cannot expect that they are going to change for us. They are going to become more brutal; they are going to become more repressive, because it’s a matter of dollars and their illusionary concepts of power. We have to re-establish our identity. We have to understand who we are and where we fit in the natural order of the world. Because our oppressor deals in illusions. They tell us that it is power, but it is not power. They may have all the guns, the racist laws and judges, and they may control all the money, but that is not power. These are only imitations of power, and they are only power because in our minds we allow it to be power.

The brutality of the American Corporate State way of life is nothing more than violence and oppression and it doesn’t have anything to do with power. It is brutality. It’s a lack of a sane balance. The people who have created this system, and who perpetuate this system, they are out of balance. They have made us out of balance. They have come into our minds and they have come into our hearts and they’ve programmed us…

We must gear ourselves for a long struggle. We must never give up hope. We must never turn our backs and say we’re not going to make it.

The spirit of the people…The spirit of the earth…

Our ancestors, all our relations, they’re here. They are spirit power. We connect with them. They will help us. They will help us to survive this thing, this madness, this machine madness that is being imposed upon all of us.

We are power. We are energy. We are spirit. We are the people. We want to be free. We want our liberation. Then we must take the responsibility that goes with liberation. We must build to survive.

Link to the full Earth Day speech from John Trudell: https://soundcloud.com/therednationpod/earth-day-special-acts-of-war?fbclid=IwAR0_wjgR0sDzBtCsBr5dz77RO7bv1uVkoYUg_8Ynzv8B-xa_yjnYle8ZrsY

As for my part, I spoke about my grave concerns about the psychological harms caused by loneliness, masking, and isolation. Here is a transcript of my talk, titled:

Masks Cause Despair, Dehumanization, and Death

We’ve been told that masks save lives, but I’m here to tell you — they take them.

Hi, my name is Staci Sprout, and I am a licensed mental health counselor (LICSW) from Seattle, WA. I was born at NW Hospital, and this city is my home. I want to talk about the mental health aspects of the “lockdown/maskup” policies, and share a vision of how we can heal as a community and a world. It is not my intention to be dismissive of any losses of those who have been sick, disabled, nor have died this year, nor of those among us who have lost beloved ones. I myself was told I had coronavirus but thankfully recovered fully; my mother died in October 2020 of lung disease exacerbated by the smoke from the summer fires and, I believe, mask-induced pneumonia.

Yes, you read that right. Mask-induced pneumonia.

Because I work as a mental health and addictions professional, I feel a duty to speak to you today about my grave concerns about the psychological damage caused by prolonged isolation, and the devastation that distancing and masking policies are having on human bonding and connection. I am also outraged at the government and socially-sanctioned mask and vaccine coercive and bullying behaviors that have reached widespread proportions and I believe are causing despair, self-injury, addiction, and suicide, especially in youth.

At first, like many, I was fearful of contracting coronavirus, but as the months of lockdowns and face-covering orders turn to years, and threats of permanent facemask policies loom in Oregon to the south of us and Canada to the north, I’ve become even more afraid of the constricted life as its now expressed in my beloved city of Seattle and WA state. I stand before you today to say NO to PERMANENT MASKING AND ISOLATION POLICIES. NO TO MORE RESTRICTIVE “PHASES” IN KING COUNTY AND ALL COUNTIES! WE MUST FIND ANOTHER WAY TO GET THROUGH THIS, TOGETHER!

For many people, the natural human response to masks have been completely inverted this year. Masks typically represent concealment, deception, dehumanization, and a signal of criminal behavior like bank robberies. But now for many masks have come to represent safety from disease and death, as well as a badge of virtue and care for others. By putting on masks, many feel they are doing their part to be good citizens and protect themselves and the community. A common media slogan has been “Stay Home, Stay Safe & Protect Others.” Even if you are vaccinated, aka having allowed yourself to be used for experimental gene therapy, you are still supposed to wear a mask. What?!

Like me you may have many masks around, in pockets and purses, in various colors and materials. I’ve received beautiful masks as gifts, made by friends, from around the world. When I first noticed I had trouble breathing with my mask on, I even invested in a motorized mask with a fan inside. When I noticed a chronic bacterial infection on my chin, I figured it was not a big deal compared to keeping myself and others safe from coronavirus. Protection is a core need in community, especially in times of danger and threat. I looked to medical experts to help me do the right thing. As a psychotherapist, I followed my doctor’s advice and closed my office, seeing all clients on video and staying masked up wherever I went. I have since changed doctors to someone who better understands the balance between health, mental health, and common sense.

