November 8, 2021
(NEW YORK) — Dozens of New Yorkers gathered near City Hall on Wednesday to make one message clear — when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, they will not stand for being required to roll up their sleeves.
Parents, Department of Education employees, and city and healthcare workers protested against New York City’s recent vaccine mandates. The protest was part of a “worldwide walkout” organized by Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccine activist group chaired by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
“I have freedom fighters, military members for generations in my family that have fought in all of the major wars” Donna Schmidt, the founder of a group called New Yorkers Against Medical Mandates, told the crowd. “I’m fighting my war now, along with all of you. This is war.”
While some participants were explicitly against the vaccine, others expressed that they were mainly concerned with not being able to make the choice to get the shot themselves.
“I’m going to keep fighting for freedom,” said John Matland, who was a healthcare worker for 15 years before he lost his job after refusing to get the vaccine. “I’m going to fight for the right for somebody who wants the shot so they can get it, and I’m also going to fight for the person who doesn’t want to get it not to be forced to and have their livelihood taken away in the process.”
Despite numerous protests over the past weeks, the vaccine mandate seems to be working. According to city officials, 92% of city workers had received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Nov. 4.