WASHINGTON DC — Thousands of people came from all over the country to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to protest the vaccine mandates being implemented throughout the nation. The Defeat the Mandates DC rally drew attendees from a wide variety of political stripes. Physicians, attorneys, grassroots organizers and activists, athletes and musicians of all ages and walks of life were on hand. It’s part of a global protest movement that has gained momentum as governments have installed increasingly restrictive vaccine mandates and passport regimes.
“When indigenous protesters from El Alto in La Paz, Bolivia, Moroccans in Casablanca, Iranians in Tehran, Swedes in Stockholm, Lebanese in Beirut, Germans in Berlin are all protesting the mandates in their own societies, then this isn’t a left/right issue,” explained The Grazyone’s, Max Blumenthal. “It’s about the global 99% fighting against a cold and ruthless machine that seeks to reduce every individual to a QR code.”
The spin war
But in the days and hours leading up to the event, mainstream media outlets, many of which run paid advertisements for pharmaceutical corporations, were calling the rally-goers anti-vax – the McCarthyite smear applied to anyone who questioned the official narrative about the pandemic response. These reports cited anonymous government officials to warn that protesters could be violent extremists.
“Officials fear extremist groups will be there,” cautioned CNN.
“These extremist forums are into this rally,” said MSNBC reporter Ben Collins.
“More and more bringing in extremist elements,” echoed Dr. Peter Hotez.
“So the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Metropolitan and U.S. Park Police and others are helping local businesses prepare for the crowds and possibly confront protesters who may refuse to wear masks indoors or provide vaccination cards or comply with D.C. rules,” CNN continued.
Early in the morning, before the crowds arrived, NBC was on hand.
“Last night on MSNBC, they were declaring that this rally was full of extremists,” I told a man who MSNBC had just interviewed. “Does that seem like a fair description of you or what you’ve seen here so far?”
“That definitely doesn’t seem like a fair description,” he told me, continuing,
No. It’s kind of a fishy narrative to put out ahead of the game. You know, like, I have a good feeling that this is going to be a worthwhile event that’s going to maybe bring people together.”
As the morning went on, rally-goers congregated at the Washington Monument before marching to the Lincoln Memorial. At the center, an organization of firefighters protesting the mandate. Still, there was no sign of violence. As for extremism? Some held signs calling for a decrease in the polarization that has gripped the nation over the past several years, thanks in no small part to mainstream media.
We the people
Some blame the vaccine mandates on socialism and others on capitalism. Either way, the crowd was perhaps the most politically diverse to have ever gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“I love that people are out here for a common cause,” Josh Filipowski, who had traveled from Boston, told me.
There are people who are here representing religion. There are people here representing politics. I’m here representing what I believe in, and that’s children should not be vaccinated with an experimental vaccine. It said if you recover from COVID, you shouldn’t be required. No one should be required to have a vaccine if they don’t want it, and that doctors should be able to do their jobs without restriction. We know a vaccination card does not equal a negative COVID test. We know that it doesn’t prevent transmission. It makes zero sense besides trying to force order on people.”
Anna Steyn pointed out the hypocrisy of the pro-choice movement.
My message is that there can’t be a gray area in making decisions that are right for our bodies like there’s so much hypocrisy on both sides. I mean, the left decided to champion my body, my choice. Now a lot of them are completely backpedaling on that and saying that we’re not respecting other people by not getting vaccinated, and we know that’s just not true. These school nurses came from New Jersey and will soon be fired as they will not comply with imminent vaccine mandates.”
I spoke with two school nurses from New Jersey who may soon be fired for resisting vaccine mandates. “For New Jersey, you’re not fully vaccinated unless you are double vaxxed, plus the booster, and that all starts February twentieth as well, which happens to be my birthday. Happy birthday, right? You’re losing your job,” Jan Fish told me.
“Thank God I’m close to retirement because I and that’s partly why I’m out here for all the other parents and other healthcare workers that don’t have a choice that has to put food on their table,” remarked Eileen Valerio.
New York City firefighter Sophy Medina represents Bravest For Choice, a coalition of firefighters opposed to vaccine mandates. She says firefighting crews were already short-staffed before the vaccine mandates. “The workforce was already depleted, and this just depleted it even more.