As the early stay at home orders began to extend, first “14 days to herd immunity,” then weeks, then months, and now with rhetoric of “the new normal” forever and “herd immunity” was redefined as only possible when EVERYONE has been injected with experimental substances, my alarm has continued to rise. The damage of isolation on myself and my community, on my clients via my sacred front-row seat as a therapist, on families, and especially isolated elders and children, cannot be allowed to become the new normal. The emotional deterioration of our community is easy to see just walking down the street with my dog, where even when we were all masked, neighbors cross the street to avoid one another and people don’t say hello or express warmth.

What have we sacrificed in our efforts to survive?

I believe we have not given enough value on a fundamental human need: the need to connect and TRULY care for each other. Isolation is used to punish prisoners because it works to break down their will; it’s called solitary confinement. In an apparent effort to protect our communities, we are allowing them to be crushed.

When humans are faced with immediate life-threatening conditions, which is how covid is hammered via the public health fearmongering, we naturally turn to our loved ones for connection and reassurance — it’s how our nervous systems, also known as our emotional immune systems, work. But isolation and masking policies have damaged this form of support because people have become so fearful of one another. Humans rely on cues to connect: eye contact, facial expressions, words in friendly, kind tones, loving touch, and body language. LEANING IN. Masks cover most of that up, and social distancing does the rest to keep us without comfort and encouragement when we are needing it most.

To quote a paper from the National Institute of Health:

“Encountering people wearing facemasks activates innate stress-fear emotion, which is fundamental to all humans in danger or life threating situations, such as death or unknown, unpredictable outcome. Chronic and prolonged state of stress-fear is maladaptive, and has detrimental effects on physical and mental health.”

A quick lesson on the Polyvagal Theory of Human Threat Response: Without enough connection in times of threat, humans automatically drop into survival mode: first with fight or flight reactions. If you have found yourself very angry, moving into judgment and hostility, you may be in the “fight” threat response. I called a friend this week who was walking in the park and she told me she had just witnessed an altercation between a man and a woman over whether the woman would leash her dog. It ended with the woman spitting on the man’s car and the man saying “I shouldn’t have left the house.”

Most people are not at their best in Seattle right now.

The “flight” response can look like avoiding or exiting situations or relationships that you once could handle, a loss of resiliency. If this sounds like you, you may be suffering symptoms of a new kind of PTSD, what I call “Pandemic-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” This global crisis has divided communities into “maskers” and “anti-maskers” or as we are seeing more lately, “vaccinated” and “un-vaccinated.” Chronic terror has pushed many into the final autonomic nervous system reaction of freeze, or play dead. If you are going along with lockdown/maskup, ask yourself: are you choosing, or complying? The messages in media are so extreme: stay at home, and maybe you won’t die. We’re complying with our own solitary confinement. It’s called “freeze and appease.” But is that living?

The problem with survival brain tactics is they are anti-intimacy, anti-connection, and anti-community. Survival brain was meant for short bursts to outrun tigers, not a way-of-life “new normal.” Living under duress exhausts our adrenal systems and depletes our health and immune systems. In other words, chronic threat reactivity degrades our health and mental health. What I am seeing in the world today is a pandemic of exaggerated fear, division, hostility and despair. I am also seeing a profound failure of common sense, caused by traumatic stress. I fear our community is suffering from something mental health therapists call “Stockholm Syndrome.”

If you don’t know,

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological defense against overwhelming terror where a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.

[Read more about the Stockholm Syndrome in action with the story of the Stanford Prison Experiment: https://www.prisonexp.org/the-story]

We see it with bullies and their victims all the time. If you isolate someone and scare someone badly enough, you can make them do anything, no matter how illogical or even self-detrimental. You force them into survival brain, aka “freeze and appease.” We need to come out of this. We need to get INTO ACTION. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE AND TAKING A STAND FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE! IT’S VERY HEALING FOR DEPRESSION ANXIETY AND DESPAIR.

