Masks, vaccination conflicts result in violence and harassment – WISH-TV | Indianapolis Information | Indiana climate
PHOENIX (AP) – The lieutenant governor of Hawaii watched in horror as protesters appeared outside his apartment, shouted at him through megaphones and flashed strobe lights into the building to harass him about the need for vaccines.
A parent in Northern California stormed into their daughter’s elementary school and slapped a teacher in the face over mask rules. At a school in Texas, a parent ripped a mask off a teacher’s face during a meet the teacher event.
A Missouri hospital director was approached in a parking garage this week by an Alabama man who handed him papers accusing him of “crimes against humanity” and it was not the only face-to-face encounter with vaccines and masks. School boards, district commissioners, doctors and local politicians are regularly confronted with angry mockery at meetings and in public, which they compare to the Taliban, Nazis, Marxists and the heads of Japanese internment camps.
Across the country, anti-vaccine and anti-mask demonstrations are taking frightening and violent turns, and educators, medical professionals and public figures have been stunned, even denigrated for their expression. And they were shocked at how far the protesters will go to confront leaders outside their homes and in their workplaces.
“The heat has definitely been turned up this week,” said Shannon Portillo, a Kansas district officer, who was verbally abused at a meeting on Wednesday the board of directors prescribed indoor masks for unvaccinated children. “It got a lot more hostile than anything I’d ever seen.”
The pandemic anger coincided with a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, a growing movement to demand vaccines, and a new round of masking requirements, especially in schools where exhausted families had hoped the virus’s worst days were over . Now the country is recording an average of nearly 1,000 coronavirus deaths per day.
Parent anger over masks simmers in rural Amador County, Northern California, and peaked earlier this month when a teacher was attacked for the first time. A father got angry when he saw his daughter come out of school wearing a mask, but teachers in a lounge were exposed. Vaccinated staff are allowed to remove their masks when students are absent, said Torie Gibson, superintendent of Amador County’s Unified School District. The father was told this and left, but later returned to speak to the director.
A concerned male teacher went to the principal’s office. There was an argument and the father beat the teacher.
“The teacher had some cuts and bruises on his face and a lump on the back of his head,” Gibson said.
He was treated in a hospital and returned to work the next day. Still, the incident shocked teachers and the community.
“The teachers were definitely nervous. They’re scared because the last thing they want is a parenting problem, ”Gibson said. “You’ve definitely looked over your shoulder for a few days, but I think it’s a little quieter now.”
Meanwhile, the father is not allowed to enter the school and could be prosecuted.
Since Hawaii announced a mandate earlier this month for state and county employees to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly tests, 50 to 100 unmasked anti-vaccination campaigners have gathered outside the condo building in downtown Honolulu nearly every night where Lt . Gov. Josh Green lives with his wife and two children, ages 14 and 10.
Some are shouting into megaphones and shining flashlights into the residential units, Green said. Flyers with his photo and the words “Jew” and “Fraud” were pasted up in the neighborhood. Green, who is Jewish, tore it down and turned it over to the Attorney General.
He understands the right to protest, but doesn’t understand why protesters make passers-by so angry.
“You should protest against me at my place of work where I am the lieutenant governor,” said Green. “But it’s different than flashing a flashlight in a 90-year-old woman’s home or flashing a flashlight in a family’s home with two children under the age of 4.”
Ironically, Green was away from home during an intense weekend of protest. He’s been to the Big Island, working on his other job as an ambulance, treating mostly COVID-19 patients during a record spike in coronavirus hospital stays in the state.
“I will personally take care of these people in the hospital as their doctor if they become ill due to refusal to wear masks and vaccinate,” he said.
In Kansas, Douglas County, Lawrence area police commissioners faced an angry, mostly exposed crowd on Wednesday before making public masks indoors mandatory for 2- to 12-year-olds who are too young to be vaccinated. During four hours of public commentary, opponents cited the Holocaust, the Taliban and Japanese internment camps.
As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, Portillo was outraged by the comparisons.
“It’s really offensive to families everywhere who have lost loved ones to genocide,” she said.
Researchers, professors and policy experts have different opinions on how and why the pandemic discourse seems to keep plummeting to new lows, but many agree that social media is an important factor.
Barbara Rosenwein, professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago and author of Anger: The Conflicted History of an Emotion, said that social media can make minority views look more like the majority. On the many social media platforms, people affirm that each other’s anger comes from a just and righteous place.
“Over time, the ability to feel genuine anger has been democratised. Everyone almost feels obliged to feel it, ”said Rosenwein. “That locks you in a no-compromise position, which is terrible for our country.”
This anger also makes it seem okay to stand up to authorities like teachers and governments in a time of intensified cultural wars over issues like education. Getting punished or even arrested could feel like “a mark of courage,” she said.
“I don’t think these people run into old people’s homes and tell Grandma not to get vaccinated,” said Rosenwein. “I think they tell the school teachers because the teachers are an elite who teach their children.”
Rosenwein said there isn’t a great, universal solution to talking to a friend or family member who may be adopting an extreme anti-mask and anti-vaccine stance.
“You have to start where they are … ‘Let’s hear your reasons and try to move on from there,'” said Rosenwein.
Dr. Cadey Harrel, who practices family medicine in Tucson, Ariz., Was among four health care workers who testified at a meeting of the local school mask requirement earlier this month. She recently moved her children out of that school district because of the problem, but still felt compelled to speak. An anti-mask group of four or five followed them out of the building after the meeting.
“They started saying things like we were paid actors, we got paid to be there, that masks didn’t work,” said Harrel. “You kicked us right in the face.”
Harrel was unnerved, but felt better after a couple of teachers thanked him for the interview. And that motivated her to continue to testify at public gatherings to give a voice to science and reason amid the outrage of anti-mask and vaccine opponents.
“The thing is, someone has to say something,” she said.
Kelleher reported from Honolulu, Tang from Phoenix and Rodriguez from San Francisco. The Associated Press Writer Heather Hollingsworth carried out Mission, Kan.