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Boston’s acting Mayor Kim Janey compares vaccine passports to slave papers and birtherism

Boston’s acting Mayor Kim Janey likened vaccine passports to the papers that newly-freed slaves had to carry around after the civil war as she dismissed the idea of implementing them in her city. 

Janey – who became the first black woman to serve as mayor in the city when her predecessor was tapped to be US Secretary of Labor earlier this year – made the comments on Tuesday after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that indoor businesses will soon have to require customers to show proof of vaccination or otherwise turn them away.  

Janey acknowledged the importance of encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 but said that requiring proof harkened back to a ‘long history in this country of people needing to show their papers’. 

‘Whether we’re talking about this from the standpoint of … during slavery, post-slavery, as recent as what our immigrant population has to go through here,’ Janey said.

She seemed to compare vaccine passports to freedom papers, documentation showing that a black person was free of bondage and allowed to travel as they please before the end of slavery in the United States.  

Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey compared vaccine passports to former President Donald ‘=Trump’s ‘birtherism nonsense’ 

Janey also compared the passports to documents 'during slavery.' Above, an 1832 pass allowed Harriet Lawson of Maryland to visit her husband Caleb at work in a nearby town

Janey also compared the passports to documents ‘during slavery.’ Above, an 1832 pass allowed Harriet Lawson of Maryland to visit her husband Caleb at work in a nearby town 

‘We heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense,’ Janey added, referencing when Donald Trump in 2012 offered $5million to charity if President Barack Obama released his college and passport applications. 

During Barack Obama's presidency, Donald Trump was a leading proponent of the 'birther' theory, at one point offering $5million to a charity of Obama's choice if the president showed his papers

During Barack Obama’s presidency, Donald Trump was a leading proponent of the ‘birther’ theory, at one point offering $5million to a charity of Obama’s choice if the president showed his papers

Janey said she wants residents to have ‘every opportunity’ to get vaccinated, but that she was concerned the passports would be ‘difficult to enforce’ for businesses and would place an undue burden on certain communities, she told WCVB.

‘Here we want to make sure we’re not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact BIPOC communities.’

On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio announced a ‘first-in-the-nation’ plan that will require customers to show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, performances and gyms starting August 16.

‘If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated. It’s time,’ de Blasio said.

During her comments on Tuesday, Janey also alluded to Arizona’s SB 1070 law, a 2010 law signed by then-Governor Jan Brewer that was widely known as the ‘show me your papers’ bill. 

On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said residents will soon need to show proof of vaccination, such as the Excelsior Pass app, to enter restaurants and gyms starting

On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said residents will soon need to show proof of vaccination, such as the Excelsior Pass app, to enter restaurants and gyms starting 

The law, parts of which were eventually struck down by the US Supreme Court, faced fierce backlash and constitutional challenges after it was accused of empowering local law enforcement to stop immigrants and ask for their documentation regardless of legal status.

‘These hurdles should not be excuses, but we must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery,’ Janey clarified in a statement later on Tuesday.

Sixty percent of Boston residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Boston Public Health Commission, and 67 percent have at least one dose of either Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson, which requires just one jab.

But Covid-19 cases are still climbing across Massachusetts.

The seven-day average is about 572 cases, up 900 percent from 64 cases on June 25, according to WHDH

Hospitalizations in the state rose over the past two weeks from 80 to nearly 200.

On Sunday, the City of Boston warned that 60 percent of new Covid cases have been in people 20 to 39 years old.

Janey’s comments drew criticism from members of Boston’s City Council. 

Janey's comments drew condemnation from members of Boston City Council

Janey’s comments drew condemnation from members of Boston City Council

‘If we want to get serious about addressing vaccine hesitancy, slowing the spread of the Delta (and subsequent) variants, and keeping our families, friends, and neighbors safe, then we need to take bold and effective action, tweeted City Council President Pro Tempore Matt O’Malley. 

‘We should be doing this in Boston.’ 

City Councilor Andrea Campbell called the mayor’s words ‘dangerous.’ 

‘Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism,’ Campbell tweeted. ‘We are too close to give ground to COVID. Science is science. It’s pretty simple – Vax up and mask up.’

‘Anyone in a position of leadership should be using that position to build trust in vaccines,’ said City Council member Michelle Wu in a statement. 

Janey rose to the mayor’s office in March, becoming Boston’s first black and first female mayor after former Mayor Marty Walsh was tapped as Secretary of Labor by President Biden. 

She was first elected to Boston City Council in November 2017.

Last weekend, thousands protested France’s special virus pass with marches through Paris and other cities. 

Most demonstrations were peaceful, but sporadic clashes with riot police marked protests in the French capital. 

French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of Aug. 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. 

The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health care workers by mid-September. 




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