Anti-vaccine and conspiracy activists tied to Lansing coronavirus protests

Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, has emerged as a central figure in COVID-19 conspiracy theories after vowing to use his philanthropic foundation to fight the virus and help fund the race for an effective vaccine. This protester was at the April 30 anti-quarantine demonstration in Lansing. (Bridge file photo by Jonathan Oosting)

LANSING—Anti-vaccination activists — already warring against government mandates — have emerged as key players in the battle against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order designed to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Several organizers with Michigan United for Liberty, the group that hosted an April 30 protest at the Michigan Capitol and is planning another Thursday, have deep ties to the “anti-vaxx” and “medical freedom” movement, according to a review of online activity and public records by Bridge Magazine. 

Some have used social media to promote conspiracy theories about the pandemic and to discourage the kind of widespread testing, contact tracing and vaccine development that medical experts say is critical to defeating the virus and reopening the economy.

 

Their role in the Michigan anti-quarantine movement comes at a precarious time for both the state and for children’s health. 

New state data show childhood immunization rates have plummeted in Michigan as the pandemic has led to physician office closures and sparked parental fears over taking kids out in public. Public health officials say that leaves children more susceptible to outbreaks of established, preventable diseases like measles or whooping cough. 

It’s not surprising to see anti-vaccination activists take a prominent role in protesting Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, said Mark Navin, an associate professor of bioethics at Oakland University. It’s happened in California and a handful of other states, too. 

The movements are motivated by “some of the same values: distrust of the government, and especially government claims about the harms of disease and the benefits of vaccines and other government interventions to prevent disease,” Navin said. 

Anti-vaccination activists are “committed to an idea about freedom that is indifferent largely to the risks one’s free choices impose on other people,” he said. “I’m critical of them, but to be fair, they’re giving voice to a conception of freedom that’s widely held.”

Some of their specific theories, however, live farther on the fringe. 

Michigan United for Liberty organizer Alex Larner, who is identified on the group’s website as secretary of the Eaton County Tea Party and an IT director for a Lansing church, has used his personal Facebook page to share conspiracy videos claiming to expose the “fake science behind the fear mongering of the WuFlu.”

“The end goal of the WuFlu pandemic is mandatory vaccines,” Larner wrote May 9. In other posts, he has suggested America is “heading into Nazi Germany territory” and argued “Dictator wHitler needs to be tried for treason and sedition.”

Another protest organizer, Amber Bargabus of Mount Morris, identifies herself as co-founder of Michigan Freedom Keepers, a group that has openly discouraged residents from getting a COVID-19 vaccine if and when one becomes available.

“We have all heard the talk about how life ‘won't be back to normal until there is a vaccine,’” Freedom Keepers said on Facebook. “Are you willing to subject yourself and your children to be guinea pigs for a fast tracked vaccine with minimal safety testing?!”

Scientists across the world are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, a highly infectious disease that had killed 4,714 people in Michigan as of Wednesday morning. Pfizer Inc. last week announced it had begun clinical trials on a vaccine candidate that would initially be produced at facilities in Michigan and two other states.

Those clinical trials will prove if a potential vaccine is safe and effective, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would have to sign off before making any version publicly available, said Bob Swanson, division of immunization director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

“And so we really should trust the science,” he said.

Health experts say vaccine development could easily stretch into 2021. 

“If everything went well with the clinical trials, we would see a vaccine maybe even by the end of the year, but in limited quantities,” Swanson said. 

The state would first distribute the vaccine to at-risk residents like front-line health care workers, and “over the next year we would see more vaccines available in the market, as well as production going up for the vaccines that are viable,” he said.

Michigan United for Liberty

Michigan United for Liberty did not respond to multiple interview requests from Bridge Magazine, which sent emails to the group and filled out an online “contact us” form on its website. But online documents suggest at least six of the group’s nine main organizers have ties to the anti-vaccination movement. 

