Hundreds of anti-vaxxers — many donning NYPD and FDNY gear — took over the Brooklyn Bridge roadway Monday to protest Mayor de Blasio’s looming coronavirus vaccination mandate for all municipal workers in the city.
The mandate, which takes effect Friday at 5 p.m. and covers 160,000 city employees, including cops and firefighters, constitutes “medical tyranny,” claimed the throngs of protesters as they marched across the bridge.
“We will fight! We will win!” the largely maskless crowd chanted while touting American flags and signs emblazoned slogans like “We Will Not Comply.”
There was no immediate word of arrests or property damage, but the NYPD said on Twitter that the protesters blocked “all Manhattan bound lanes.”
After marching across the bridge, the demonstrators gathered outside City Hall, where they read off the pledge of allegiance and chanted anti-de Blasio slogans.
Many in the anti-vaccine crowd could be seen wearing hats and T-shirts with logos for the NYPD, FDNY and Department of Correction. Some also wore pro-Trump gear and waved Gadsden flags, which have become synonymous with far-right groups.
De Blasio’s mandate has drawn intense pushback from unions representing cops, firefighters and Department of Correction officers — a disproportionate number of whom are refusing to get their COVID-19 shots even though the vaccines have prove remarkably safe and effective.
The Police Benevolent Association, the city’s largest cop union, even filed a lawsuit Monday asking a judge to block de Blasio’s new rule from taking effect.
The DOC, which is already suffering from staff shortages tied to the crisis on Rikers Island, has the worst inoculation rate of all city agencies, with more than 50% of its members still unvaccinated, according to the most recent data from the de Blasio administration.
City workers who do not show proof of at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Friday’s deadline will be suspended without pay starting next week.
The persistent vaccine reluctance has prompted anxiety that mass staff shortages could ensue in the city’s public safety ranks once the mandate takes effect.
Earlier Monday, de Blasio said his administration has contingency plans in place to cover any mandate-related staff shortages and lamented that thousands of the city’s public workers are still “being swayed by misinformation” about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“There’s so much misinformation out there, and people have been told things that just aren’t true about the vaccine, but thank God the vast, vast majority of New Yorkers (have gotten vaccinated),” de Blasio, noting that 85% of the city’s adult population has gotten at least one vaccine dose. “So the vast majority of people have decided this is the right thing to do. And the vast majority New Yorkers have supported these mandates.”
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