Thousands rally against COVID-19 vaccine, face mask requirements at National Mall

Media Credit: Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

Protestors carried signs reading “No Vaccine Mandates” and “My Body, My Choice” while yelling “lock him up” in reference to President Joe Biden and his Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci.

Thousands of protesters descended on the National Mall for a rally opposing COVID-19 vaccination and mask mandates Sunday.

Demonstrators marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, where they heard speeches from prominent vaccination skeptics, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a conspiracy theorist and the son of former U.S. attorney general Robert Kennedy. Organizers hoped as many as 20,000 people would come to the rally, but only a few thousand turned out at the event, according to The Washington Post.

Protesters carried signs reading “No Vaccine Mandates” and “My Body, My Choice” while yelling “lock him up” in reference to President Joe Biden and his Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci. Some demonstrators said they feared their employers would fire or discipline them if they admitted to attending the rally or not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Kennedy said residents of Nazi Germany had more freedoms than Americans living with vaccination requirements.

“Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland – you could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did,” Kennedy said at the rally. “I visited, in 1962, East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible – many died, true – but it was possible.”

The Auschwitz Memorial later criticized Kennedy’s comments in a tweet, calling his comparison of vaccination mandates to Nazi Germany “a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay.”

Kennedy said government officials have “orchestrated confusion and fear” during the pandemic with manipulated PCR COVID-19 tests and death certificates. Since March 2020, more than 5.6 million people across the world have died of COVID-19, and more than 70 million people have tested positive for the virus.

“Every time you comply, you get weaker,” Kennedy said. “The hill that you’re going to die on is the hill that you’re on right now.”

Corey, a protester from Delaware who declined to share her last name because she did not want her employer or coworkers to know she opposes COVID-19 vaccine mandates, said the federal government should ban all vaccination requirements on the national and local levels. She said government officials were “fear-mongering” when it came to their handling of the pandemic.

“I’d like to see the mandates end – the vaccine passports, the vaccine mandates – everything needs to end,” she said. “This is America. It’s a free country.”

Corey said she attended Sunday’s protests to stand united for “God-given rights as humans” and said opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates should not be a partisan issue.

“Both of my grandfathers were World War II vets, and I think they are probably rolling over in their grave right now with what is happening in this country,” she said. “And it’s not about the color of our skin or parties. This is across party lines. It’s time it ends.”

Peter, a demonstrator from New York who declined to share his last name because he did not want his employer that enforces COVID-19 vaccination requirements to know he attended the rally, carried a Gadsden Flag – a yellow banner reading “Don’t Tread on Me” that is often used to represent right-wing ideologies. He said he doesn’t oppose the right to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or wear face coverings, but the government should not require them for students or employees.

“I’m here because I don’t like the erosion of freedoms,” Peter said. “I feel like there’s nothing wrong necessarily with the vaccine, but the decision to take the vaccine should be between an individual and their doctor.”

He said individuals should be trusted to make medical decisions for themselves without government mandates. He said vaccinations and other health care decisions should be between individuals and their doctors.

“People are more agile in helping to navigate health decisions that make sense for them than government policies,” he said. “And we also run the risk of people looking to the government to figure out what it is that they should or should not do rather than thinking and making those decisions for themselves with their health care guides.”

Wendy, a protester from New Jersey who declined to share her last name because she did not want her employers to know she opposes vaccine requirements, said she hopes the number of people at the rally would pressure government leaders to repeal requirements for vaccinations and testing.

“We don’t know if it will work, but we hope it will,” she said. “But also I think that a lot of the media are not showing us. They are just showing the other side, and we’re hoping that people can see there are more than us that anybody else can even imagine.”

Wendy said she “respects” people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine, she but opposes all government vaccination requirements, whether they be for employees or students.

“Anybody who wants to get a vaccine, good,” she said. “I respect that – good for you – but you cannot tell me what to do with my body.”

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