Jennifer Darling, who founded Michigan United for Liberty, was identified as a leader of Ann Arbor for Medical Freedom in a Feb. 3 letter to President Trump urging the White House to “prevent and remedy the persecution of people who choose to honor their faith by refusing or foregoing some or all vaccinations.”

Organizer Ashley Phibbs of Metro Detroit has used her Facebook page to suggest a broad “agenda” behind the pandemic. She has urged people to “NOT GET TESTED OR GIVE NAMES” because “corona cops” could remove children from parents, a claim based on a link Facebook flagged as “false information” originating from a voluntary contact tracing program in Ventura County, California. 

Protest organizer Erica Pettinaro is a lead organizer for Informed Choice of Michigan, a group that opposes vaccine mandates and is planning its own rally at the state Capitol this summer. Organizer Allison Claire describes herself as a mom, military spouse, domestic violence victim advocate and a “devoted activist for medical freedom,” a phrase commonly used by activists opposed to government vaccination mandates.

Larner, one of the Michigan protest organizers, also has shared on Facebook what he called “extremely insightful” videos purporting to expose “Bill Gates’ role in this plandemic.”

Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, has emerged as a central figure in COVID-19 conspiracy theories after vowing to use his philanthropic foundation to fight the virus and help fund the race for an effective vaccine. 

“Humankind has never had a more urgent task than creating broad immunity for coronavirus,” Gates said in an April 30 essay. 

“Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible.”

But conspiracy theorists claim Gates is part of a global effort to hype up the coronavirus pandemic to promote the use of vaccines for profit.  

During the April 30 protest at the Michigan Capitol organized by Michigan United For Liberty, one fully masked demonstrator held up a “plandemic” sign naming Gates while proclaiming “No mandated vaccines. No tracking chips. We do not consent.”

“Plandemic” is also the name of a discredited documentary recently removed from Facebook, YouTube and other websites because of inaccuracies. 

Karl House of Fraser, who carried a long gun but no face mask at that protest, told Bridge he thinks the coronavirus pandemic is “an attempt to put fear back into the people so everyone can go get Bill Gates’ sterilization vaccines and he can make billions of dollars.”

Gates does not profit off his foundation’s spending on vaccines, said Navin, the bioethics professor. He rejected the conspiracy theories but said they may point to broader frustrations over the need for private philanthropists to act where government institutions have not. 

“He’s obviously not part of a worldwide conspiracy to kill people off with vaccines or with COVID-19 or something,” Navin said of Gates. “But he’s not accountable, and he’s doing things that matter for all our lives, and that’s a failure of our institutions.”

Childhood immunizations plummet

Michigan vaccination rates have increased in recent years since the state began making it more difficult for parents of school-age children to opt out of school vaccine requirements. Parents are now required to attend educational sessions if they want to delay or decline immunizations.

But immunization rates are not as high as public health officials would like — and they’ve fallen off steeply this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Michigan orders for non-influenza vaccines plunged by 78 percent from April 1 through 23, compared to the same period in 2019, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Experts theorize the decline is a result of temporary medical office closures, compliance with the governor's stay-at-home order, parental fear over taking their kids to doctors’ offices during the pandemic and other factors. 

The number of non-influenza vaccine “doses” given to Michigan children 24 months and younger is down about 16 percent so far in 2020, and doses are down about 28 percent for adolescents between 9 and 18, according to the health department. 

“It’s pretty scary to us, because not only are we seeing our doses down, we’re seeing our immunization rates drop,” said Swanson, immunization director at MDHHS.  

Fewer vaccinations could make it harder for the state to fight future outbreaks of measles or whooping cough that have popped up in recent years, he told Bridge.

“To me, that’s a huge concern,” Swanson said. “If kids — and adults — are not staying on schedule, that makes them vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. In my view, the last thing we need right now is another disease that we have to start to combat.”

Ann Arbor pediatrician Scott Moore said he’s seen vaccines in infants and children tumble by more than a third in his practice during March and April, from 306 for that period in 2019 to 193 in 2020.

