Anti-vaxx rally - latest: Outrage at RFK Jr Holocaust comments at vaccine mandate opponents gathering in DC

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Covid-19 vaccine mandate opponents gathered today for a march in Washington, DC in an event organisers called “Defeat the Mandates: An American Homecoming”.

Among those marching are firefighters, teachers, first responders, and other groups, who congregated on the National Mall from 10.30am local time. At 11.30am they began walking from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.

Speeches included remarks from anti-vaccine activist Robert F Kennedy Jr, controversial doctor Robert Malone, and TV producer Del Bigtree, CEO of the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network.

Mr Kennedy’s comparison of vaccines to the Holocaust caused outrage online with the Auschwitz Memorial labelling such exploitative language as “a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay”. Mr Bigtree’s rhetoric promising a Nuremberg trial for medical professionals and the press received a similar backlash from a survivor of The Capitol Gazette attack.

The event was billed as a gathering of those who oppose vaccine mandates, vaccines for children, and other pandemic requirements and restrictions, but most of the speakers are prominently against the vaccine itself.

A permit filed with the National Park Service states that the march could attract as many as 20,000 people, but numbers were much lower than anticipated.

Follow for the latest updates...

Key points

  • RFK Jr gives conspiracy-laden speech

  • Dr Robert Malone claims vaccines may ‘damage children’

  • Focus of event on mandates, but anti-vaxx activists attending

  • Outrage over RFK Holocaust comparison

  • Photojournalist slams Bigtree tirade against media

  • What next for the anti-vaxx/mandate movement?

‘Wanted’ posters for public health officials seen on bus

Sunday 23 January 2022 17:30 , Oliver O'Connell

A Twitter user has posted a photograph of a bus emblazoned with “Wanted” posters of public health officials, Bill Gates, Jacob Rothschild, and others.

Crowd grows as program kicks off

Sunday 23 January 2022 17:35 , Oliver O'Connell

Speeches have begun, but reports from the ground suggest the crowd size is yet to reach the expected tens of thousands. One estimate puts it at approximately 3,000 people, though this may still grow further.

The unvaccinated, unmasked crowd was just encouraged to hug each other by the current speaker.

Speakers cite MLK

Sunday 23 January 2022 17:36 , Oliver O'Connell

Several speakers have now cited Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

JP Levy and Kevin Jenkins, have both referred to MLK, comparing this event and the anti-mandate movement to the civil rights movement.

“(MLK) sacrificed himself for us; are you ready to sacrifice yourself for your children?” said Jenkins.

Big cheers for anti-vaxx doctors

Sunday 23 January 2022 17:51 , Oliver O'Connell

At least three anti-vax doctor speakers have referred to current Covid policies as “crimes against humanity”, to chants of “lock them up”.

Sunday 23 January 2022 18:00 , Oliver O'Connell

“They are killing us with censorship and propaganda,” says one speaker, saying the public is being starved of information about cheap alternative Covid-19 treatments that are nothing to do with big pharma.

He does not expand on what these alleged treatments are.

Another speaker rails against not letting other people (medical professionals) decide on treatments for you and your children.

The next speaker then argues that doctors need to be allowed to be doctors.

Sunday 23 January 2022 18:02 , Oliver O'Connell

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Mixed crowd but largest right-leaning protest in a year

Sunday 23 January 2022 18:13 , Oliver O'Connell

While the crowd is a mix, the majority are right-leaning judging by the banners and flags. This would be the largest such rally since the 6 January 2021 Trump event at the Ellipse.

Vaccine mandates called ‘segregation'

Sunday 23 January 2022 18:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Justin Moyer of The Washington Post spoke with two organic farmers who came to speak out against the “segregation” of mandates. They believe they do not need injections and their bodies can regenerate.

Dr Robert Malone claims vaccines may ‘damage children’

Sunday 23 January 2022 18:39 , Oliver O'Connell

Robert Malone, the anti-vaccine doctor who shot to fame on Joe Rogan’s podcast, spoke from the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial by invoking Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech, saying that today’s antivaxx marchers are “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

“Honest words, spoken from the heart, can change the world,” he said.

“I come to you with an open heart, as a physician committed to healing, bringing three simple words...integrity, dignity, community.”

