Protesters gathered in front of the Taos County Courthouse on Saturday (Sept. 18) for a second demonstration against local, state and federal mask and vaccine mandates. From 3 to 4 p.m. the protesters held signs advocating for their freedom to choose and condemning what they deem as an inappropriate use of power by the government.
“The Time is Now” read a sign held by Taos resident Judy Kanthack. “I am here to let people know that they have a choice, that it's time now. What's going on in Australia can happen here just as easily as it can happen there,” she said, referencing mass anti-vaccine protests in Australian cities like Melbourne. “If we don't say no to the mandates, we may lose our freedoms too.”
Others carried signs declaring that mandates are not laws, and suggesting others ignore them. “Make America Think Again” read resident Val Morningstar’s sign. “This is beyond the masks or vaccinations,” said Morningstar. “This is about our freedoms that are being taken away. Every couple days, there's something else they're taking away.” She said she was there to encourage others to “go underneath the media, go underneath the narrative and think with your heart.”
The freedom of choice was a clear message in many signs, with some saying, “Freedom to choose,” and, “My body, My choice, no mandate.”
Taos resident Sigrid Erika said she was there to bring attention to the censorship she felt was keeping the public from getting the right information.
“There are well-informed sources that talk about the dangers of this vaccine, but they're losing their jobs and they're standing," she said. "And the people who are following what I call the company line, which is what the government is telling us, they're raking in billions of dollars."
Erika said she felt a little uncomfortable exposing her beliefs in such a public way, but felt it was important. “I'm a little afraid," she said. "I know that there's a lot of anger around this. Fear breeds anger."
Another protester who agreed to interview on the condition of anonymity said she felt information was being withheld by the government and the media. “I know doctors who have helped people get rid of COVID through alternative means, and those names are being suppressed,” she said. She also said she she felt the vaccines were too new and had heard of people getting sick after getting their shots. “There’s been too many complications that are reported,” she said, referring to the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reports System (VAERS).
Anthony Chavez, who has been actively protesting local mask and vaccine mandates in local stores carried a megaphone and sign that read “99.7 percent chance of survival, less than 1 percent chance you die once contracted.” Chavez said his message was simple, “We will not comply.”
Chavez described an experience at Smith’s several days prior in which he attempted to enter the store without a mask, and the situation quickly turned physical. “The businesses can say whatever they want to say, and try to force us out, but it doesn't matter," he said. "You know, we believe in our right to choose."
He added that he does not have a problem with others choosing to wear masks or get the vaccine, but said he does have a problem “with them telling me that I have to be vaccinated in order to provide for my family; in order for me to participate in the community. That’s ridiculous.”