Moore said parents of these children are not “anti-vaxxers” ─ philosophically opposed to vaccines.

“It’s fear of COVID-19,” he said. “They are afraid to go into a physician’s office and getting exposed to the virus. In their eyes, they want to wait a month or two until this dies down.”

But if parents continue to put off vaccinations, Moore said he’s concerned that could spark another outbreak of measles in Michigan.

“It’s far more contagious than COVID,” he said.

In Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health outpatient pediatrician Kara Willoughby echoed that fear. She noted that the measles vaccine is given to infants at age 1.

“If you think about how many children who turned one in the last two months and haven’t gotten a vaccination, that’s a big chunk of the population. That number is only going to rise.”

As new COVID-19 case counts decline in Michigan, the state health department is preparing materials that will be sent to physicians recommending ways to re-engage with parents of children who may have missed scheduled immunizations. 

“Obviously a lot of parents did want to stay home during this time, when they were afraid they didn’t want to put their children at risk by taking them to a physician’s office,” Swanson said. 

In 2014, Michigan had the sixth-highest rate of unvaccinated kindergartners in the nation. An outbreak of whooping cough at a Traverse City charter school late that year spawned more than 150 suspected cases. It appeared to be tied to parents wary of vaccinations, as 17 percent of Grand Traverse Academy kindergartners had parents who signed waivers exempting their children from immunizations.

State law at that time required parents to immunize school-age kids against communicable diseases such as measles, whooping cough, mumps and tetanus — unless they received a waiver that allowed them to opt out for medical, religious or “philosophical” reasons. 

Michigan remains one of 16 states that still allows philosophical waivers.

To reduce the number of waivers, MDHHS in 2015 mandated that parents who want to opt out for non-medical reasons must sit down with a local health worker for an educational session on vaccine-preventable diseases before obtaining a waiver.

In the first year after that rule was enacted, MDHHS reported the number of statewide waivers dropped by 35 percent. But while the waiver rate dropped to 3.1 percent in 2015, it crept back up to 3.8 percent by 2018.

In 2019, Michigan saw its largest outbreak of measles since 1991 as Oakland County had 40 of 44 confirmed cases of the disease.

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Comments

Kevin Grand
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:01pm

And all of this means exactly what?

Mr. Oosting?

Mr.Roelofs?

Hello? Is this thing on?

Normal person
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:59am

It's called reporting the news.

Wondering
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:05am

You post about hating tyrants, but you want the reporters to tell you what the news means? You should learn about critical thinking, instead of following what someone tells you to think, parroting GOP talking points. Oh and Bridge, you could help for Kevin by reporting on critical thinking efforts in our schools.

In the meantime, Kevin, here's an opinion piece from the Freep that you may find helpful:
https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2020/05/12/plandemic-mi...

Kevin Grand
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 8:19pm

Let me make my point a little clearer since your reading skills are obviously lacking; How is this germane to WHY people are even protesting in the first place?

Attempting to belittle protestors overall by focusing on one segment of the group only ignores the above question.

Bobby Joe
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:10pm

What a crazy world- anti-vaxxers are fighting with a Governor who caused one of the most stunning and dramatic decreases in vaccinations for children ever in Michigan's history. Governor Whitmer issued orders which led to a reduction in cancer screenings, vaccinations, and preventive medicine- the very thing that these conspiracy theorists want! That's a conspiracy theory right there- they want destruction, yet the form of the destructor is Governor Whitmer, whom they oppose!

Truth
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:51pm

The "movement" has officially petered out spreading germs along the way in the rain. Look at this "protest", some saying about 150 people in a state of about 10 million:

https://www.facebook.com/13ONYOURSIDE/videos/3051547134888586/

We used to get more seniors in attendance at our weekly bingo. Stay safe seniors, we love you!

confused
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:22pm

Remember when Trump was for vaccines before he was against them after-which he was for them? Anyone know his position now?

