Around the world, people are coming together to stand up for bodily autonomy, and against the widespread harm that emergency measures and covid mandates are having on society. We must find and support each other.
Here are a few voices: a white, Catholic NYPD lieutenant (unvaccinated, Covid-recovered) who was forced to take early retirement when his religious exemption was denied after having worked for the police department for 18 years; a black activist and employee at the MTA who wore a bulletproof vest to work in February to protest and bring attention to the dangerous working conditions for both workers and riders on the NYC transit system, and is vaccinated for Covid but tore up his vaccine card to protest the “racist and unconstitutional mandates”; a comedian who wrote a stand-up routine concerning his experience with Covid vaccine injury; and an activist who co-wrote the eloquent official statement released by the Black Caucus of the Minneapolis Green Party, denouncing Covid mandates.
Some of these interviews were conducted on behalf of the Children’s Health Defense by a woman who moved her family to Florida when her husband realized he would soon lose his job due to vaccine mandates…and a former special education teacher in the NYC public schools who continues to work, along with more than a thousand other NYC teachers, and many thousands of other formerly “essential workers”, to compel New York City to allow skilled professionals to have their jobs back without regard to vaccine status. Some of these voices are from Defeat the Mandates LA.
I was a lieutenant with the police department for 18 years, with zero disciplinary history. I was preparing for the captain’s exam to move up through the ranks of the NYPD. I get in my car the first day of the lockdown, and I thank God that I have this job, that I get to try to bring order to chaos in this city.
I worked through the whole summer of the riots, every day.
I was out there _every day_. For the first six months, no police officers wore masks. I supported the order to wear them when we started, because it was the same for everyone, and no one was being treated differently.
I contracted Covid prior to vaccines being readily available, I got pneumonia from it, and treatment in New York City at that time was awful. I couldn’t get basic medicine, I was begging for a Z-pack six days into my pneumonia…
I finally healed. I rush back to work, and everything‘s fine, and next thing I know, the mask and testing mandate comes out for the unvaccinated. I was pretty upset about this, and I spoke at a couple of union meetings about it, and I felt it was very discriminatory: you’re creating two tiers of employees: vaccinated, and unvaccinated. I tested my antibodies, and I had _very_ high levels. I just felt that it wasn’t right to tell one group that you don’t have to test or mask, but the other group: you’ve gotta test, you gotta wear a mask, you’re not allowed at ceremonies…and at that point, the union stance was, they’re going to mandate vaccines so there’s nothing you can do about it.
And again, I kept saying, what’s my recourse in any of this? I submitted to the testing for four months, and I never tested positive, even though many of the employees who did take the vaccine to avoid going through the masking and the testing, got Covid!
From the beginning, many of my colleagues did not want to wear a mask and did not want to take the test, and they didn’t feel the need for it – they had already worked the year prior, and they had ways to keep themselves healthy other than medicine. Myself, I never really went to the doctor much, and my first interactions with them was when I had pneumonia from Covid. At that time the doctors, including the NYPD doctors, as the vaccine started to roll out, said, “If you’re going to take the vaccine, we suggest against you taking it right after a recent infection.”
And to me, it made total sense, because I had chickenpox, so I didn’t run out and get the chickenpox vaccine. So all of these things played in my head throughout the whole time they’re pushing this vaccine down our throats: we get these emails, “Hey you’re a danger, it’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” I’m listening to mayor de Blasio go on TV every morning and call the unvaccinated “Criminals.”
Even though, my vaccinated colleagues keep coming into work with Covid, exposing me to it, and I’m still not getting it again. And I keep getting tested, and I’m not getting it. In October, when the vaccine actually became mandated, I submitted my religious exemption, I submitted my sincerely held religious beliefs. I am familiar with OEO law, I’m familiar with with The Human Rights Act of New York State, and I’m familiar with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
So I submit for my religious exemption, saying basically that I believe in God‘s healing powers, I believe he healed me from Covid, I believe the antibodies were given to me through God. I also do not take medicine, I don’t take aspirin when I have a headache, I don’t take medicine for _any_ reason when I’m not sick. If I do need medicine, I’m _sick._ I point to two verses in the Bible, where it says twice: Jesus says, those who are sick are in need of a doctor, and those who are not sick, do not. And even though the Catholic Church tells me that there’s nothing against this vaccine as a tenet of my religion, I believe that it is a tenet of my religion, and whether they want to admit to that or not, it is clearly written in the Bible.
The other thing is, I’m a big believer in the truth, and I was always taught through my whole career: Have integrity! Have integrity! I wanna be the guy who walks into a precinct, where 300 guys are dealing drugs, and I’m gonna be the guy that stops that. I’m the guy who’s gonna lock criminals up, I’m not gonna be the guy who partakes in any of that sin. So I’m a big believer in the truth, and what I believe to be the truth, and I see that I’m not harming anyone by not taking the vaccine, and I’m not doing anything wrong.
