Thousands Protest Vaccine Mandates in DC

Organizer says he wants to change image of opponents
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2022 5:25 PM CST
Demonstration on National Mall Denounces Vaccine Mandates
Demonstrators attend an anti-vaccine rally Sunday in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – Thousands of people protested vaccine mandates Sunday on the National Mall—an island of largely maskless demonstrators in Washington, which has embraced mask and vaccine requirements in its fight against the omicron variant. Demonstrators made their feelings about leaders perceived as enemies clear—a parked bus was covered with photos of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates with signs reading, "Arrest or Exile," the Washington Post reports. The protesters began with a march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, per WTOP, then heard speakers.

Dr. Pierre Cory endorsed early treatment instead of vaccinations. "They tell us to vaccinate ourselves endlessly and boost ourselves, even though that single strategy has failed, is failing and will continue to fail," he told the crowd. The organizers had said the idea was to oppose mandates, not vaccines, per the Wall Street Journal. Some protesters identified themselves as Democrats, and speakers included Robert F. Kennedy Jr., long active in the anti-vaccine movement. "The goal is to show a unified front of bringing people together—vaccinated, unvaccinated, Democrats, Republicans, all together in solidarity," said organizer Matt Tune, who's unvaccinated.

Tune said he wants to dispel the image of mandate opponents as "a bunch of weirdos and freaks who don’t care about humanity." The messages from speakers included disproven claims such as the cause of autism having been traced to childhood vaccine. Many protesters cast the issue as one of liberty. Suzanne Robertson, 52, who came from New Jersey, said she hasn't been vaccinated against the coronavirus. "I would die first," she said. The organizers' permit was for 20,000 demonstrators, but the crowd Sunday afternoon was only a few thousand, per the Post. (Read more vaccine mandate stories.)

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