Five maskless, anti-vax protesters wound up in handcuffs Monday night after storming a Downtown Brooklyn Burger King, apparently in opposition to the city’s COVID protocol.
Videos posted to the Twitter account @patriottakes show dozens of people flooding the fast food restaurant on Fulton Street, many filming the protest on cameras and smartphones. The protest came on the day the city’s vaccine mandate for private employers took effect, and amid the ongoing Omicron variant-fueled surge in COVID-19 infections.
Some chanted “Let’s Go Brandon,” an anti-Biden coded curse popular among right-wing supporters uncomfortable with using the F word in public, while one, with a megaphone, said “No segregation, no discrimination.”
According to the New York City Police Department, the five arrested were charged with trespassing after allegedly refusing to leave the burger joint after repeated requests to do so, and were issued desk appearance tickets — orders to appear in criminal court.
New York City requires proof of vaccination for all indoor activities — including dining, attending fitness classes, movies, and live performances. Masks are not required indoors where people are vaccinated, but many businesses still require customers to wear them indoors as long as they are not eating or drinking.
Last week, the city mandated vaccines for private employers with in-person workers.
But the protesters were not Burger King employees — who, in videos of the incident, are wearing masks behind the counter.
The number listed for the Burger King location was disconnected, and the company did not immediately respond to request for comment.
A video filmed by one of the protestors and posted online shows a line of masked NYPD officers standing between the crowd and the counter.
“We are ready to go, we are ready to leave,” the man behind the camera says. “Call Bill de Blasio. We will leave, the minute [the police] get out of here. We are holding the line, we are not second-class citizens.”
Footage shows Deputy Inspector Adeel S. Rana, the commanding officer of the NYPD’s 84th Precinct, telling the anti-vax crowd to leave the location.
“The manager does not want you in here,” he said. “We’re giving you ample warning, ample time.”
Another Twitter user believed one of the protestors — wearing a sweatshirt depicting civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. — was also a participant in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Special thanks to @patriottakes for posting a video of an anti-vax demonstration that recently took place at an NYC Burger King.
— Cory Cullington (@CoryCullington) December 28, 2021
“I’m giving you ample time, but I can’t be here all night,” Rana says, in another video.
The man filming then begins telling his fellow protestors to “lock arms” and calls anyone leaving the restaurant a “coward.”
As officers shepherded the unmasked crowd back onto Fulton Street, some called the cops “Nazis” and “Gestapo,” for enforcing the vaccine mandate and removing them from the Burger King, and said they no longer support the NYPD.
According to city data, more than 97 percent of people in Downtown Brooklyn’s ZIP code had gotten at least one dose of the COVID vaccine — higher than the average Brooklyn and city-wide.
The case rate per 100,000 in 11201 was also higher than the city and borough rates — but Downtown also has significantly higher rates of testing. New cases have skyrocketed in the city since late November as the highly-transmissible Omicron variant has taken hold.