It’s going to affect everyone, whether or not whatever area you stand for with the vaccine or not, the fire doesn’t care. The emergencies don’t care,” she said.
New York City subway conductor and union representative Tramell Thompson called for media outlets to stop demonizing people and for unity among the public, no matter their political background.
Let’s stop the division. Let’s stop the separation. Let’s not buy into the segregation portion of this, this whole entire rally. This fight back was about choice. From the beginning. It was about being against mandates and not anti-vaccine. A lot of people didn’t know that I am vaccinated, right? I’m one of the leading voices in this movement. And when we first hit the scene, you know, the media was like, you know, they’re anti-vaxxers. And I’m like, How can we be anti-vaxxers? And I’m vaccinated? So, you know, my message is going to be a message of unity. As Americans, I don’t care what race, religion, color, creed, we’re going to come together and we’re going to fight these mandates together. Vaccinated, unvaccinated. Don’t care about your political party. You guys will come together.”
Tricia Lindsey is a civil rights and constitutional attorney. She’s been outspoken in opposition to New York City’s vaccine mandates, which she says have been particularly harmful in black and brown communities.
We already didn’t have equal access to certain services, benefits and things of that nature. So now what happens when we now have to walk around with vaccine passports in order to gain access to benefits to restaurants or schools? It’s back to the slave passports.”.
“Are you free or are you not free? You can’t go here if you’re not free or you clean or not clean, you know. And so it’s gone. It’s almost PTSD it brings up because it’s going back hundreds of years.”
Activists like Joe Rose have held civil rights movement-style acts of disobedience to protest New York City’s vaccine passports. “I was actually arrested on December 15,” she recalled. “I won’t ever forget. It’s very similar to the civil rights movement because that’s what Martin Luther King and many other great activists said. They went in places that they were told that they couldn’t go in. Some of them got arrested and beaten down, and I can’t believe that people do not see the correlation to that. Yeah, it’s not being done by race anymore, but it’s been done by vaccination status and it’s wrong. You know, not just myself getting arrested. Other New Yorkers have gotten arrested, even children are being removed from restaurants, and once you start targeting children. That’s the lowest of the low. And because, you know, it makes me feel dirty, it makes me feel like I’m no longer human. I’ve been dehumanized.”
“Stand for what’s right,” she urged.
Whether you took the vaccine or not, this is a fight for equal rights. They’re going to keep asking for more and more and more. And when you say no, you’re we consider unvaccinated and then you’ll be on my side.
“OK, stand up. All right. Put your differences to the side. And remember, that is us. We the people versus the 1%.”
Retired NBA player Kwame Brown spoke about the pressure athletes faced to take the Covid vaccine and the pressure on Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who is not allowed to play in New York City because of vaccine mandates.
They’re afraid, they’re attacking Kyrie because he’s a big superstar. That’s against the norm for a superstar, not to follow protocol. I like to call it, to go along and get along game on my YouTube. A guy like Kyrie Irving, they care more about him controlling the minds of others than they do about Jonathan Isaac. So celebrities are under a tremendous amount of pressure because they use celebrities to control the black community, in my opinion.”
A cause célèbre
Days ahead of the rally. Headline speaker Robert F Kennedy Jr had already been smeared in The Washington Post. Those efforts continued ahead of his speech.
MSNBC reporter Gary Grumbach described him as “Robert F Kennedy, junior, noted anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist.
Kennedy succinctly explained how physicians have been vilified and how Pfizer has manipulated and withheld Covid vaccine trials data. Yet while mainstream media ignored almost all of his speech, they focused on one short excerpt.
It’s been the ambition of every totalitarian state from the beginning of mankind to control every aspect of behavior, of conduct of thought, and to obliterate dissent. None of them have been able to do it. He didn’t have the technological capacity. Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could. You could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You can hide in an attic like Anne Frank did in 1962, East Germany. My father met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died doing it. But it was possible. Today, the mechanisms are being put in place. Will make it none of us can run and none of us can hide.”
Mainstream media outlets like The Daily Beast, Rolling Stone and CNN seized upon the oppurtunity to discredit Kennedy’s message. No surprise, The Daily Beast also runs advertisements for Pfizer. Yet Kennedy’s statement is factually accurate. Bill Gates is putting up a vast network of surveillance satellites, and even mainstream outlets admit 5G is used for surveillance.
