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Hundreds protest in front of the State House over vaccine, mask mandates

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Hundreds protest in front of the State House over vaccine, mask mandates

Hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the State House Friday afternoon, armed with signs, American and “Thin Blue Line” flags and petitions, to protest causes including COVID-19 vaccine and masking mandates.

“I am a health care worker, and I’m losing my job in physical therapy, even though I worked through the whole pandemic,” said Mary Taylor, an attendee from New Bedford, citing both religious and medical exemptions to the mandate. “I am going to fight this tooth-and-nail along with all my other friends that are pro-choice.”

The event was organized over Facebook by an organization called The Freedom Family Endeavor which, according to its website, is a non-profit that advocates for “the civil rights of families across the U.S.,” and especially against government restrictions.

The crowd sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” several times, and yelled chants including “We will not comply!” Attendees included several members of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, student representatives from libertarian-leaning college groups, and a slew of health care workers nervous about losing their jobs over refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Another woman who attended the rally with her children who only wanted to be identified as Erica said she was there to protest because her daughter, who attends a state university, was “forced” to be vaccinated to attend, she said. The Athol resident added that she was also opposed to mask mandates for school-aged children.

Ryan McLane, the chief attorney for The Freedom Family Endeavor, said he had helped “hundreds” of people fight for religious exemptions to vaccine mandates, and added that he is currently appealing a verdict from a federal lawsuit in which a UMass Boston student was denied a religious exemption from the school’s vaccine mandate. The group’s other federal lawsuit was denied.

Gov. Charlie Baker did not respond to a request for comment on the rally.

The Herald has reached out to the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union for comment, but the union has publicly slammed the vaccine mandate for their group, along with all state executive branch employees, in the past.

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