Catherine Bouris

News

Tue, 5 Oct, 2021

Anti-vaxxers in New York protest outside the Australian consulate

Anti-vaxxers in New York protest outside the Australian consulate

Anti-vaxxers in New York City took to the streets on Monday to protest New York state’s vaccine mandate for public school teachers, and made an unlikely stop along the way: the Consulate General of Australia. Protestors gathered outside the Manhattan building waving signs, flags (both American and Australian) and wielding microphones, chanting ‘Save Australia’.

Save Australia from what, exactly? Their signs give us some clue as to what their primary concern is: one protestor can be seen in a video holding up a sign that says, ‘What is happening in Melbourne?’ Another bears a sign that reads, ‘Australia is the example for the NEW WORLD ORDER. NOT about a virus! Total government control! End the lockdown, forced VAX, police brutality, Hotel Quaratine [sic]. #FREEAUSTRALIA’.

Speaking to the crowd, one (American) protestor who claimed to have been a healthcare worker who had been fired for organising protests in favour of ‘freedom’, said, “What’s going on in Australia is not just going to be Australia. And when it shows up on our doorsteps, we’re gonna punch it right in the f****** teeth”. 

No signs can be seen in the crowd pointing out the relatively small number of Australians who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to Americans, but fortunately Australians on Twitter were available to point that out.

The protest began in Brooklyn earlier in the day, before protestors walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan while chanting, ‘Wake up, New York’ and ‘We, the people, will not comply’, a reference to the preamble of the United States Constitution. In addition to visiting the Australian Consulate, protestors also visited a mobile testing site in Union Square, where they knocked over a tent, table, and chairs.

According to reports, many of the protestors were Department of Education employees, which is why the protest began outside the Department of Education offices in Brooklyn, and why protestors could be heard chanting ‘Let us teach’. They were protesting the department’s vaccine mandate that went into effect on Monday, as the mandate resulted in unvaccinated employees being placed on unpaid leave with health insurance.

The response of various Australian state governments to COVID-19, particularly Victoria’s under Premier Daniel Andrews, has become a hot-button issue in anti-vaccine and conservative American circles, with many decrying the lack of freedoms available to people under lockdown. Last month, one Texas group posted a photo of Australia with the caption, ‘What the world’s largest prison looks like from space’. Many Australians were no doubt surprised that members of the group could locate Australia on a map.

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