Reopen asylums
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:29pm

The "medical freedom" anti-regulation nuts think like our stable genius president who truly believes he knows everything better than the experts in their fields who study things, get certified, submit research with quantifiable data for peer review, etc. The lunatic midwife who organized the "Judgment Day" tomorrow had a following of just a few people and is just organizing to get publicity for her home birthing business.

MD
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:35pm

Funny how I and all the MD's I know, get all the recommended vaccines and get them for everyone in our families. What do the conspiracy theorists know that we don't????

Areyoukiddingme
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 9:09am

How much money do you get from pharma companies every year? You are the problem like many others who refuse to look objectively at health. I have 3 degrees and 19 certs in a wide range of professions. I consider myself an educated person, but I have learned to look at all arguements or positions and that is where you find truth.

Revere
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:34pm

What the heck are you talking about?
With a vaccine, the flu still kills a hundred kids in a season.
Without a vaccine, coronavirus has killed, what, 6?
Funny that you mention critical thinking skills but make statements that indicate you have none.

Funny Reality
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:53pm

Even if the governor or the "state" does not require vaccines for work, EMPLOYERS, as private citizens, will force you to get vaccinated because otherwise they will be exposed to all kinds of liability and high insurance premiums. These protests are interesting to see how these unhinged people in our society think, but their anger is completely misplaced. They don't understand the virus they may carry is like a really smelly fart that no one else wants to breathe, some may even be "silent but deadly" filled with toxicity. If they could only keep their gas to themselves, we'd all be fine, but they're going around the and inside the capitol letting loose. These are metaphors for the virus. Now all you all know you shouldn't fart in church, but you do it anyway. Please just do it in a bathroom, unless it's an accident. Don't just go all around next to people and let loose at will. Your expression of freedom, in the form or farting, curtails my freedom to do what I want when I find myself in a fog of your noxious flatulence. I mean do you fart when you visit your grandma? If so, you are nasty.

Just sayin'
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:13am

Remember loss of smell is a symptom of COVID19, so maybe they just think their farts don't stink.

Herd thinning
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 9:55pm

"Public health officials say that leaves children more susceptible to outbreaks of established, preventable diseases like measles or whooping cough." I got whooping cough as an adult a few years back, thought I was going to die. Thank God I was vaccinated otherwise I would have probably died like in the olden days.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:05am

Thank God you got vaccinated when you could. Under the Governor's orders, vaccination rates have fallen drastically for a range of preventive diseases like the one you described- the death rate from her dictates may well end up being higher than any 'potential' saved.

21st Century Calling
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 10:10pm

"The state would first distribute the vaccine to at-risk residents like front-line health care workers, and 'over the next year we would see more vaccines available in the market, as well as production going up for the vaccines that are viable,' he said."

Yes, that's how it works, healthcare workers are the usually the first to get the vaccines and they are the ones who trust them them most. Otherwise they would not go into the field.

It's the sore dropouts who become midwives who promote their witch doctor theories based on voodoo medicine. Yeah, a century ago most Americans had babies at home and the babies were not vaccinated. They also died, mothers and babies, during childbirth at much higher numbers then than today.

GOP Wacky
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 10:14pm

"Karl House of Fraser, who carried a long gun but no face mask at that protest, told Bridge he thinks the coronavirus pandemic is 'an attempt to put fear back into the people so everyone can go get Bill Gates’ sterilization vaccines and he can make billions of dollars.'”

My conservative "friends" are the only people I know who talk about "sterilization" and it usually involves people on welfare who have a child or prisoners. One even used to argue with me about how we should harvest the organs of convicted murderers

Alex Larner
Wed, 05/13/2020 - 10:33pm

Here's the full links to the videos that in my Facebook post that they quoted in the article:

Bill Gates, Fauci, Birx, IA2030, Medical Deep State, Eugenics, ID2020, Event 201 & Johns Hopkins
http://www.worldviewweekend.com/tv/video/bill-gates-fauci-birx-ia2030-me...

