Opposition to vaccine mandates and the expansion of powers by the state and federal government were a common theme expressed at a small and peaceful rally held Saturday at the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park.
Gathering at noon were representatives of conservative and patriotic groups who advocated pushing back against controversial policies that have governments mandating COVID vaccines as a condition of employment and attendance at public schools.
Republican Diego Martinez, a long-shot candidate for governor and bail bondsman from Sonora, spoke to the crowd and concerns about problems not being solved in California and Newsom’s progressive agenda. He mentioned the state’s anti-business climate, high taxes and the loss of agricultural jobs because of pro-environmental water policies. Martinez, who immigrated into the United States at age six from Uruguay, mentioned how drastic moves like calling for the end of sales of gas-powered equipment like lawnmowers and generators by the year 2024 will hurt folks in the mountain communities since they may not be able to keep warm during power outages.
Newsom has also called for the end of gas-powered vehicles being sold in California by 2035.
Debra Hunt offered assistance to any parent wishing to pull their children out of public schools because of the state COVID vaccine mandates to home school them. She is a part of the Modesto Homeschoolers Group Facebook page. Hunt also dispelled some of the rumors surrounding the homeschool movement.
“No you don’t have to be white,” said Hunt. “No, you don’t have to be rich.”
Hunt has homeschooled her children for 20 years and said “if I can do, anybody can.”
Hunt, who described herself as a conservative who disagrees with vaccine mandates, said she was a bit shocked to see members of the Echo Company of the California State Militia and the controversial Proud Boys. At least one member of the Proud Boys donned a ball cap that read “Shoot your local pedophile” and a shirt with an emblem featuring brass knuckles and a military style rifle and the words: “Proud Boys American as F---.”
“I’m not against the Proud Boys. I respect their freedom loving but the Militia is the one that was like, wait, what? Why am I in a place with the Militia?” laughed Hunt. She noted that militia members were nice and respectful and supportive.
Anyone who wants more information about homeschooling can contact Hunt at (209) 614-5119 or go through the Modesto Homeschoolers Group Facebook page.
Madalynn Baker and nurse Keryn Whitlow of Take A Stand Stanislaus also showed up for the event. Whitlow has attended a number of vaccine protest gatherings throughout Stanislaus County. Whitlow said she’s opposed to a COVID vaccination mandate “because it’s not constitutional and it is a one-size-fits-all solution for a very dynamic situation.”
She said the state must allow people to trust their own bodies and make choices.
Protest at School Board
The Saturday park event followed days after a small protest of vaccine mandates held at the Thursday evening meeting of the Ceres Unified School District Board of Trustees. Several parents voiced their desire to make choices for their children without pressure by the state to conform to vaccine requirements.
The only comment coming from the board was when CUSD Board President Betty Davis read a prepared statement: “The Board values the input of all CUSD stakeholders, and we understand that parties on both sides of this issue truly want what is in the best interest of children.
“Providing safe and effective learning environments is the board’s highest priority. We are not public health officials. Vaccine debates directed to the state level will allow local school boards to focus on the larger goals of public education. Thank you for your input this evening.”