The controversial doctor, pausing to cough several times, claimed that the vaccines against Covid-19 are not working and are not keeping people safe. He then went on to say that “these genetic vaccines may damage your children”.

His central theme revolved around the sentiment that “if there is risk, there must be choice”.

“The truth is like a lion. It doesn’t need defending. Just let it loose and it will defend itself.”

‘Covid should never have been politicised’

Sunday 23 January 2022 18:50 , Oliver O'Connell

“Covid should never have been politicised” says Dr Robert Malone, surrounded by “F***Joe Biden” and “Trump 2024” and “Fascist Fauci” flags.

Crowd appears smaller than anticipated

Sunday 23 January 2022 18:59 , Oliver O'Connell

Those on the ground appear to confirm that the crowd is perhaps smaller than organisers were hoping for. USA Today’s Ella Lee posted this photo from the back.

Speakers rail against vaccine

Sunday 23 January 2022 19:20 , Oliver O'Connell

While the organisers insist the spirit of today is about being against vaccine mandates, all of the speakers have railed against the vaccine itself claiming various side effects and long-term damage, especially in children. There is no evidence to back up their claims.

Latest US Covid data

Sunday 23 January 2022 19:29 , Oliver O'Connell

For context, as of today, there have been more than 70.5 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US.

More than 865,000 Americans are officially recorded as having died from the virus.

Worldwide, there have been just under 350 million cases and 5.59 million deaths.

Joe Rogan got some of the loudest cheers

Sunday 23 January 2022 19:49 , Oliver O'Connell

RFK Jr gives conspiracy-laced speech

Sunday 23 January 2022 20:04 , Oliver O'Connell

Robert F Kennedy Jr, one of the most anticipated speakers of the day, gave a conspiracy-laced speech that ranged from questioning the testing and safety of the vaccines to calling big pharma “criminal companies” and “serial felony offenders”. He also railed against Bill Gates, satellites, and 5G technology at one point.

“Every power they take from us, they will ultimately abuse to the maximum extent possible...” he told the crowd.

“Nobody in history on the planet has ever complied their way out of totalitarian control.”

Sunday 23 January 2022 20:07 , Oliver O'Connell

Robert F Kennedy Jr speaks during the rally railing against pharmaceutical companies (REUTERS)
Robert F Kennedy Jr speaks during the rally railing against pharmaceutical companies (REUTERS)
A person holds a placard outside the Lincoln Memorial during a march in opposition to Covid-19 vaccine mandates (REUTERS)
A person holds a placard outside the Lincoln Memorial during a march in opposition to Covid-19 vaccine mandates (REUTERS)

‘Those who overthrow the constitution, we’re coming for you'

Sunday 23 January 2022 20:31 , Oliver O'Connell

Del Bigtree, the TV producer CEO of the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network, promised that “those who overthrow the constitution, we’re coming for you”.

He also claimed that he wanted to put Dr Anthony Fauci and other medical experts on trial in addition to members of the media for disseminating information about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Bigtree referred to the unmasked crowd as “superspreaders of truth” and told them to “rise up”.

Smaller crowd than expected

Sunday 23 January 2022 20:49 , Oliver O'Connell

A smaller crowd than expected arrived in Washington, DC to protest vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions.

A permit issued by the National Park Service revealed that the rally organisers thought that as many as 20,000 people would attend, but The Washington Post estimated that a group of several thousand had made it to the National Mall by Sunday afternoon.

Gustaf Kilander reports from Washington, DC.

Smaller crowd than expected protests vaccine mandates in Washington DC

Carhartt stands firm on employee vaccine mandate

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:05 , Oliver O'Connell

American workwear company Carhartt is standing by its decision to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for employees, even as critics have threatened to boycott the company.

Gino Spocchia reports.

Carhartt holds firm on employee vaccine mandate: ‘We stand behind our decision’

Rally draws to a close

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:24 , Oliver O'Connell

Shortly after Del Bigtree finished speaking, the sound system appeared to cut out.

According to an earlier announcement, power to the microphones would be cut at 3.30pm sharp, and so there was a rush to get several speakers on stage ahead of that deadline — presumably due to permitting at the site.