Bill Gates, Rockefellers, UN Agenda 2030 & Eugenics Masquerading as Science & Population Control
http://www.worldviewweekend.com/tv/video/bill-gates-rockefellers-un-agen...

Bill Gates, Pope Francis and Their United Nations Population Control Agenda With Eugenics Roots
http://www.worldviewweekend.com/tv/video/bill-gates-pope-francis-and-the...

Plot twist
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:52am

If Fauci and Birx are behind this, why are they working for Trump? Trump IS the DEEP STATE.

Bobby Joe
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 1:36pm

Dr. Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984. I don't think he is "working for Trump" or "working for Obama" or any of those- he appears to be a long-time creature of the Deep State who has lived off a government paycheck for most of his life. It looks like Trump named him to his task force because he was the director of the NIAID, which seems to be an understandable and reasonable thing to do.

Dr. Birx has been the United States Global AIDS Coordinator for Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump since 2014. Birx served as the director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Global HIV/AIDS from 2005 to 2014. She also seems to be a long-time bureaucrat who has worked with both Republicans and Democrats in various bureaucratic positions. So again, not 'working for Trump', but rather someone the President put on his task force because of their expertise.

Dang
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 4:51pm

Hey Alex, why is that? Is there a conspiracy within the conspiracy? Any ideas? Is Trump behind all of this? What was he doing with the Saudi's and the magic orb? Wasn't that creepy? Then the Saudi Prince had Khashoggi chopped up, very suspicious. Was that a warning to those of us who know about Fauci, Birx, and Gates, not to mention Pope Francis?

Altruism
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:57am

So it's so suspicious that Bill and Melinda Gates care about others, instead of just being content to buy an island and living there? Ayn Rand Derangement Syndrome is a mental disorder almost as big as Trump Derangement Syndrome, sociopathic love of all things Trump. The symptoms usually present at the same time.

Revere
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:34am

We will not be vaccinated.
We will travel and assemble freely and peacefully and will not be stopped.
If you have a problem with this, then you will have to kill us; The only way you're getting a vaccine in me or a mask on me is in or on my dead body.
If you communist nut jobs want to force these things on The People, you had better be ready to kill millions of younger, healthy patriots in order to "save" a small number of sick elderly/obese who are at high risk of dying from any virus.
It saddens me to see stasi and stasi sympathizers pushing us so rapidly towards a war. It isn't necessary. All you people need to do is read and understand the constitution and its amendments - We will gladly and readily die for the liberties guaranteed by these documents.
Before you go calling me some wacko extremist, ask yourself - Were the men and women who gave their lives for your freedom to think your way also wacko extremists? Your logic is broken and this coronavirus hoax and the real goals behind it disgust me. So sad.

Jeff
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:11am

This is satire, right? I mean you're cleverly mocking some of those anti-vax yahoos who equate public health with Communism. Very well done, it almost looked real.

Vax ≠ Commie
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:00pm

I find it funny that he's afraid of a little shot, but ready to kill someone with a gun. What a macho guy, all hat no horse!

Calm down
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:18am

You're having a meltdown. If you hate elderly people, think of the children.

Doby Joe
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 8:58pm

I don't follow... if you hate elderly people, think of the children? I don't understand how thinking of the children will prevent hating elderly people. For that matter, I don't ever recall ever reading anyone saying anything about hating elderly people. Do you often think about children? Or maybe you just think like a child?

You do know that you're such a moron that your statement about "thinking of the children" actually has a wikipedia page mocking its use and you for using it? Here it is-
"Think of the children" (also "What about the children?") is a cliché that evolved into a rhetorical tactic. In debate, however, it is a plea for pity that is used as an appeal to emotion, and therefore it becomes a logical fallacy. The appeal substitutes emotion for reason in debate. Classifying children in an infantile manner, as innocents in need of protection, is a form of obsession over the concept of purity. A 2011 article in the Journal for Cultural Research observed that the phrase grew out of a moral panic.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:19am

That's why you can't work in the medical field.