Big pharma’s carte blanche
Stephanie de Garay says the dangers of Covid vaccines are very real, and she would know. Her 13-year-old daughter Maddie was left severely injured after volunteering for Pfizer’s Covid vaccine trial.
“The zaps, up and down, electrical shots, shocks, up down your spine, de Garay said,
She had severe abdominal pain in her lower right abdomen. She… her heart. She said it felt like it was being ripped out of her neck. She… pain all over her body, her toes and her fingers were white. Her body was having a severe immune response, it really what it comes down to.”
Yet the hospital that administered the trial has shirked responsibility. And Pfizer has legal immunity.
“So we are seeing four new doctors that are not covered through insurance, but we’ll do the appropriate tests and give her the appropriate treatment, so that means we pay out of pocket,” de Garay said.
When I was interviewing Stephanie de Garay, MSNBC, which runs advertisements for Pfizer, was a few yards away, smearing people like her as anti-vaxxers.
“The message here is very anti-vaccination. It’s been a misinformation fest. We’ve seen misinformation about the so-called dangers of vaccines,” said MSNBC reporter Brandy Zadrozny.
“When you talk about anti-vax, they’re to make it something bad, and all it is is people that, something happened to their kid, or somebody they love, and they didn’t get help,” commented de Garay.
That is what anti-vax is. It’s you didn’t help me, now I’m afraid. It’s afraid of vaccines, because how do I know this isn’t going to happen to my other kids? How do I know what’s going to happen the next time she gets the vaccine?”
Journalist Del Bigtree called for the media to be held accountable.
What needs to be nailed to the wall needs to be held up and made accountable, are those news agencies that forced, and you know, lied about the dangers of this vaccine forced a product upon the people and stood behind the forcing of that product that had never gone through proper safety trials.”
“We are supposed to be asking the questions. We’re supposed to stand on the same platform, with the same pillar of truth as science is, which is the scientific method. That method demands that we challenge and ask the hard questions of any hypothesis, any product that is out there. And instead, we toed the line for a product that was not properly safety tested. This is going to make billions of dollars for the people that made it, and is totally protected from liability for all those that are injured. They will have no recourse and we will never see this product evolve and be made safer because of that liability protection.”
Dissenting doctors speak out
Perhaps those most vilified are the physicians and scientists who have advocated early treatment and questioned the quality of the Covid vaccines.
“What we are trying to do is bring good quality data to the public and let them know look, early treatment works. We have plenty of strategies,” explained Dr. Richard Urso.
The vaccines are leaky and we don’t recommend them at this time. For pretty much almost anyone, there’s going to be other good vaccines. Almost everyone, I think 99% of the doctors that were up there today are even taking vaccines. Their kids have all had vaccines. I have six kids, 300 vaccines in my kids. It’s not an anti-vax movement, it’s basically a good science movement. And that’s what we really want people to know is that there’s a better way. And that’s our goal is to lead a better way.”
Dr. Mary Bowden was suspended by Houston Methodist Hospital for writing on social media about treating Covid-19 with Ivermectin, the Nobel Prize-winning antiparasitic drug. So she resigned and opened her own practice. Now she’s suing the hospital where she used to work, and the hope is to see if they have any financial ties to vaccine companies.
“Are they being rewarded for using the protocols that they’re using? Are there are executives getting financial windfalls from what’s been going on?” she asked. “So [I am] hoping it will just shed some light on conflicts of interest.”
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, taught medicine at the University of California, Irvine, and was director of medical ethics at the University of California Irvine Hospital. He sued the university on behalf of patients who had gained natural immunity and was fired for refusing to take the Covid vaccine.
He’s now part of an action to force the FDA to release Pfizer’s clinical trials data.