After 3.30pm a loudhailer was brought out in an attempt to continue, but livestreams and much of the crowd appeared unable to hear what was being said. Before the video feed ended, those at the back of the crowd began to drift away.

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:25 , Oliver O'Connell

Dr Robert Malone speaks at the 23 January Defeat the Mandates rally (REUTERS)
Dr Robert Malone speaks at the 23 January Defeat the Mandates rally (REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Bigtree threatens Fauci and journalists with Nuremberg trial

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Del Bigtree threatens Fauci, Birx, Biden, and the press with a Nuremberg trial.

He singles out the press for acting as a “propaganda machine”.

Bigtree invokes God while railing against media

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:35 , Oliver O'Connell

“Get back to your master, which is God.”

Members of Harris staff exposed to Covid

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:43 , Oliver O'Connell

An update from the White House pool report:

A White House official says: “On Friday night during the drive from the airport in Los Angeles to the hotel in Los Angeles several members of the vice president’s staff were close contacts with a member of the advance team who has since tested positive for Covid.”

“No members of the media were close contacts with this individual and the vice president was not a close contact with this individual. The staff members will not travel with the vice president on Monday.”

The vice president’s trip is still going forward but those staff members who were close contacts are not going to travel with her.

Photojournalist slams Bigtree tirade against media

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:48 , Oliver O'Connell

Photojournalist Paul Gillespie expresses his disgust at Del Bigtree’s tirade against the media.

He tweets: “Del Bigtree, I survived a murderous mass shooting in my newsroom. My head nearly taken off by a shotgun blast, missing by an inch. Five Capital Gazette family members were killed around me.

“Your thoughts/words are disgusting/inhuman. No one should have such hate in their heart.”

Outrage over RFK Holocaust comparisons

Sunday 23 January 2022 21:56 , Oliver O'Connell

Vaccine scientist Professor Peter Hotez has hit out on Twitter at Robert Kennedy Jr’s “antivaccine disinformation, aggression, dog whistles” and extremist rhetoric, specifically for comparing vaccines to the Holocaust.

Professor Hotez’s tweet received a reply from the Auschwitz Memorial: “Exploiting of the tragedy of people who suffered, were humiliated, tortured and murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany — including children like Anne Frank — in a debate about vaccines and limitations during [a] global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay.”

Senator Ron Johnson hosting Covid panel tomorrow

Sunday 23 January 2022 22:00 , Oliver O'Connell

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin will host a panel discussion tomorrow involving several of today’s speakers.

It is billed as “Covid-19: A Second Opinion” and Senator Johnson will act as moderator.

Four Pillars of Pandemic Response

  • Dr. Peter McCullough

Pillar 1: Limit the spread

  • Dr. Bret Weinstein

  • Dr. Jay Bhattacharya

Pillar 2: Early at Home Treatment

  • Dr. Ryan Cole

  • Dr. Harvey Risch

  • Dr. George Fareed

  • Dr. Pierre Kory

  • Dr. Richard Urso

Pillar 3: Hospital Treatment

  • Dr. Paul Marik

  • Dr. Aaron Kheriaty

Pillar 4: Vaccines

  • Dr. Robert Malone

  • Dr. David Wiseman

What next for the anti-vaccine/mandate movement?

Sunday 23 January 2022 22:17 , Oliver O'Connell

Ben Collins of NBC News writes: “Most people are wildly underestimating how both large and rhetorically violent this anti-vaccine movement is.

“They are a gigantic, one-issue political movement that will eventually coalesce behind one candidate and make extreme demands before 2024.”

He adds: “Buckle up.”

Time’s Vera Bergengruen writes: “A lot of people dismissing the groups here today as a bunch of online conspiracy theorists are going to get a rude awakening. The larger anti-vaccine (/“anti mandates”) wing is a growing political movement bringing together many of the anti-government threads of the past decade.”

Auschwitz Memorial hits back at RFK Jr

Sunday 23 January 2022 22:37 , Oliver O'Connell

The Auschwitz Memorial has called Robert F Kennedy Jr’s remarks comparing vaccines to the Holocaust “a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay”.

Speaking at an anti-vaxx rally in Washington DC on Sunday, the nephew of former president John F Kennedy claimed that in the future “none of us can run and none of us can hide”.

