(The Hill) — Thousands of protesters protesting vaccine mandates descended on Washington, DC on Sunday, mostly without masks, with some sporting far-right and pro-Trump memorabilia and others drawing comparisons between the vaccine and the Holocaust.
The Metropolitan Police Department told The Hill there had been no arrests or police reports as of late Sunday afternoon as a result of the gathering around the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. But some locals feared the crowd could descend into chaos, and some recalled the recent anniversary of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which WUSA said was preceded by a rally by pro-Trump supporters opposed to the certification of the 2020 elections protested.
Rally organizers predicted about 20,000 people would attend the event, but the Washington Post reported that what appeared to be a smaller crowd of a few thousand had gathered by Sunday afternoon.
According to the Post, many of the attendees wore right-wing pro-Trump attire. Others reportedly shouted at people to take off their masks.
Signs and images were seen on social media denouncing federal health officials and prominent public figures who have been pushing vaccinations. In a video posted on Twitter, A bus featured pictures of CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, President Biden’s senior medical adviser Anthony Fauci and Microsoft founder Bill Gates plastered on the side with the word “WANTED” across their faces.
Some signs appeared to incite violence against others, including a sign that read, “Shoot those who try to abduct and vaccinate your child.” Many signs referred to Bible passages and Christian figures in their protest against vaccinations.
videos The rally shows a woman seen wearing a large yellow star worn by Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe to identify them, while other images include signs such as “I’m not a lab rat” and “Stop the Capture Vaccine Holocaust.”
The protest comes as most of the US is currently experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. According to health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are currently over 716,000 new COVID-19 cases in the United States on a seven-day average.
The current seven-day average for COVID-19-related deaths in the US has already surpassed the peak average deaths observed during the delta variant surge, although it is lower than the peak deaths observed was before vaccines were made widely available.
This week, DC introduced a new rule requiring multiple types of businesses to verify that customers over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This mandate applied to restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment venues and nightclubs.
A host of anti-vaccination activists spoke at the Lincoln Memorial, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who was banned from some social media platforms, including Instagram, for making false claims about vaccinations.
Robert Malone, an anti-vaccine scientist, told the crowd it was “irrelevant” whether it was “meaningful” that vaccines protected “the elderly and infirm” and peddled the false claim that vaccines don’t work against the virus .