POWELL — Dozens of residents gathered in Cody on Saturday to rally against the mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations proposed by President Joe Biden’s administration.
“This is all about control,” said state Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell. “They want to see how far they can go in controlling all of us. So stand strong.”
Laursen was one of three state lawmakers and several individuals who addressed the crowd of about 75 people at the State of Wyoming Veterans Memorial Park.
Sen. Tim French, R-Powell, called the upcoming federal mandate “a horrible thing,” saying it stands to put workers in the terrible situation of choosing between getting a shot they don’t want or losing their job.
French said it appears the Legislature will convene for a special session next month after more details about Biden’s plans are known.
“We will fight back,” he said.
Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, also called on attendees to get involved.
“Personal choice, not public pressure, not coercion, must be the only factor involved in getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Williams said. “It’s time to put on the armor of God. It’s time to push back against the establishment in Cheyenne and demand that the chief executive of our state be a leader and fight against this tyranny.”
Brian Schroeder, the head of the Cody Christian school Veritas Academy, warned that the mandates are only the first step toward the creation of a two-tier society, where the unvaccinated are cut out of the economy and barred from public places.
“The next logical step, of course, has to be forced vaccinations under threat of fines,
imprisonment or even the confiscation of one’s children,” Schroeder said.
In the future, he said, citizens would be under the total control of the state and federal governments, with constant contact tracing, new vaccines and “unmitigated medical tyranny affecting every other area of our lives.”
On Sept. 9, President Biden announced that he plans to order all employers with 100 or more employees to either require vaccines or show a negative test once a week, while requiring vaccinations by all nursing home, hospital and other medical facility workers and all federal employees and contractors.
Biden also called on large entertainment venues to require vaccinations or negative tests from all event attendees.
Referencing studies that show vaccinated people are significantly less likely to become infected with COVID-19 or become seriously ill, Biden called the current situation “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” and said the mandates would “combat those blocking public health.”
The president said the 80 million Americans who haven’t been vaccinated are in the minority, but are causing “a lot of damage.”
While saying the situation in America has improved overall, “we’re in a tough stretch,” Biden said, “and it could last for a while.”
As of Wednesday, the deaths of more than 678,800 people in the United States had been tied to COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden said. “It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.”
He concluded by saying, “There’s nothing — not a single thing — we’re unable to do if we do it together. So let’s stay together.”
However, Dave McMillan, who helped organize Saturday’s rally, called Biden’s remarks “the most divisive speech ever given by a president.”
“It reinforced a specific point again and again: Your fellow Americans are dangerous to you, they could kill you, your family, your friends and co-workers,” McMillan said, adding, “What type of country do we have now that wants to scare us into submission?”
He urged attendees to resist and not to comply with any mandates.
Schroeder said his son, who is serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, has been ordered to receive the vaccine, but leaders of the military branch are looking the other way.
“The upper brass of the USMC know they are facing a potential mass exodus of young men who love the corps like they love their own lives, but who will not bow,” Schroeder said. “These young warriors will take what will be called a dishonorable discharge, rather than surrender their inalienable right to choose.”
He called on Biden to drop the mandate plans, describing the decision as a “no-brainer.”
Multiple speakers said they were not anti-vaccine, but pro choice.
Still, several questioned the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, accused the media and public health officials of hiding the shots’ risks and criticized the care being provided by mainstream medical professionals.
Park County Republican Party Chairman Martin Kimmet said he’s lost good friends to COVID, “but in many ways, I think maybe the hospitalization killed them more than more than the virus did.”
Another speaker, Karen Jones, said she believes one of her family members was wrongly diagnosed with COVID-19 and then given a combination of medications (remdesivir and dexamethasone) that led to a rapid decline in health.
“Had they used a gun or a knife, this would be called a crime,” Jones said. “But because the hospital used a protocol, our government pays the hospital extra.”
She called on lawmakers to pass a resolution to let patients try whatever drugs they want — saying her family had asked for other medications — and to outlaw the protocol provided to her family member.
Boone Tidwell, a bail bondsman and former law enforcement officer who helped mount an unsuccessful legal challenge to the State of Wyoming’s public health orders last winter, suggested some of the mandates amounted to a felony crime.
“These people that are putting this on your children, in my professional opinion, are guilty of child abuse,” Tidwell said, adding, “The best thing that these mothers can do right now is call the cops and file a child abuse report and do it en masse.”
He compared the idea to symbolic letters that Republican parties in counties around the state recently sent to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., saying they would no longer recognize her as their representative.
“We’re trying to control the narrative here and we’re trying to wake people up,” Tidwell said. “They’re not alone.”