Bill Gates said his 65,000 satellites alone will be able to look at every square inch of the planet 24 hours a day. They’re putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behaviour.”

He went on to compare vaccine passports to the Nazi regime.

Bevan Hurley reports.

Auschwitz Memorial hits back at RFK Jr’s anti-vax rant

Conservative see race as factor in Covid treatment as new target

Sunday 23 January 2022 23:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Some conservatives are taking aim at policies that allow doctors to consider race as a risk factor when allocating scarce COVID-19 treatments, saying the protocols discriminate against white people.

The wave of infections brought on by the omicron variant and a shortage of treatments have focused attention on the policies.

Medical experts say the opposition is misleading. Health officials have long said there is a strong case for considering race as one of many risk factors in treatment decisions. And there is no evidence that race alone is being used to decide who gets medicine.

AP

New conservative target: Race as factor in COVID treatment

Tucker Carlson clashes with Howard Stern over Covid-19

00:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has called radio personality Howard Stern a “coward” for sharing his concerns about Covid-19.

The controversial opinion host spent part of Thursday’sTucker Carlson Tonight bashing Stern for “amplifying his fears” about the pandemic and “attacking anybody else who has decided to live life as a free person”.

Gustaf Kilander reports.

Tucker Carlson declares war on Howard Stern over Covid-19 concerns

Security was ramped up ahead of today’s march

01:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Gustaf Kilander reports on the preparations ahead of today’s peaceful march.

Security beefed up in Washington DC ahead of major anti-vaxx rally

Aaron Rodgers responds to Biden taunt

02:40 , Oliver O'Connell

NFL star Aaron Rodgers has hit out at Joe Biden after the US president said he wanted the Green Bay Packers to get vaccinated.

Mr Biden made the remark to a Packers fan as he toured an area of Kentucky devastated by tornadoes and told the fan, “Tell that quarterback he’s gotta get the vaccine.”

Rodgers, a friend of podcast host Joe Rogan, caught Covid in November after falsely implying that he had been vaccinated and claimed the NFL had a “two-class system” for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

Graeme Massie reports.

NFL star Aaron Rodgers hits out at Joe Biden over Covid-19 vaccine taunt

Auschwitz Memorial hits back at RFK Jr

03:40 , Oliver O'Connell

The Auschwitz Memorial has called Robert F Kennedy Jr’s remarks comparing vaccines to the Holocaust “a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay”.

Speaking at an anti-vaxx rally in Washington DC on Sunday, the nephew of former president John F Kennedy claimed that in the future “none of us can run and none of us can hide”.

Bill Gates said his 65,000 satellites alone will be able to look at every square inch of the planet 24 hours a day. They’re putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behaviour.”

He went on to compare vaccine passports to the Nazi regime.

Bevan Hurley reports.

Auschwitz Memorial hits back at RFK Jr’s anti-vax rant

04:30 , Oliver O'Connell

Robert F Kennedy Jr speaks during the rally railing against pharmaceutical companies (REUTERS)
Robert F Kennedy Jr speaks during the rally railing against pharmaceutical companies (REUTERS)
Dr Robert Malone speaks at the 23 January Defeat the Mandates rally (REUTERS)
Dr Robert Malone speaks at the 23 January Defeat the Mandates rally (REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
A person holds a placard outside the Lincoln Memorial during a march in opposition to Covid-19 vaccine mandates (REUTERS)
A person holds a placard outside the Lincoln Memorial during a march in opposition to Covid-19 vaccine mandates (REUTERS)

What next for the anti-vaccine/mandate movement?

05:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Ben Collins of NBC News writes: “Most people are wildly underestimating how both large and rhetorically violent this anti-vaccine movement is.

“They are a gigantic, one-issue political movement that will eventually coalesce behind one candidate and make extreme demands before 2024.”

He adds: “Buckle up.”

Time’s Vera Bergengruen writes: “A lot of people dismissing the groups here today as a bunch of online conspiracy theorists are going to get a rude awakening. The larger anti-vaccine (/“anti mandates”) wing is a growing political movement bringing together many of the anti-government threads of the past decade.”

15:54 , Harriet Sinclair

That’s all for our rolling coverage of the anti-vaxx rally in Washington. Thank you for following along.

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