Anti-vaccine protests held in Santa Fe

Jun. 27—Two anti-vaccine protests were held Saturday in Santa Fe, just days before Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was set to fully reopen the state as vaccination rates continue to climb.

More than 60 protesters gathered in a shaded area outside the state Capitol to protest the governor's policies and her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're in the minority if we don't want to take the vaccine," said Leanna Derrick, the event's organizer, speaking to a group of demonstrators holding signs that read "Unmask our Kids," "No shots," "Let Kids See Smiles" and "Stop MLG."

Others wore shirts with the slogan "Lizard people 2020," a response to an incident earlier this month when Lujan Grisham called a group of protesters "QAnon lizard people."

"We have to fight tooth and nail," said Derrick, referring to what she called the governor's "unconstitutional" policies. "Do you want to be an experiment?"

The event was held by the grassroots organization Call To Action NM. According to its Facebook page, the group has over 800 members.

Another protest organized by the UNmask NMkids Group also took place Saturday in Santa Fe's Salvador Perez Park.

The protest at the Roundhouse began with a prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and a rendition of the national anthem lead by Derrick.

Many protesters expressed concerns common in the anti-vaccination movement, which has become increasingly visible and vocal during the coronavirus pandemic. They include fears over the alleged haste in which the coronavirus vaccines were approved, the constitutionality of mandated vaccinations and the alleged detrimental effect on those who receive the vaccine, particularly children.

"People between 12-30 have had swelling around the heart," said Marcie May, describing the condition known as myocarditis she said was a common side effect of the vaccine. "It feels like having a heart attack."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis."

Others complained of the Vax 2 Max program, which offers cash prizes for New Mexicans who receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.

"She's bribing our people to take the vaccines," said Brett Kokinadis, director of the STOP MLG campaign.

"Her policies are evil," said Derrick. "They hurt New Mexicans of all population and ages."

A spokeswoman for the Governor's Office could not be reached for comment Saturday.

While the vaccination rate has climbed to over 60 percent in New Mexico, some said they do not ever plan to get the vaccine.

"Why would I get something that can hurt my children and me?" said a protester who did not wish to be named.

A recent survey conducted by the University of New Mexico's Center for Social Policy found one-third of unvaccinated residents don't want the vaccine. Another 15 percent who had their first shot did not intend to get a second dose.