Oxford resident sues the city over mask mandate


Oxford Observer file photo

Signs such as this one on the door of La Bodega restaurant, 11 W. High St., were distributed through the city to businesses all over town after city council passed a mask mandate.

By Mary Anderson

Longtime Oxford resident and golf professional Tate Prows, 40, is suing the City of Oxford in federal court over the city’s pandemic-era mass gathering ordinance. 

Tate is representing himself in the lawsuit, filed Nov. 28 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

The complaint concerns a mass gathering ordinance that Prows says 23 students were charged with violating during the 2020-2021 school year. They were each fined $500. 

Prows said he has no personal connection to anyone that went to Miami University during the COVID-19-impacted years. 

I became involved, frankly, due to my shock at the brazen nature of the ordinance itself. It was so shockingly unconstitutional that I sought a way to remedy it,” he said.

In the complaint, Prows charges that city policymakers repeatedly ended the mask mandate when students left campus. Prows called this “blatant discrimination for young students furthering their education and career goals.”

As well as the city itself, named as defendants in the case are city officials Chief John A. Jones, Michael Smith, Doug Elliott, William Snavely, Chantel Raghu, Jason Bracken, Glenn Ellerbe, David Prytherch and Edna Southard. Prows said he hoped the case would result in the return of fines to students and apologies and resignations from the officials involved.

“I want this behavior to stop and perhaps be a reminder to other municipalities in Ohio to respect the U.S. and Ohio constitutions and more importantly, respect the inherent God-given rights of ‘We the People.’ Government is instituted by the consent of the governed. Government is there to protect the rights of the people, not trample them,” he said.

Snavely, Oxford’s mayor, said he would not comment on pending litigation involving the city.