Protest held against vaccine mandates
Protesters against student vaccine mandates
By ESTHER AVILA
Drivers waved, offered thumbs-up signals, honked their car horns, and some shouted “Go Brandon” as parents, children and other supporters gathered Monday morning at the corner of Henderson Avenue and Newcomb Street at Veterans Park with signs and an upside-down American flag to protest the future, mandatory COVID vaccination of children.
“I am NOT your experiment,” “Stop the Mandate,” “Let’s Go Brandon” “Honk for Freedom” and even “#FJB” were just some of the signs at the protest which grew from 20 at 9 a.m. to more than 100 by late morning, said Josh Flowers, who was spearheading the second half of the protest.
The protest was statewide and intended as a protest to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) vaccine mandate for children in grades kindergarten through high school.
Though no official mandate has been made by the Porterville Unified School District, parents and supporters have attended two board meetings to protest the upcoming mandate, said PUSD Superintendent Nate Nelson
“There were approximately 40 members from the community attending the (PUSD) school board meeting on October 14,” said Josh Flowers. “In three weeks, the group has grown to over 200 but parents just find it hard to get to the board meetings at 4:30 p.m. on a Thursday due to work.”
Nelson did confirm more individuals attended the second board meeting to address the PUSD Board and said it's disappointing when students do not show up for class. There has been a lot of concern by parents about the COVID vaccines, he said.
“Not at the local level. We’re not making requirements like other districts. We’re not deviating like other districts,” Nelson said. “I understand their concerns but it is one of those areas more effectively addressing it at the State level legislature.”
The increased absences have also been noticed, Nelson said, especially at the high school level. However numbers aren't readily available as they have to be determined per class period.
“It comes at a time of the year where there are already COVID related and quarantine absences,” Nelson said. “So it takes a while to sort it all out.”
Nelson also said it]s disappointing to see students stay home since they have already missed a lot of school during the COVID pandemic when the schools were closed.
According to Flowers, who said he has a Burton District source he can't disclose, approximately 1,300 Burton School District students didn't attend school on Monday.
However, Burton School District Superintendent Sergio Mendoza said the number was between 900 and 1,000 absences on Monday.
“Our school district parents always have a choice but we as a school district always want to stay open to have a consistent time at school,” Mendoza said, echoing Nelson’s concerns on how students have already missed a lot of school due to no school days and hybrid days. “I hope students stayed out for that reason and not just used it as a reason to stay home.”
And currently, Mendoza said, the statement proposed on October 1 wouldn't go into effect till January 1 or July 1, 2022.
“It all depends on a full FDA approval,” Mendoza said.
Flowers concern is the doses have already been purchased.
“They will be here in a couple of weeks,” Flowers said about a statement coming out of the White House. “(They’re) saying they could be ready to go as early as November once FDA approved under the Emergency Use Act.”
Michael Deatherage said the vaccines are a push for control by the government.
“They’re taking away our freedom and we have to come together or we will be pushed around,” Deatherage said as he held a “Let’s Go Brandon!” and “#FJB” posters.
The posters, he explained, are a politically-correct way of saying what they really want to say.
The phrase refers to a viral video following the Talladegea race victory of NASCAR driver Brandon Brown. In the NBC Sports video, the crowd behind Brown began chanting “(explicit) Joe Biden” while getting interviewed. However the reporter claimed the chant was “Let’s go Brandon.”
Rianne Rambo, who was also at the protest, said it is not too early to start protesting.
“There’s a possible mandate for July 2022, but can also be as early as January,” Rambo said.
Flowers agreed, saying parental rights are getting violated.
“We’re stepping out for parental rights, not medical tyranny,” Flowers said. “ A select few are telling us what to do. These are our kids. This is a drug passing through the emergency-use authorization act. We want to be patient at this point and see what happens. Currently we are a human experiment. Any pharmaceutical representative says to wait seven years and we’re not even at 10 months.”
Flowers went on to say for the past year everyone was told children were immune to COVID and the only real concern was for those who were age 70 or older.
“This makes parents take caution, especially since it’s an experiment,” Flowers said. “They’re infringing our kids’ rights, telling us their hands are tied and we have to (address) Sacramento. We need the board fighting for us, not for Sacramento.”
“We don’t give consent of any of this. We’re standing up for the Constitution. Freedom of Choice,” Flowers said.
“I’m here to wake up Porterville. Porterville is asleep. Leave the American dream in tact because we do believe it is an assault on freedom. It’s a bigger fight than people know.”
For more information, one can visit Blessingsofliberty.life or call Flowers at 559-804-0773.