Unpaid leave for city workers grows closer
As the deadline for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaccination mandate loomed, city workers opposed to compulsory COVID vaccination shut down the Brooklyn Bridge Monday, chanting “My Body, My Choice” and other slogans.
On Sunday, more anti-vax protesters demonstrated in front of Barclays Center prior to the Nets’ home opener, shouting “Let Kyrie Play!” Kyrie Irving, one of the Nets’ biggest stars, has refused to get vaccinated, and in response, the Nets management has refused to allow him to play so far this season.
It was unclear whether the two protests were related, or related to a similar anti-vaccination protest by a group of teachers and school staffers earlier this month.
What is clear is that at the end of Friday, Oct. 29, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, unvaccinated city employees will be placed on unpaid leave until they show proof of vaccination to their supervisors. On the other hand, newly vaccinated city employees will receive an extra $500 after getting their first shot.
While estimates vary, as many as 71 percent of city employees have complied with the vaccine mandate. In some agencies, the figures are much greater. For example, rates among Department of Education and Health and Hospitals employees are 95 percent and 96 percent, respectively, according to nyc.gov. However, among the unvaccinated, there is a hard core of opponents who don’t intend to go quietly.
On the Brooklyn Bridge on Monday, thousands of city workers disrupted traffic while carrying placards, American flags and other flags, such as the “Don’t Tread on Me” banner. Many of those who were interviewed said they weren’t against the COVID vaccine per se, but just wanted a choice, according to CBS2.
Republican mayoral candidate, Guardian Angels founder and radio host Curtis Sliwa was at the protest and said he is against the mandate, according Eyewitness News. “We already don’t have enough cops, we don’t have enough correction officers, we don’t have enough health care workers, we don’t have enough teachers,” he told reporters.
Videos posted on Twitter revealed that many of the protesters, as they crossed the bridge, chanted, “F—- Joe Biden and de Blasio!”
Some commenters on Twitter opposed the protest, others supported the protests, and a small number were just annoyed that the protesters stopped traffic. Blastnoise tweeted, “Don’t get vaccinated if you don’t want, but stay your ass home!”
At the Barclays Center protest the previous day, some demonstrators reportedly tried to break into the arena. Barclays Center then temporarily closed its doors in order to make sure guests could safely enter the arena, Mandy Gutmann, a Barclays Center spokesperson, said in a statement.
Some of the protesters carried signs saying “Stand With Kyrie.”
The Blaze, a conservative website, alleged that the Barclays protests were organized by Black Lives Matter, but this writer was unable to find any confirmation of this claim.