Gary
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:35am

Revere apparently is not old enough, as I am, to remember the ravages of polio and then its elimination in this country because of the creation of a vaccine.

Kathi Geukes
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:47am

What's sad is that you think of yourself as a "Constitutional Idealist"...when in fact all you are is someone with extreme values that will get you and your kids killed!! Getting vaccinated is a right we have and you can't take that away...but I would caution you to keep your children away from other kids...because if you don't and one of their friends gets the measles.....they will die!! and you will have murdered them!! By being so selfish and ignorant!!

Measles are bad
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:05pm

Sadly, you are right because it's now fashionable to be a brainwashed antivaxer. People all of a sudden are dying from diseases we almost completely eradicated.

Areyoukiddingme
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 9:28am

Can you provide the date of the last measels death in the US? Sounds like you are making a joke however because children do not doe from measles which I'm sure you are aware of.

Diane Hallinen, MD
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:56am

It is unlikely a vaccine will be mandatory for adults or home schooled children. If you have an employer, they may require it. Your comments about not wearing a mask are disturbing. Not wearing a mask in a public building is selfish. You are putting your comfort before the safety of people not as young or thin as you. You essentially are dehumanizing people you think are not worthy of protection. Healthcare workers need to organize to strike if society is persuaded by scientifically illiterate, death cult Team Corona individuals.

Sandy Hill
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 4:47pm

Myself, I am an essential worker, so I can't catch the virus. I'm better than the rest of you who are measly hair dressers and appliance salesmen- I have a degree. And with that degree I become An Expert. My opinion therefore must not be questioned or disputed, for the degree I have bought confers on me moral superiority to you stupid non-essentials. You non-essentials exist to provide me with tax money so that I (as the symbol of the state) can make the world a better place. The minute I say I am a 'healthcare worker', you must all bow to my demands and give me your property, liberty, and lives if necessary. That's what the constitution is supposed to say, at least, and I hope that the courts soon rule that this is so.

Bless you
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:15pm

Dr Hallinen. I wonder if many of these protesters are just working poor who are too proud to admit they can't afford a vaccination and healthcare costs for their families. They may think a mask is a luxury. That's not how I think, but I'm just wondering how they don't see that we need affordable healthcare and that masks can be made from household items, old clothes. They should be protesting for free vaccinations. BTW thank you for your service. I know firsthand how dangerous your job can be.

Maria Gershanwin
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:39pm

What I love about this virus is that the mask is coming off some people. Some people- like "Bless You"- think that they are so much better than the rest of you. They think that they are better than everyone else because they have a degree, or because they are considered 'essential,' or because they have tithed the proper amount at the alter of government by giving up certain things. They look down and sneer at others, calling them names and poor and dumb, as if they are really any better. 'Bless you' doesn't talk to any of these people, doesn't know any of these people, doesn't understand what these people are about- but still thinks that they are better than these people. The mask certainly comes off these little wanna-be-dictators, doesn't it- they don't respect or care about you, and I think it's about time to treat them the same way.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 7:44am

What is wrong with medical choice if the recipient would be injured by said vaccine. Anyone that refuses a flue shot is exercising medical choice, I may point out....so....

So sorry 4 U
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:07pm

That's what we call a low IQ voter.

Marshall
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 8:27am

Wow, another attempt to marginalize protesters in order to dismiss the real issues. There are some kooks in every crowd. The thousands that have so far shown up are not there to protest vaccinations. They reject authoritarian orders, carrying force of law, made by a single individual. They reject a Governor who claims unlimited and unending right to make such orders. Try some real journalism. You might like it.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:19am

100% spot on. I'm so glad there are some clear thinkers left in the world.

Marshall nails it!
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:27am

We see by the comments of people on this very site: "You can always pay one half of the poor to kill the other half."

(Not that I am even convinced 60% of the people posting here aren't paid trolls, but) the willingness of people to give away their liberty to tyrants in exchange for "Free Stuff!" is sickening! Oosting isn't capable of real journalism. Unfortunately, the "press" and their ilk are nothing more than the Praetorian guard of the far-left.

