ALBANY — John Nicholson of Clifton Park stood outside Gov. Kathy Hochul’s mansion Sunday, upset about sweeping COVID-19 vaccine mandates that he said are encroaching on he and his family’s personal freedoms.
“It’s an overreach by the government,” said Nicholson, whose family joined an estimated 150 demonstrators on Eagle Street to decry vaccine mandates for health care professionals, private employers and for participation in public school sports programs.
Some motorists honked in agreement, while others revved their engines to drown out the protesters’ message.
“I’m here for medical freedom,” said Nicholson, who refuses to get vaccinated. “Why do I need to be vaccinated for you to be safe, if you’re vaccinated? Surely, that’s not how vaccines worked in the past.”
Asked if his stance had proven to be damaging to his career, Nicholson would only say: “There’s so many different ways to make money. If they’re gonna push me out of my job over a mandate, I’ll just work off the books and have money in my pocket and the IRS won’t see my money. So it’s a choice the government makes.”
Nicholson’s fiancée, Rachel Frank, was equally worked up, stating her 10-year-old son has asthma and his condition is bothered by his school’s facemask mandate after he participates in gym.
The demonstration was headlined by conservative Congressional candidate Liz Joy of Glenville, who’s making her second bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, after she lost to him by more than 80,000 votes in 2020.
The demonstration was just hours after Joy took to social media to laud General Electric workers for staging a walkout Friday to protest the Schenectady company’s vaccine mandate.
Joy noted that some will try to spin her message, to suggest that she is against vaccinations when she is simply against vaccine mandates.
“We are anti-tyranny, anti cutting us off from our jobs,” she exclaimed.
Joy said the group had a strong message for Hochul, who is fighting a preliminary injunction in federal court against the state’s vaccine mandate for health care workers.
The recent federal ruling suspends the mandate to the extent that the state Department of Health is barred from enforcing any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccination, or that they revoke any exemptions employers already granted before the mandate was issued.
Hochul continues to stand behind the mandate.
“Our children belong to us, they do not belong to the government,” Joy said. “Our jobs belong to us. We are the one that pay the taxes. We are the one that pay the legislators. We, the people, are the ones that actually formed government; they didn’t form us.”
Although Joy didn’t cite any specific examples of a quid pro quo, she suggested that political observers follow the money for what she said was the real motivation for vaccine mandates.
“Money, power, control, coercion and kickbacks, that’s what’s happening,” she said. “That’s what we’re witnessing at every single level.”
“And when billions and billions and billions of dollars are being made, and they’re coming after you and firing you from your job,” she said. “When they’re coming after your kids and saying they can’t play sports, they can’t play football, they can’t go on the soccer team because they’re not getting a COVID-19 vaccine. When billions are being made, I promise you — I promise you — while they’re kicking us out, they’re getting kickbacks and we’re not going to put up with it.”
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.
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