PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Pueblo City Council work session Monday evening became heated after talks of masks and COVID vaccines turned into an all-out confrontation.
According to a reporter from our news partners at the Pueblo Chieftain, a group of unmasked people walked in during the middle of the work session. Masks and face coverings are required for all employees and visitors while in city facilities.
After the work session, Mayor Nick Gradisar instructed anyone unmasked to leave and asked Pueblo police officers to intervene.
During the public forum, several people spoke against wearing masks and mask mandates. One woman compared being forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to being assaulted.
"The vaccine mandate is an abuse of power and an infringement on our personal rights," said Richelle Lucero. "Pardon my descriptive comparison here, there is a word used when one experiences forcible imposition by another person on their body without consent."
Another man said requiring the COVID vaccine was "tyrannical," he was met with applauds and cheers.
Several times throughout the meeting Monday, City Council President Larry Atencio asked people to refrain from screaming, cheering, and shouting.
After the public forum, Gradisar spoke. He began by saying he wished attendees had been there to watch presentations by the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment that showed the difference between school districts that required masks and those that don't in terms of the number of infections.
"We're obviously in the Darwinian phase of our battle against the virus," said Gradisar. "I guess if there's any upside to that, it's that we'll start weeding out the herd a little bit."
He then encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and get boosters if needed.
Other city council members shared their frustration, saying Pueblo City Council has little control over COVID-restrictions on the federal and state level.
Councilmember Bob Schilling said some people attended the meeting simply to be defiant.
"I'm going spend more time believing what the medical community says about the shots. In one way their behavior - this is a great country because nobody hauled them out and shot them," said Schilling.
During his time to talk, he was at one point interrupted and said the council had treated attendees with more respect than they were given.
"I can't really get on board with coming here to just be defiant," said Schilling.
When Atencio had the opportunity to speak, he told attendees their rights end where his begins. He said it's within people's rights to not get vaccinated and not wear masks, but they need to stay away from him.
Watch the city council meeting below:
Watch the work session below: