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Anti-vaxxers tore down a mobile COVID-19 testing tent in Manhattan on Monday during a protest against New York City’s vaccine requirements for public school employees. Meanwhile, videos on social media showed some New York City firefighters fist-bumping protesters and at least one law enforcement officer enthusiastically cheering and shaking hands with a protester as the crowd went by.
Video journalists Sandi Bachom and Brendan Gutenschwager captured footage of the tent destruction, which took place in Union Square at around 4 p.m. A spokesperson from the New York Police Department told VICE News that the incident was under investigation and nobody was injured. The FDNY did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment about the fist-bumping incident.
The protest began earlier in the day outside the Department of Education building in Brooklyn. Hundreds of protesters then made their way over the bridge into Manhattan, chanting “Wake up, New York!” and “We the people will not comply.” They also heckled New Yorkers who were sitting outside restaurants eating.
The city's vaccine mandate for school employees took effect Monday. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said that as of Monday, 97% of the 78,000 full-time public school employees in New York City had been fully vaccinated.
About 43,000 vaccines had been administered since the mandate was announced in August, according to the New York Times. It’s the first citywide vaccine mandate that doesn’t give workers an option to submit to regular testing instead of getting vaccinated.
As is the case with many protests against vaccine requirements, the opposition to the mandate is coming from a small, but loud, minority. A group of teachers in New York City even made a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to block the mandate. The Supreme Court declined to hear their case.