Thousands of people, including a convoy truckers and their rigs, gathered in Grand Park in downtown L.A. on Sunday to protest vaccination mandates for city workers and wide-ranging COVID bills currently proposed in the state Legislature.
The crowd listened to music and speakers at the rally, which was connected to others around the country. The theme was personal rights. Speakers were against COVID vaccine requirements, Democratic politicians, and mask mandates, according to the Los Angeles Times. Signs reading, “Defeat the Mandate,” and “Reclaim Your Divinity” bobbed above the crowd.
The proposed legislation has been described as “aggressive,” but it is their scope that is unique. “Taken together, the adoption of these bills would make California an outlier among states — and give it the country’s strictest COVID-19 regulations,” writes CalMatters.
However, the most major piece of legislation—a bill that would have required public, private, and independent contractors to be vaccinated—has been put on hold for now, as pandemic conditions have improved. As it is, Los Angeles County and the city require their workers, plus firefighters and police and sheriff’s deputies, to be vaccinated or to have medical or religious exemptions.
New York firefighter Paul Schweit, founder of the group Bravest for Choice, flew out with teachers and transit workers and others to support L.A.’s local public workers.
“The people that held out this long believe that this is not about a shot. It’s about the freedom to make the choice for yourself for your own bodily autonomy,” Schweit told SpectrumNews. “We are 100 percent not anti-vaccine. We support the individual. We believe the threat to the individual is a threat to all freedoms of the people.”
Schweit said he had been on unpaid leave for five months for failing to comply with New York’s vaccine requirement for public employees.
“I won’t put that mask on because all I can think of is anger,” Judy Mikovits, a virologist, told the Los Angeles Times. She went on to describe “debunked” ideas about COVID as well as chronic fatigue.
As of last month, two dozen city or public employees, including a dozen in the fire department, have been terminated for violating vaccine mandate rules. The city has successfully contested anti-mandate lawsuits filed on behalf of firefighters and police department workers.
Nearly 90,000 Californians have died of COVID, according to tracking from the New York Times.
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