BROOKLYN, NY – New York City municipal employees on Monday held a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the looming deadline of the COVID-19 vaccination mandate issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Thousands of demonstrators walked over the bridge while on the way to City Hall as a means of showing their support on behalf of the approximately 50,000 NYC employees who have yet to take the jab. If they fail to present proof of at least having received their first shot by 5 p.m. Friday, they face being placed on unpaid leave starting November 1.
“It’s time now. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you’ll be put on unpaid leave,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Well, the vast majority of human beings go to work to get paid. And also, I think for a lot of our first responders, there’s a calling. They believe in the work, they care about the work. Those two factors I think are going to cause the vast majority to get vaccinated.”
As an additional incentive to get the jab, de Blasio said that employees who get their first shot at a city-run site will receive $500.
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No option to opt-out of being vaccinated in favor of regular testing is being offered for city workers, although exceptions for medical or religious reasons are.
All manner of public employees were present at Monday’s march, including police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, paramedic, schoolteachers, and the unvaccinated and vaccinated alike; and all were there to voice their opposition to mandated vaccinations.
Curtis Sliwa, who is running for NYC mayor on the Republican ticket, was at the protest and stated that the vaccination mandate will end up doing more harm than good if thousands of essential city workers are sent home come Friday.
“I think especially these draconian measures that all civil servants have to be vaccinated or they get fired, 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 said. “So, who’s getting hurt by all of us, obviously, students, citizens, people who need services. Stop this nonsense, and the mandate.”
In addition to Monday’s march, a chaotic demonstration was held on Sunday at the Barclays Center to support NBA player Kyrie Irving, point guard for the Brooklyn Nets. Irving is refusing to be vaccinated and, as a result of the New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandate – which requires proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms, museums, entertainment and sporting venues – is currently ineligible to play or practice with the team and is not getting paid.
Thousands of NYC workers could be facing the same fate as Irving if they are not vaccinated by Friday.