Thousands of people turned out in Washington to march in protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Jan. 23—one of the largest U.S. events and protests held against the mandates since the start of the pandemic.
Starting at 12:30 p.m. local time, thousands of people marched around the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, with many holding signs decrying COVID-19 regulations, vaccine passports, and mandates. Some criticized the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.
In recent weeks, U.S. COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in areas that have high vaccination rates, once again casting a shadow on the effectiveness of the shots, and a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study suggested that natural immunity is superior to vaccines against the Delta variant. Federal officials frequently say that vaccines protect against severe disease and hospitalization.
Former NBA star Kwame Brown, who has frequently criticized vaccine mandates on social media, told The Epoch Times that he attended because “I think we got to get back to compassion for our fellow man and woman.”
“People are being put out of work” over mandates, he said on Jan. 23 in Washington. “People are not being able to go over to their friends and family’s house. … I think everybody should have a right to choose whether they want to do it … and that’s what America is supposed to be about.”
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, who was fired three weeks ago by the University of California–Irvine for challenging the school’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy, similarly told The Epoch Times on Jan. 23: “Americans need to recover our right to assembly and our right to public spaces.
“I think the most important thing about this event is that it is a public event. And it’s an opportunity for all of us to be together in solidarity and love for one another, to speak up against coercive mandates, to let doctors be doctors without other entities coming between a doctor’s own medical judgment and caring for his patient.”
Kheriaty, who has become a frequent critic of vaccine passports and mandates, said he hopes this event “will catalyze a movement in the United States.” And while some media outlets have described the march as an “anti-vaccine” event, Kheriaty and march organizers said it’s the mandates, not the vaccines, that they oppose.
One of the march’s organizers told Fox News over the weekend that the rally is important to push back against what he described as increasingly coercive measures that are coming from the White House.
“You’re going to hear a lot of [talk on the left that] this is a big, anti-vax rally, [that] it’s people coming in to deny science,” march organizer Will Witt stated. “But this march is about the mandate, and this march is about the Draconian measures that we’re seeing all across this country right now, especially in places like D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco.”
Jan Jekielek contributed to this report.