And basically I submitted that exemption application, and I said, Hey, you’re offering me $500 to go against my religious beliefs! It’s almost bribery, it’s wrong, I can’t even believe we are at at this point, and I feel that for me to take the vaccine would violate my conscience, which would damn me, not only to hell here on earth, but also to hell in the afterlife.
Meanwhile, of course, athletes and entertainers are allowed to work without vaccination, but not the essential workers.
There are 5000 NYPD members that are still waiting to hear the results of their appeals. And that’s just in the police department!
I’m not a danger to anyone, I went through Omicron and Delta, I’ve never tested positive again, and even if I did, so do vaccinated people! You know what I mean? It’s so arbitrary and capricious, it’s not even funny. And at the same time, I’m being rejected and some of my coworkers are being rejected – only 30% of them are being approved for the religious exemptions. So New York City is completely violating OEO law on this, New York City is no longer an OEO employer, and I don’t know how they can even put that tag on themselves, since they’re not following the law. They’re basically telling one guy who submits a religious exemption, Okay yeah, you’re approved. Then I submit the same exact religious exemption, and: You are denied. So… Someone’s religion is is an undue hardship to the city, and another one’s isn’t? It’s completely arbitrary and capricious, none of it makes sense, and it’s been the same way with the mask mandate on the MTA.
Personally, I had to give up my career. I’m not where I thought I would be, I thought I would getting ready to be a captain in the NYPD and pursue higher ranks. At the end of the day, I’m still blessed, but I’m worried for New York City. I love New York City, I worry for all the young guys that are still living in that city and trying to raise a family, and anyone, any city worker like teachers, nurses, these are great people and they’re being demonized. As crime runs wild in the city, all of a sudden, the people that pay their taxes, the bear the brunt of everything in the city, they are turned into the bad guys, and I just pray for New York. I really do.
There were MANY of my colleagues who took this vaccine and they did not want to take this vaccine. They took it to keep their employment, to put food on the table, and I would never judge anyone for doing that, but it was horrible, the way they were being pushed into it.
The days before you were allowed to submit an exemption, people felt the pressure. Even myself, and I’m not a guy who feels much pressure, I tell you, my right eye at the time was fluttering. It was fluttering for weeks and months leading up to that day…and in that line, at One Police Plaza, everyone’s there lining up to get the shot. And I’m seeing hundreds of guys lining up, day in, day out – as the days got closer it was more and more. It went from 40% vaccinated, to 60% vaccinated, 75% vaccinated… And people were feeling the pressure, and the unions weren’t there for them, they felt they had nowhere to go, and I felt the same way. Which is why I started to look for different career options. I was like, I can’t believe I’m doing this, in my 18th year, looking for different career options! I’m down there at work, I’m watching grown men, with tears in their eyes, sit down, take a shot that they don’t want to take, stand up enraged, and immediately storm out of there: “I had no choice. I had no choice!!!” Same thing with women.
And you know, these are not your average New Yorkers, these are tough, tough people. They’re New York City police officers, they see and go through things that other people have nightmares about. They deal with these things numerous times per day, they are not your average people, and you watch that response to the mandates…it really just cemented my own conviction even more: Hey listen, I can’t do that, I can’t violate my conscience. I can’t sit there and tell my children to do the right thing, to speak up for the truth, and to protect the weak, I can’t tell that to them if I don’t do it. If I were to succumb to take this thing just as compliance, none of it making sense to me, none of it in my religion…I can make money doing something else. If New York City doesn’t want people like you there, if they don’t want people of faith there, it’s time to move on, then. Let Mayor Eric Adams put his uniform back on, and he can be the cop! He can arrest people. He didn’t do it when he was, but he could try now!
For me personally, I grew up in Brooklyn, I lived in Staten Island, I never pictured myself leaving New York. My neighbors loved me, I shoveled the snow for all my neighbors, my whole family is in New York, I _never_ thought that I would leave New York. I thought that I would retire an old man from the police department, maybe get myself a little condo in Florida and travel back-and-forth, and raise my children here. It just didn’t work out that way. I had to leave my career, to basically put food on the table. I had to come to Florida to come to a state that supports my faith.
… Meanwhile, I have no health benefits for my kids, I have no steady check coming in anymore, and I have a disabled daughter, who is blind. She needs care all the time, and it’s a scary world out there. But it’s even scarier to think that, hey: they could ask me to stick whatever they want in my body…and I have to do it? Or force a medical procedure on me just so I can keep my check? I don’t believe in that, and I put my faith in God and I stick to my morals. As stressful and as hard as it is, I still count my blessings. I loved being a cop, I had a great time, and thank God I did save the way I did and I can get through the hard times now.
Jimmy Dore, comedian; injured by his second Covid vaccine dose, he created a stand-up routine about it. This is the very end:
…Well, it’s been great to talk to all of you white supremacists! And in honor of your white supremacy, I’m going to read the statement from the Black Caucus of the Green Party, which got it right: lockdowns, mandates, and passports are the major issue of the day, with millions of people protesting against them worldwide. In fact, what has become known as the medical freedom movement is arguably the biggest and most diverse international movement in the world‘s history. And you’re part of it! Vaccine mandates, and vaccine passports, are among the most vile, unconstitutional, immoral, unscientific, discriminatory, and outright criminal policies ever to be forced upon this population…
That’s the Black Caucus of the Green Party, [effing] white supremacists!
