MANHATTAN – Less than thirty-six hours before the City’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate kicks in– hundreds of firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers and other city employees descended on Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side, to declare their ‘bodily autonomy,’ because they believe vaccination is a personal choice– ignoring hundreds of years of precedent in the United States where vaccinations have been mandatory for soldiers, civilians and schoolchildren.
“WE MUST ALL SHOW UP AND HOLD THE LINE,” reads a flyer for today’s event circulated amongst firefighters on social media. “If you’re not working, you are going.”
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: ‘Fuck the Vaccine!’ Anti-Vaxxers March on Gracie Mansion
Just before 11am the street started swell with members of the FDNY, NYPD, DSNY, supporters and friends to demand the choice to be tested weekly, rather than be vaccinated. Some in the crowd held signs boasting of their natural immunity– which CDC scientists say is not as protective as vaccination.
One speaker at the event made a point to say that they were not anti-vaccine, just anti-mandate– however, the signs displayed by the crowd would say otherwise.
The speaker, from one of the firefighters unions even called out a sign with a swastika on it– one of at least two in the crowd with anti-semitic imagery– and demanded it be taken down because it makes their demonstration look bad. The person with the swastika sign was not asked to leave by the speaker.
At one point, a group of protesters ‘trashed’ Mayor de Blasio’s lawn, throwing bags of barrage over the fence onto the grounds of Gracie Mansion– where they’ll likely be cleaned up by other city employees.
Protesters dump trash on “NYC Mayor DeBlasio lawn” (Gracie Mansion) as thousands of FDNY, EMS and Sanitation Department gathered to protest vaccination mandates. pic.twitter.com/IuDa8TOtvq— Scootercaster (@ScooterCasterNY) October 28, 2021
Thursday evening, UES Mutual Aid put out a call on Instagram looking for help cleaning up Carl Schurz Park– next to Gracie Mansion– because they said park “was abused by some uncaring people who won’t care enough to get vaccinated.” Linking to the video above, they added that the group, which included police, firefighters, and EMS members was “neither serving, nor protecting” the Upper East Side community.
Last week, Mayor de Blasio announced all City employees would be required to show proof of at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by tomorrow, Friday, October 29th– or they would be put on unpaid leave starting November 1st, lasting until they show proof of vaccination to their supervisor.
To sweeten the deal, the Mayor is even giving a $500 bonus to any unvaccinated city worker who gets the shot by Friday. However, this incentive isn’t giving vaccination rates the boost they need.
“I’d like for everyone who is not vaccinated, get vaccinated by Friday,” Mayor de Blasio said during his daily briefing on Wednesday, “or else they’re going off payroll.”
Republican Mayoral candidate and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, who was at today’s rally outside Gracie Mansion greeting protesters, has said he will ‘hire back’ all the unvaccinated workers who are will be put on unpaid leave come Monday.
On Monday, thousands of City employees representing the NYPD, FDNY and DSNY marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall in protest of the vaccination mandate.
So far more than 85% of adults in New York City have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine– in Manhattan, the number jumps to 90%.
Here’s how the Upper East Side shakes out when it comes to fully-vaccinated adults, by Zip Code:
91% – 10075, 10162
86% – 10065
84% – 10128
79% – 10021
78% – 10028
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York State Department of Health, Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control say all three approved Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective— they all recommend everyone who is eligible, receive the shot to protect themselves and the public.