Thousands in Washington protest against 'tyranny' of COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 10:10 AM(IST)

Waving signs denouncing President Joe Biden and calling for "freedom," several thousand people demonstrated in Washington Sunday against what some described as the "tyranny" of COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the United States.


A deeply polarising political issue

Vaccine mandates have become polarising political issues as other COVID restrictions designed to curtail a disease that has infected more than 70 million people in the United States, killed more than 865,000 people and brought much of daily life to a halt for two years and counting.


Mandates and freedoms don't mix

Speaker after speaker -- including notorious anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust -- took to the microphone in front of the white marble Lincoln Memorial to decry the rules.

"Mandates and freedoms don't mix, like oil and water," said one speaker. 

"Breathe. Inhale God, exhale fear," exhorted yet another to applause from the crowd, made up of people of all ages, including children, and largely unmasked.


'Rushed' vaccines

"I'm not anti-vaccine, but I'm anti this vaccine," Michelle, a 61-year-old physical therapist from Virginia.

She said the messenger RNA serums developed by companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in record time were "too experimental" and "rushed."

The mRNA vaccines, given to millions of people around the world in the past year, have been proven safe and effective, as well as being hailed as potential gamechangers in modern medicine. 


'We need our freedom back'

Another demonstrator, Therese is adamantly opposed to vaccines -- all vaccines. 

She explained that she came by bus from Michigan, in the north of the country, to protest.

"Mandates are not appropriate... vaccines aren't working, we've been lied to about the vaccines." 

"And we should not be masking our children," she added. 

"I talked to a couple of psychologists who say our children are suffering and they're depressed... It's terrible. We need our freedom back."


A fight against tyranny?

"We are Americans and that's what we do, we fight tyranny!" 

There are also many anti-Biden posters and a few flags bearing the name of his predecessor Donald Trump -- under whom the vaccines were developed and who has taken credit for them.


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