People attended the rally/march from across Washington state. Cars going by honked in support by a far wider margin than the few that flipped off marchers…

Today I am here to say that following this so-called “Stay Safe” guidance is actually having the opposite effect on the health and immune system of society, because health MUST include mental health to be whole, and we ignore this at our grave peril. We must fight masking/isolation policies before we become so traumatized and docile we are unable to act or think at all. We deserve better, and I believe it is possible!

Current research has revealed that the message that wearing a mask is safe, protects us and others, and to be a caring neighbor we must wear one, is a LIE.

A first-of-its-kind literature review from a team of German researchers, published April 20, 2021 on the adverse effects of face masks, reveals there are clear, scientifically shown harmful effects for mask wearers, on psychological, social and physical levels.

Let’s look at the frequent symptoms humans experience from wearing masks, and I want to see a show of hands of who has experienced these symptoms while masking:

Health Symptoms:

Increase in breathing resistance

Increase in heart rate

Decrease in lung capacity

Feeling of exhaustion — some have compared this to Sick Building Syndrome or SBS, or now a newer term “Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome, or MIES

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath



Feeling of dampness and/or heat in your lungs

Drowsiness (qualitative neurological deficits)


Difficulty concentrating

Impaired skin barrier function with acne, itching and skin lesions

Mental Health Symptoms

Decrease in personal confidence and empowerment

Decrease in strength of identity, or feeling you are who you are, uniquely YOU

Decrease in feeling socially connected with others

Decrease in empathy perception, in other words decreased caring about others

Dehumanization — like a robot or machine (seeing the eyes downcast)

Depression and despair

Anxiety, fear or panic*

*That’s why I got a mask exemption letter, from my licensed therapist, because I began to get anxiety attacks going into stores with my mask on. Thank goodness I have a brave therapist — many are so frightened or ignorant they cannot comprehend the need for mental health mask exemptions, nor their role to support clients to get them. But even though I have valid documentation and a stigmatizing badge, this doesn’t mean stores let me in — most Seattle stores do not honor valid mask exemptions and ask me to wait on the curb. I wrote to the CEO of Puget Consumer’s Co-Op, or PCC, as a member for 27 years, and received a clear message back — stay out of our store.

More symptoms:

Feeling stigmatized if you have an exemption or even speak any concerns**

**Yes, I have concerns and questions, yes I do. I question the validity of the PCR test and how it’s measured, I question if rigorous nasal swabs cause damage to the body, I question how King County measures “cases” and why the emphasis is on cases vs deaths and why we aren’t looking at the big picture. To me, the numbers don’t add up and I have lost faith in a system that masks six-year-olds who just want to play soccer in the sun with their friends. Now I read the CDC recommends masking babies. We need to stop this kind of nonsense and start practicing common sense!

Desire to numb out, shut down, escape (through for example overeating, Internet escape, sexual imbalances/porn, overspending, etc.)

Desire to physically or emotionally self-harm

Suicidal thoughts, impulses or attempts

I was suicidal after 9/11 and I know how impactful large scale disasters can be on mental health. Thankfully I was able to get help for my addictions, depression and trauma and have never been suicidal since, but last year was the most despair I’ve felt since then and I know if I felt that bad, with as much resources and blessings that I now have, how many more people are barely holding on to life?

All this suffering matters! My suffering matters. Your suffering matters! Yet in the sunami of covid fear, it’s all erased as if invisible. These are symptoms that something is wrong and needs our attention to restore balance. We need to see through the fear-based propaganda that isolates us and own the realities of our own bodies: masks and isolation promote disease, dehumanization, and death!

As a mental health professional I believe we cannot continue to prioritize fear of dying of coronavirus over our need to live, connect, and thrive. In fact, what we need to understand and help everyone understand, is that lack of close contact with our neighbors has a far higher likelihood of killing us than coronavirus! Per this literature review:

A meta-analysis of 91 studies of about 400,000 people showed a 13% increased morality risk among people with low compare to high contact frequency [53]. Another meta-analysis of 148 prospective studies (308,849 participants) found that poor social relationships was associated with 50% increased mortality risk. People who were socially isolated or felt lonely had 45% and 40% increased mortality risk, respectively. These findings were consistent across ages, sex, initial health status, cause of death and follow-up periods [52]. An umbrella review of 40 systematic reviews including 10 meta-analyses demonstrated that compromised social relationships were associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality, depression, anxiety suicide, cancer and overall physical illness [51].