I, along with several of the other doctors and scientists here and many others who are not here today, filed a Freedom of Information Act against the FDA to get the clinical trials data on which authorization of their vaccine was based. FDA came back at us and said we can give you 500 pages a month, which, if you do, the math means that the clinical trial data would have been available in 75 years after most of us are going to be gone. Our lawyer, Aaron Syra, came back said ‘That’s absurd.’ Went to the judge. The judge agreed. Ordered Pfizer to get that data out within eight months. So in the next day, I mean, they shouldn’t. They should be putting it out immediately. But at least in the next eight months, we’re going to have that clinical trials data. We’re going to have external independent researchers looking at it’s going to be available to the public and we’re going to start getting more answers on safety and efficacy of these vaccines.”
Dr. Paul Alexander is a research scientist appointed to the Trump administration. He advocated for protecting the vulnerable and against lockdowns for the general public.
Our approach was you strongly protect the vulnerable, the elderly in society. You make reasonable decisions and precautions, but you basically let the rest of society live normal, largely normal lives with safety precautions as needed. We didn’t have to lock down. We didn’t have to close schools. It harmed and killed our children.”
“The vast majority of people who complied with the lockdowns did it with good motives,” commented Dr. Aaron Kheriaty. “I want to protect the elderly. I want to protect the vulnerable.”
However, these doctors say that the government’s medical and scientific advisers knew that the lockdowns would not achieve the stated goals of stopping the spread but would inflict damage on society.
“I think there were some bad actors who had political or financial or economic motivations for the lockdowns, who saw Covid as an opportunity to re-envision society and social relations and assume power and gain new methods of social control,” Kheriaty said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people died, and not from the virus,” Dr. Alexander told me.
They died from the policies of the CDC. The NIH, you know, put it this way I don’t even blame Trump, and I never blame Trump, and I don’t even blame Biden. It’s not a political thing for me. I blame the bureaucrats and technocrats in those agencies. It was their decisions that these presidents and these governments implement. They’re not scientists. They depend on their and their scientific agencies to inform them. So there’s something wrong with our scientific agencies, too, that we need to look at because they clearly they’ve been flat wrong on every policy.”
Hyperpartisanship’s deadly effects
As lockdowns took their toll, the media turned a blind eye.
“We were getting data very early from about May of 2020, that people in the different states in America, business owners, employees laid off, and particularly children, they were self-harming themselves, and they were committing suicide,” recalled Dr. Alexander.
We had many little children in America from the different states who committed suicide, and the media would not cover it back then because Trump at that point was calling on the society to open and schools. So the media’s decision was, we can’t cover these suicides, any kids, because it will make Trump look good. It is a very perverse thing that we did as a society, and we allowed because we had indications of little children hanging themselves in America, which is a devastating situation, and we must never allow this to happen again.”
Attorney Parisa Fishback is working to hold legally accountable those who crafted lockdown policies, mask mandates and vaccine mandates that had disastrous effects on public health.
“A lot of it boils down to discrimination of a certain class for an unreasonable and arbitrary reason,” she told me.
Quite frankly, when the vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission, you are no longer dealing with public health or safety at that point. So when the law is unreasonable and arbitrary, then it’s discriminatory and it’s action to segregate that class of people.”
With the Omicron variant now dominant, the pandemic appears to be all but over, yet western governments continue to implement restrictive policies.
Dr. Alexander called on governments to lift restrictions on the public while still taking precautions for the most vulnerable.
You have now the media and different experts are beginning to talk about, Well, maybe we should have to live with the virus. That’s what we said from the beginning. This is a virus. It’s a mutating virus; it’s a respiratory virus. It will likely become endemic. We said that two years ago and like how we live with common cold coronaviruses today, they were pandemics at some point 200 years ago, and they became endemic, and the viruses will mutate to learned milder versions, and now Omicron. The good news is that Omicron has presented the global community with a gift. It’s almost an offramp, an exit strategy, if you’re willing, if you’re brave enough to take it, governments, because it’s basically the pandemic is over. And that’s what we are seeing that we need to be bold and brave as societies now, to say, it’s time. It’s time to finish this and declare the pandemic emergency over and let us live our lives and take reasonable precautions.”
The rally ended abruptly when police cut electricity and swept the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. Yet, despite the cacophony of mainstream media warnings of potential violence, the rally was peaceful and ended without incident, leaving me to wonder, who the real extremists are.
Dan Cohen is the Washington DC correspondent for Behind The Headlines. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. He tweets at @DanCohen3000.