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On Tuesday, August 17, an official iron curtain descends over New York City, as unvaccinated New Yorkers are barred entrance to all indoor restaurants, bakeries, catering halls, event spaces, grocery stores that contain indoor dining, fast food restaurants, bars, hotel banquet rooms, coffee shops, nightclubs, museums and galleries, cabarets, bowling alleys, movie theaters, live music, concert venues, aquariums and zoos, professional sports arenas, stadiums, convention centers, exhibition halls, performing arts theaters, arcades, pool and billiard halls, recreational game centers, casinos, gyms, fitness centers, indoor classes, pools, fitness studios, dance studios, and sports classes.
Mayor de Blasio announced on Monday that New Yorkers must possess “the Key to NYC” in the form of a vaccine pass to “participate in everything our city has to offer” and that scoffers will face legal consequences for disobeying his decree. Small businesses, which struggled during the lockdown, may not survive this latest blast of tyranny, and thousands of workers will lose jobs that enable them to feed their families.
De Blasio, who vehemently supported Black Lives Matter marches during the lockdown, is now barring most young black New Yorkers from entering the city’s restaurants and other establishments. Only 28% of black New Yorkers ages 18 to 44 are fully vaccinated, and they will now be forced into a shadowy apartheid existence, unable to work, eat, or play in tens of thousands of city businesses.
On Sunday, a raucous crowd of more than 300 people gathered near Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s official home, to protest the vaccine mandates. Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate for Mayor, addressed the cheering crowd; so did Andrew Giuliani, who’s considering a run for governor, and “Bronx Tina” Forte, who’s running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The mood was impassioned and furious, with an energized crowd chanting “Freedom over fear!” and “Unmask our children!” Governor Andrew Cuomo, who’s been forced to resign in disgrace, was a particularly hated target of the crowd. Chants of “Lock him up!” rang out at every mention of the 15,000 elderly victims who died as a result of his executive order forcing COVID patients into nursing homes.
I wandered through the crowd, asking people what brought them to the rally. “We the People are pissed off,” Lucille, a feisty, gray-haired woman from Staten Island, told me. “I like my freedoms and I believe in the Constitution. We’re not taking it anymore.”
Carol, from Queens, said, “This is beyond words, beyond human comprehension. De Blasio is utterly detestable.” Nearby, Pamela, a teacher from Westchester, and Gwen, a social worker from the Bronx, said the edicts are “damaging kids irrevocably with masks. No data supports wearing masks. People are not going to put up with it.”
Ed from Manhattan worked in hospitals for ten years. “It takes billions of dollars and years of research to get a drug approved. What are the side effects? What’s the long-term impact of the vaccine? They don’t tell us. Now they’re saying we’ve got to get the vaccine because the ICUs are packed. ICUs are always packed! It’s all lies.”
Several people told me they came to hear Curtis Sliwa, a legendary figure in New York for his founding of the Guardian Angels, a team of volunteer crime-stoppers. Jennifer, a young political activist, said Sliwa has been her hero since she was a girl because he made the city safer. “Curtis is a breath of fresh air. Now de Blasio is telling us we have to show papers to get into an establishment. That goes way too far. What about freedom?”
Perhaps the most unusual perspective came from Stephen, a “cosmic shaman” from Brooklyn. He said he and other healers have noticed that vaccinated people exude black energy for several months after vaccination. “It’s like the vaccine creates a barrier to make you numb. It reduces chakra levels. This is a spiritual war, and it’s a war on our DNA.”
Many people found it difficult to accept that either Governor Cuomo or Mayor de Blasio, who presided over the massive nursing home deaths, care about our health. “If they really cared about our health, they’d talk about a healthy lifestyle. Instead, they bribe us to get the vaccine with donuts and pizza,” said Brian Kenny, a founder of We Are Change.
“It’s not about our health; it’s about total control,” a young woman from Queens told me in anguished tones. “They plan to track our every move and every aspect of our lives. You won’t be able to access your money in your bank if you don’t have the vaccine.”
“Most people don’t feel comfortable speaking out,” she continued. “They were told things would go back to normal if you got vaccinated. And they’re getting more and more down every day because you can’t do happy things with your family and friends.”
Ann, 67, came with a group called Long Island Loud Majority, filled with steely resolve. “This situation doesn’t compare to anything I’ve ever seen. This is 1984. But we’re going to win by 1776.”
The horrifying decrees of New York are spreading to San Francisco and New Orleans next week. Los Angeles and other cities may soon follow. And nobody in the crowd at Sunday’s rally would be surprised if the rules get increasingly strict, eventually barring the unvaccinated from using public transport, entering any place of business, or even getting medical treatment.
We’re in new territory, and nobody knows where it ends. As Cait from Students Against Mandates told the crowd, “this is a war on our bodies, a war on our freedom, and a war on our children.”