We are dying of loneliness………and it is preventable!

We’ve been hearing slogans telling us what to do all year from so-called authorities, and if you’re like me, they drive you nuts. So, I’ve got some new slogans for you:

· Take off your mask, you’re scaring me.

· Common sense now proven by science: masks don’t work.

A recent CDC report contradicted the case for mask mandates. As NATIONAL FILE reported: The CDC claims that between March 1 and December 31 of 2020 the mask mandates, which were executed in the vast majority of United States counties, stopped COVID case growth rates by one half of one percent after 20 days and by less than 2 percent after 100 days.

· Masks are unsafe.

· Take off your mask, save a life. (For the suicidal, addicted among us desperate for connection…or those with lung disease, for example, to whom oxygen deprivation can be fatal)

· Prolonged masking causes mental illness and death.

I am starting to hear stories of very young children who have been masked who have simply stopped speaking. At all. Ever.

And here is my favorite:

· Masks off, heart on.

[This slogan was a crowd-pleaser, and many began to chant it. Then we all had a laugh as we heard the double entendre presented by saying it aloud. All joking aside, the negative impacts on dating, relationships, and healthy sexuality from masking are easily deduced. Masking is a turn-off!]

We must take immediate measures to restore the most powerful medicine to our society, the medicine of smiling faces and hugs and gathering, of warm welcomes and “come closer” not “stay away.” We need to put the “unity” back in “community.” The antidote to the fatal outcomes of isolation policies: in-person connection. We need real “face time.”

Who profits from lockdowns?

If Jay Inslee and other current government leadership cannot see and be moved by the escalating socio-emotional suffering and mortality risk of the people they are entrusted to support and serve, I hold a vision that the community can act independently to rise up, find the strength to take off our masks and cross the heart-gap of 6’ to embrace one another again anyway. And let’s get anyone who will not consider and act on common sense out of office. They do not deserve power if they are going to abuse or neglect it.

In closing, even if you completely disagree with me, I especially ask that you stop glaring at, berating, shaming or otherwise harassing your neighbors, coworkers, or service personnel who are not wearing masks, regardless of their reasons. This behavior is not protecting ourselves, it is blatant discrimination and bullying. If you remain in fear for your health (as stated on the governor’s own coronavirus website) wear your own mask, decide about vaccines for your own body, but do not confront, attack nor judge others who — for reasons are just as valid as yours –choose not to. Many have medical, mental health or religious exemptions and these are protected by federal civil rights laws that so many fought so hard to earn for us.

And to anyone who says they are wearing their mask to protect others, we need to give them a clear message:

· Do NOT wear your mask for me!

· Do not deprive yourself of oxygen, or humanity, for me!

· Do not endure shortness of breath for me, like the 70something woman with lung disease I met outside PCC who wears her mask to protect others, even though she struggles to breathe within :10 in the store. For her, and for everyone who thinks they are helping others, let’s send a loud message of how they can really help themselves and us:

Take off your mask! Take off your mask! TAKE OFF YOUR MASK!

(Author) I hope you can join us for the next rally! Participation has been a true sanity-saver for me, and many.

To connect with the Freedom Community, and/or join us at the next rally/march, check out: https://seattletruthnetwork.com/

WOW! Seattle is NOT the only city taking a stand! Inspiring video from London’s freedom march April 24, 2021, over a quarter million strong. Humanity on Their Feet:
https://www.bitchute.com/video/xJ2LJ0OGeN6y/ — Do you see any masks?

More sources to connect with others/info searching for freedom from medical tyranny:

Informed Choice Washington

Stand for Health Freedom (US and Canada)-https://standforhealthfreedom.com/join-the-movement/

Citizens in Charge: Make America Free Again-https://makeamericansfreeagain.com/

Doctors for COVID Ethics-

World Doctors Alliance-


Hometown Freedom Meetup-



Are Face Masks Effective? The Evidence. https://swprs.org/face-masks-evidence/

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/8/4344 Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome

Kai Kisielinski et al., “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free

from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential

Hazards?,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public



Anastasia (Staci) Sprout

…is an Intimacy/Addictions Recovery Coach from Seattle with over twenty-six years of experience as a therapist and social worker.