Deputies arrest frequent anti-mask protester at Douglas County Commission meeting after he brings in obscene sign

photo by: Austin Hornbostel

Douglas County Sheriff's Office deputies handcuff frequent anti-mask protester Justin Spiehs on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at the Douglas County Courthouse.

A frequent anti-mask protester was arrested at the Douglas County Courthouse on Wednesday after bringing a sign with a profane slogan to the Douglas County Commission’s meeting.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokesman George Diepenbrock said in an email to the Journal-World that deputies arrested Justin Spiehs on suspicion of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, “after observing his conduct of loud, rude and profane language and actions directed at a resident attending the Douglas County Commission meeting Wednesday evening.” Diepenbrock also said that Spiehs’ arrest “was not at the order of commissioners.”

Spiehs, who is facing felony charges in other incidents and has also filed to run for the Douglas County Commission, had brought a sign to the commission’s meeting on Wednesday that advertised his candidacy and included the phrase “(expletive) these liberal (expletive).”

photo by: Austin Hornbostel

Frequent anti-mask protester Justin Spiehs is pictured with a sign on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at the Douglas County Courthouse. The Journal-World has obscured the obscene language on the sign.

Spiehs and other anti-mask protesters had disrupted the County Commission’s meetings in the past, and at its meeting last week the commission agreed that going forward, members of the public who direct profanity or name-calling toward public servants — such as law enforcement officers or the commissioners — or people who cause excessive outbursts at any point in the meeting would be asked to leave.

Spiehs has frequently criticized efforts by the Lawrence school district and Douglas County health leaders to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and he has likened mask-wearing to child abuse. He was also charged with three felonies, two of them for aggravated assault and one for interference with a law enforcement officer, after an altercation at a vaccine clinic hosted at West Middle School last fall. He’s scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing in that case on Thursday.

Last week, Spiehs filed as a Republican candidate for County Commission District No. 1.


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