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EXCLUSIVE — Black Lives Matter activists have turned on New York City's leadership over what they claim are racist COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Mayor Bill De Blasio has aggressively pushed a "vaccine passport" system that bars entry to restaurants, gyms, and other public places without proof of COVID-19 inoculation. But with black residents lagging the overall population in vaccinations, the rules are disproportionately affecting a minority group usually in step with Democratic policies. The schism came to a head on Monday, when Black Lives Matter of Greater New York launched a protest outside a restaurant where enforcement of the policy sparked a melee.
Hawk Newsome is a black activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York — one of the many prominent Black Lives Matter organizations outside the hierarchy of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. He founded the group with his sister, Chivona Newsome. Both siblings spoke at the Monday protest, where Hawk accused the city of using vaccination requirements to run cover for its "racist ways" and "discrimination."
Newsome spoke with the Washington Examiner about the difficulties vaccine-hesitant blacks are facing in the era of medical passports.
"We are not anti-vaxxers. Some of us are vaccinated," Newsome said of his group. "It's an individual's choice. No one should be forced to put something in their body."
The number of black residents in New York City who have not been vaccinated is drastically disproportionate to other racial groups. More than 70% of black people in New York City aged 18 to 44 have not gotten the injection — a statistic touted by Chivona at the Monday protest. There is a variety of reasons for the lag in shots, including religious beliefs and distrust of the government.
"It's black people who have a natural distrust of the vaccine," Newsome said. He cited the Tuskeegee Syphilis Study as an example of historic exploitation of black people by the U.S. medical community, despite the fact that vaccines are accessible to people of all racial groups.
BLMGNY is advocating for the complete abolition of vaccine requirements, not only in the city but also on a national level.
"I think, in a perfect world, [vaccine requirements] should be business by business. But it could be a slippery slope, so the mandate should be removed completely," Newsome said, adding, "It's not gonna be white men in suits on Wall Street who are gonna get stopped. There's such hypocrisy in this thing."
Newsome, a Baptist, said that what infuriates him the most is the lack of accommodations for an individual's spiritual objections to the vaccine.
"How dare they remove religious exemptions? It's the most disrespectful thing I've ever seen," Newsome said. "Now the government has decided your God doesn't matter? I love God."
On Thursday, three black women were taped attacking the waitress at Carmine's Italian Restaurant, after which they were arrested and charged with instigating a fight. The women allege that the waitress used racial slurs against them that provoked them, but no recording of such an altercation has been made public thus far. The owner of Carmine's, Jeffrey Bank, denied that his hostess used racist language while asking for proof of vaccination.
"Three women brutally attacked our hostess without provocation, got arrested and charged for their misconduct, and then, over the last several days, had their lawyer falsely and grossly misrepresent their acts of wanton violence in a cynical attempt to try to excuse the inexcusable," Bank said in a statement.
Regardless of Bank's explanation, protesters, including both Newsome and his sister, took to the streets against the restaurant and the city's vaccine mandates.
A Black Lives Matter protester was recorded shouting at a member of the community anti-crime group "Guardian Angels" during the protest. The unidentified man, who was wearing a black tank top and mask, repeatedly shouted "suck d***" in the face of Patrol Lead for the Guardian Angels Joshua Penner, 77WABC News reported.
BLMGNY is not new to controversial political demonstrations, and neither is Newsome.
Following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, which sparked several nationwide demonstrations and led to former police officer Derek Chauvin being convicted on murder charges, Newsome said if the United States doesn't "give [black people] what they want," they would "burn this system down," while refusing to clarify whether his statement was literal or figurative. At one point in the Fox News interview, Newsome also referred to Jesus Christ as "the most famous black radical revolutionary in history."
Newsome insisted to the Washington Examiner that his group isn't "running to the Right" in critiquing the Democratic leadership in New York.
"I'm a follower of Malcolm X," Newsome said, calling the historic black activist the greatest civil rights leader in U.S. history. "Malcolm X didn't trust the Republicans, but he also didn't trust the Democrats."
"Do we agree with the Right? No," he continued, adding that he cannot align with the GOP because he believes their platform is built around the oppression of black people. However, Newsome believes that black communities are being intentionally left out of discussions about vaccine hesitancy by left-wing politicians.
"It fits a narrative to say crazy Trumpsters are the only ones who don't want to take the vaccine," Newsome said.
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Original Author: Timothy Nerozzi