Protestors took to the streets in New York City yesterday to continue to vocalize their collective opposition to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Kathy Hochul's vaccine mandates. The massive protests were organized by the Teachers March, which has been staging weekly demonstrations to demand that New Yorkers get their rights to medical self-determination back.
On-the-ground video from the protest was recorded by independent videographer Brendan Gutenschwager, showing marchers at the Union Square protest booing at a COVID-19 testing site that was set up under a tent on 14th Street.
Two demonstrators flipped over a table, folding chair, and the COVID-19 mobile testing tent itself. "Shame on you!" was chanted in the background of the footage.
New York City Police Department officers intervened at the chaotic scene, guarding the toppled site as protesters shouted, "No vaccine mandates!"
A police officer clapped for the crowd as protesters marched past the Supreme Court of New York. A few court officers shook hands with a demonstrator who approached law enforcement and thanked the handful of cops.
As a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public school teachers came into effect, educators and supporters donning patriot-themed atire gathered outside the Department of Education in downtown Brooklyn with protest signs that read "Coercion Is Not Choice," "No Medical Apartheid," and "My Body, My Choice."
"When we all say, 'No,' the system is gonna collapse and they won't be able to operate without us," a speaker yelled into a megaphone outside the city's Education Department. The crowd erupted into applause, cheering in agreement.
"The system is corrupt!" the large-scale assembly shouted repeatedly as an event speaker said over the bullhorn, "This is a human rights violation."
The hundreds of protesters assembled Monday bellowed unyielding phrases such as "Hold the line!" and "We will not comply!"
"Let us teach!" rang out during the anti-vaccine mandates march.
"F**k Joe Biden and de Blasio!" the crowd chanted at one point, demanding "Medical Freedom Now!" from the city, state, and federal governments.
Protesters marched into Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, shutting down the Manhattan-bound side of the roadway while "Save Australia!"chants roared.
A large Australian flag was waved at the head of the protest line.
Mayor de Blasio issued a final warning to the city's public school staffers Friday, stating that unvaccinated employees would be placed on unpaid leave and not be allowed to work this week. Monday was the deadline for education staff to have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Neither de Blasio nor the schools chancellor had an exact number on hand pinpointing the amount of DOE staffers placed on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with the citywide vaccine mandate.
Approximately 8,000 out of all 148,000 Education Department employees, 3,000 out of 78,000 teachers, and 12 out of 1,600 principals remain unvaccinated. Most were replaced with substitutes, CBS News York reported.
"I refused to get vaccinated," said paraprofessional Stefanie Deliteris whose husband is a custodian and worked through the COVID-19 pandemic, cleaning rooms. The couple lost both jobs and are out of work, Deliteris told CBS News.
"We were essential last year and now we're just zeroes this year," Deliteris said.
Over seven years, teacher Michellene Barrett has been an educator. "I feel very insulted [...] I really love my job. I didn't want to leave and I'm being forced to leave because of my choice," Barrett told CBS News.
According to the United Federation of Teachers, 3,000 union members submitted exemptions. About 1,000 were approved, mostly for medical reasons.
The vaccination mandate in the nation's largest school system does not include a "test-out" or "opt-out" option but does allow for such medical and religious exemptions. The vaccine mandate was supposed to go into effect last week, but it was delayed when a federal appeals court granted a temporary injunction on behalf of the plaintiffs. An appeals panel reversed the decision three days later.
In early August, the New York State United Teachers Union came out against vaccine mandates. Protests have since erupted in the wake of the draconian orders.
A Sept. 18 medical freedom protest in Manhattan saw thousands of demonstrators gather and march throughout the New York City streets, protesting the Biden administration's federal vaccine mandate and the city's own COVID-19 rules.
New Yorkers marched in the city streets last Monday to protest against vaccine mandates. The NYC Walkout 2 protest at Foley Square mobilized after Governor Hochul's announcement that she had granted herself emergency powers and stated that the National Guard would to be deployed to hospitals following the termination of health care workers who refuse to be vaccinated.