An amalgamation of Trumpists and anti-vaxxers descended upon City Hall Park on Monday morning to protest the city’s vaccine mandate with a demonstration they claimed was about “medical freedom.”
Hundreds of screaming protesters argued that the newest COVID-19 mandates, requiring some employees to receive the vaccine as well as gyms, restaurants, and entertainment indoor facilities being required to check for vaccine passports (or cards) by Sept. 13 infringes on their rights.
On Aug. 3, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference a new COVID-19 policy stating, “If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated.” The city has been pushing vaccinated residents to use the NYC COVID Safe App or Excelsior Pass application, or show their vaccination card, as required proof for indoor venues due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases.
But the protesters — many of whom supported a president whose followers launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in protest of last year’s election results — labeled these new requirements as un-American, claiming that the government was forcing the vaccine upon them.
Many in the group brandished “Trump 2024” flags and wore shirts falsely claiming that “Trump won” (he didn’t).
Chants, such as “We will not comply,” echoed as one protester used a megaphone to state, “You can use anything as a mask, you can use toilet paper because it’s not about science, it’s about compliance. They want you on your knees and we reject that.”
Others carried signs that read “My body, my choice” — a slogan normally used among pro-choice individuals in support of reproductive rights that has since been co-opted by those against COVID-19 mask, business restriction and vaccine mandates since the pandemic began.
At one point, the group even unfurled a gigantic banner depicting de Blasio holding the severed head of Lady Liberty, and then began stomping on the mayor’s face in a tantrum.
Not everyone, however, was sympathetic to the protesters’ cause.
One man dressed in medical scrubs was disgusted with the group’s disregard of the life-saving vaccinations, calling those rallying “Stupid.”
The individual was hounded by protesters, at one point even getting pushed around. The group overrode his attempts at a debate by simply yelling “USA” — although the man was, like them, an American.
Reports from the Governor’s office show that as of August approximately 59% of New Yorkers are vaccinated, yet still there has been an uptick in cases. According to a study by John Hopkins University about 39,000 people were hospitalized by late July, and death rates are two times higher in states that have largely unvaccinated residents.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control said in a press briefing, stating, “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Walensky reported that 97% of those hospitalized from COVID-19 were unvaccinated and the US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said 99.5% of those who perished were unvaccinated.