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(NEXSTAR) — Caleb Wallace, the co-founder of the San Angelo Freedom Defenders and West Texas Minutemen State Coordinator has died from causes related to COVID-19, according to an update on gofundme by his wife, Jessica Wallace.
“Caleb has peacefully passed on. He will forever live in our hearts and minds❤️,” reads the most recent update on the campaign that was set up to help Wallace’s three children and his wife, a stay-at-home mother who is expecting a fourth child in late September.
“This money is also going towards Calebs medical bills as they start coming in,” reads an update to the campaign’s description, “He’s now been in the hospital since July 30th and I know I must prepare for them as well. Gotta pray for the best and prepare for the worst.”
While Wallace had become a semi-regular feature in local news through his conservative activism, it was his battle with COVID-19 that garnered the national spotlight after his family’s struggle was featured in an article published in the San Angelo Standard Times on Sunday, August 22, 2021.
His organization of the “Freedom Rally”, a protest against state and local mask requirements during the summer of 2020 made him a figure of some prominence among those in the community who were opposed to mask mandates.
This opposition to coronavirus mitigation measures like mask mandates lead Wallace to found the San Angelo Freedom Defenders with like-minded local, Coco Simpson. The Freedom Defenders held local rallies like the San Angelo Freedom Parade in July of 2020 and the October 2020 Rally to End COVID-19 Tyrrany.
“It’s pacifying the 1-2% speaking the loudest and leaving the rest of us behind,” said Simpson in an interview about Governor Greg Abbott’s July 2020 mask mandate, “If you want to wear a mask feel free to do so. I don’t choose to and I shouldn’t wear one because it makes you feel better.”
Wallace reportedly believed that vaccine mandates were also an infringement on people’s constitutional rights. In an article published in the New York Times on Friday, August 27, 2020, Wallace’s father attested to his son’s stance against vaccine and mask requirements, saying, “After watching all of the government’s efforts here, he decided he wanted to do something about it”
“I can’t tell the difference if I have freedom to breathe free air or breathe it behind… sucking air behind this thing,” Wallace said while speaking to local officials at a COVID-19 Update held by the City of San Angelo on November 13, 2020.
“My health has nothing to do with you. As harsh as that sounds, but our constitutional, fundamental rights protect that. Nothing else.” said Wallace.
“I’m sorry if that comes off as blunt and that I don’t care. I do care. I care more about freedom than I do for your personal health.”
Wallace’s most recent public action was in the form of an open letter, published locally on April 10, 2021, to the San Angelo Independent School District calling on the school board to “rescind ALL COVID-related policies immediately!”