Don’t turn on each other! I have more in common with every person here than I do with Bill Gates. We have more in common than we do with the oligarchs! Don’t turn on your neighbor, keep your attention on the oligarchy, and [eff] authoritarianism. Stand together, love your neighbor, don’t turn on them, support each other! Thank you for being here, stop the mandates!
Trahern Crews, co-author of the Black Caucus Green Party statement referenced above:
…I am now an organizer with Black Lives Matter Minnesota, and we still feel that the mandates are unconstitutional, especially with the history here with Black people in the medical field. It’s just a no-brainer that we don’t accept the vaccine mandates. We’ve been working in the jails here; my sister’s son died from neglect and abuse in the county jail. They tried to tell her he died in their arms and they tried to revive him, but when we got the footage back, we found out that he was laying on the floor for eight hours and they just watched him die when they could have saved him.
So when we’re talking about medical freedom, sometimes even our inmates are being used as guinea pigs inside jails and prisons, and this is another thing we have to watch for.
[Interviewer: It is so interesting that Black Lives Matter is against the mandates, and the Green Party is against the mandates… And also, the police officers are against the mandates! When else do we see BLM and the police come together on an issue like this?! That kind of tells you something.]
The St. Paul police union actually sued the city here about the vaccine mandate, and I think the fire department got involved, so that’s something we both can agree on for sure.
The truckers came through Minnesota on 94, and then right when they were starting to show up, mandates started dropping around here, so they were pretty effective, driving through St. Paul on 94! (Laughs.)
I think the experience we had in DC [at Defeat the Mandates] was: here’s a way to show that there are people from all walks of life, this is not just white supremacists, and lots of people who are impacted by this are black. Like in New York, 75% of people who are black are unvaccinated, and these are hard-working people, who want to take care of their families, take pride in going to work…but then you’re telling them that they have to get a vaccine that they don’t trust? We’re educated enough to know how long a product takes to get approved, and we’re like, why should we do this?
[in New York City public schools, you can’t enter your
child’s school if you’re not vaccinated! If you don’t show your
segregation pass… And that means 60 to 70% of black parents there can’t
enter their child school.]
After the March in D.C., a sister reached out to me because she wasn’t allowed to get on the subway. And here in Minnesota recently, I saw a man get asked for his papers in a restaurant, and he was turned away, and then I was like: Wow, so now they can just pick and choose who they want to ask!
[In New York City, you’re not required to ask for passports, but you are still ALLOWED to ask…if you want. Have we not learned these lessons already?]
Just yesterday, a Republican Minnesota lawmaker activist called for a vaccine mandate ban. “Whether you’re pro-vax or anti-vax, we are for healthcare freedom, and mandates that are one-size-fits-all should not be on the agenda.”
We’re also working on some reparatory justice work, so if any of your viewers can contact our Republican friends here in Minnesota, and tell them to support HF 3850…and keep fighting against injustice, tyranny, authoritarianism! When we keep pushing like this, we’re going to see these mandates fall across the country!
…Now let me tell you all something. I’m going to be honest with you guys: I’m vaccinated, but I did it by choice. I do not subscribe to the mandates that they have us going through in this country! So what I did in New York City is, I went up to Albany, New York and invited 5000 of my friends. I tore up my vaccination card right there, to let them know I would not subscribe to their tyranny.
Now check this out: this whole entire two years, I thought that the virus was actually Covid. And come to find out, the virus was never Covid: the virus was fear. The virus was control.
Now if you notice, in 2022, they’re mandating everything but freedom.
In New York, in early 2020, they were calling frontline workers, “heroes.” They was banging pots at 7 PM, clapping for our heroes. In 2022, they’re firing those same heroes, who are trying to have freedom of choice. It’s crazy, right?
… Are you all familiar with Bobby Kennedy Junior? I got a text last night, and it said, “Tramell, come hiking with me in the morning?”
I said, “Bobby, I have a very important event!“ But I forgot, I’m speaking to a Kennedy! I can’t deny this, right?
But he told me something important. He said, “When we’re going to sleep, the devil was just now putting on their clothes.”
I said, “Mr. Kennedy, they must not know that our guard don’t sleep either.“
Our guard do not sleep!
Now check this out, I want you all to put your hand in the air real quick. If you are American, and you believe in freedom, put your hand in the air! Every time I name a freedom, I want you all to drop a finger: freedom of speech. Freedom of press. Freedom of religion. The right to assemble. The right to petition the government. Do you see this fist? This is our most powerful weapon in this country. It is time to fight back!
- Sarabeth Matilsky Sarabeth Matilsky writes about her family’s unschooling adventures, trying to find as much humor as she can.