Don't shoot mes...
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:20pm

Do you know the difference between a news article and an editorial? My guess is no because you watch FUX News where there is no difference and it is ALL entertainment, not journalism. All you constitutionalists seem so forget Freedom of the Press to report the news. You all have your panties in a bunch because you don't like the news and don't want anyone to cover it.

Nice try
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:04pm

Since you’re learning the progressive trick of ‘projection,’ I’ll make it simple for you: couldn’t even tell you what channel FOX news is on. They’re mostly left leaning loons like you. However, based on your grade-school attempt at a “gotcha,” we all see that you glue your glazed-over orbs to CNN. Maybe MSDNC for a little extra hatred?

What’s the next chapter in Alinsky’s playbook? Wish for my death? Call me rrrracist? Yawn.

Sigh
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:24am

Then you should organize better. Birds of a feather flock together. Some birds flock just to flock. LOL What is real journalism? This article is reporting the facts. There are many people showing up to the protest with different views, but this article explores who are the people behind organizing the rally today.

Jackie
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:36am

FINALLY! A sensible comment from an informed, intelligent, reasonable person! Thank you, Marshall. It is a shame when the crazies on either fringe take over what should be a peaceful gathering aimed at simply voicing a reasonable topic for discussion and reconsideration.

Subee
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:37am

No one is forced to take a vaccine . Revere, it is unhinged thinking like the kind that you display that make these protest scary because we are wasting time and money protecting the pubic from your protests in Lansing. You are scaring even the Republicans. Once a person has been brainwashed by other unhinged thought processes it is difficult to leave the cult. Please try to become an anto-didact and read the hard stuff.

Sandy
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:09am

Very much agree. I do not necessarily agree about not being vaccinated however DONT TREAD ON ME was not just for war it is about our freedom of choice and what the constitution is about which a lot of our politicians have forgotten in their GREED.

The End Is Nigh!
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:37pm

They are kooks!
All of them.
Reminds me of an uncle that lives in a cave in Montana somewhere.
They have a right to be kooky though... so kook on my kookie friends.

Marshall
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 1:50pm

Really shouldn't paint with such a broad brush. Lots of the protesters are just working folks who are unhappy with how they are being treated. I don't blame them. I'd probably be there, too, but I have to work today. "Essential", you know.

Bobby Joe
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 12:39am

Good points.

Oosting PLEASE
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 9:01am

I'll sum up every article by TDS Johnny. "ORANGE MAN BAD."

Fixed it for you

Fix this
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:33pm

Orange man is bad, but your comments are not pertinent the article. We will take care to vote orange man out in November. BTW they say 50% of the tests being done in the White House are defective, but I guess that's one of those things you like about orange man. He has the spray tan AND he's mellow, on island time with handling the pandemic.

JLB
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:00am

Land of the FREE and home of the brave...? The protest isn't about vaccines, it's about freedom. We the people are responsible for the consequences of our own choices. If individuals put themselves at risk by breaking quarantine, that's their problem. If individuals stay home to protect themselves, that's their prerogative. USA is (was?) a free country.

Anonymous
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:36pm

Stand your ground means, you can't threaten me and my with your disease. So mask up and socially distance yourself or I may feel threatened. Your freedom ENDS where my freedom STARTS.

Dex
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:37am

This is very left-wing leaning article. I thought this publication was non-partisan?

Marie
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:47am

No protester who wears a mask to hide their identity (not referring to a surgical mask) deserves to be taken seriously. period! If you have something productive to say, carry your sign but be adult enough to show your face and give public voice to your honest opinions. Otherwise you are just another possibly violent loser, nut job that no one respects.

Rick Raisen
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:43pm

Marie, just to clarify- if they wear a mask they are bad, and if they don't wear a mask they are bad, and if they don't show up they are bad?

Myself, when I go to protests now I always wear masks. You can go to a protest wearing a pink pussy hat and be marking mad crazy encouraging more abortions and there will be on consequences. But show up at any of these rallies, and some evil sneaky f*&er will take your picture and then try to destroy your life. They'll contact your employer and make up lies, they'll destroy your property, they'll attack you on social media, the IRS and FBI will come after you, and you'll get threats. It happens all the time.

I wonder how long the violent, lying, communist, evil, godless left-wing can take away rights, liberties, property, and lives before people start fighting back. A civil war is brewing- you reap what you sow.

Brian Rice
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:09am

Seems the governor and her policies have stopped more immunizations than this splinter group could ever hope for on their own.

Poetic Justice
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 11:49am

Pouring rain today.

Freudian slip?
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:07pm

Keenan Smith on XWYZ was just reporting about the protest and had to correct himself. He said, "the clowns, I mean crowds." LOL I know it was a mistake, but that's how I feel. Thanks for the smile!

Anonymous
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 10:44am

That is a great example of the sort of bias that is present in the media! I wonder- did you mean to type WXYZ, the Disney owned media outlet that is heavily influenced by the Chinese government?

Ironic
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:10pm

At least these clueless fools had to stay umbrella distance apart! LMAO

Agnosticrat 2.0
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:21pm

Already fist fights on the Capital steps today.
More violence oriented protests supposed to show the public that the protesters have your better interests at heart.
These people are nothing more than rabble rousers and thugs looking for a fight..and it doesn’t matter who they fight. They will even fight each other.

Denis
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 12:51pm

Thank you for a nice summary. We should remember that these protests are very small and it’s only a subset of the protesters who are any-Vaxxers. These fringe elements, while free to protest, are in the distinct minority. As echoed below by “MD”, as a toxicologist with over 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry, I am well aware of the science, and have encouraged my children and grandchildren receive prompt immunizations. In my opinion, vaccinations are the most important tool a physician has to combat infections.

Concerned
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 3:17pm

I wish this piece would have provided a more balanced perspective. Vaccine choice is already a very inflammatory topic across the country and in Michigan. Many of us myself included support vaccine choice for ourselves and our children. We are not anti-science or anti-government. We are educated and take the time to weigh the data and the risks of making a choice not to vaccinate. We want to maintain the freedom to make those choices based on our individual medical situation in consultation with our doctor.

Freedom First.
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 4:10pm

While I personally believe in getting vaccinated against diseases, I also believe people should have the right to refuse to get vaccinated if they do choose. We cannot take freedom lightly.

Free the Press
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:27pm

I like Off the Record and must say other than Bill Ballenger and perhaps Tim Skubick, I have a very difficult time knowing what the political views are of the other pundits, they tend to just report the facts and analyze the politics for political junkies like me. That said, I enjoy hearing all of their views and institutional wisdom. On a sad note, their guests usually look like weasels afraid to give answers.

Denis
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 10:38am

To me, it seems some of our fellow citizens confuse "freedom" as in "liberty" with the right to do whatever they want. Our lives are filled with with many collective behaviors that are enforceable:
1. Drive on the right side of the road
2. Stop at stop signs
3. Not cry fire in a crowded theater
4. Pay taxes. and etc , etc
Of course, you are free to disobey these rules as a person with free will. However, not obeying these can often result in injury to yourself or others (no matter how "well informed" you are). In this instance we are discussing "stay at home" and vaccines. It doesn't surprise me that the same people might oppose both, partially due to a certain desire to do "whatever I want". The potential problem with that decision (as with some of the others) is that your willingness to ignore these guidelines potentially has the far reaching impact of injury to others. While I support the scientific and political debate, I encourage us to do so in a selfless way.

LkOrion
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 10:44am

Is this the product of the DeVos private educational system....advancing Christs kingdom by abolishing public schools and replacing with Christian private voucher schools? Big money funding of radicalization, militarization, zealotry, tyranny and hate....hey Michigan it's working. I especially appreciate the Confederate flag display in a Union state. When questioned, the male carrier seemed confused it had any relation to a war.