Hundreds of people gathered for a "Freedom Rally" at the Oklahoma state Capitol on Saturday afternoon to protest mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The "Oklahoma Freedom Rally" kicked off at 3 p.m., and hundreds of peaceful demonstrators showed up, vowing to "not bow to tyranny." Some protesters were holding anti-vaccine mandate signs that read: "No vaccine mandate," "Mandate medical freedom," and "Protect our freedom."
Patriotic Oklahomans made their way into the Capitol rotunda, where they recited the pledge of allegiance, sang "America the Beautiful," and chanted, "USA! USA! USA!"
The line to enter the Oklahoma state Capitol stretched for great lengths, and at 5 p.m., there were still hundreds of people waiting to enter the statehouse.
Demonstrators said they simply want everyone to have the freedom of choice when it comes to face masks and the coronavirus mandates.
"I do not want to see us be mandated for masks or vaccines because that is our right to choose what's best for us," a rallygoer told KOCO-TV. "So, that's why I'm here – to support for freedom, to choose."
"I have suited up in PPE, gone out to people's cars, swabbed them and then unsuited, taken specimens back to the laboratory, and then suited up again and tested them for COVID," Chezney Thompson, a phlebologist who attended the protest, told KOKH-TV. "I have been doing this for two years, and now all of a sudden they're pushing this vaccine or they are going to take away my livelihood."
More than 1,000 Oklahomans rally against vaccine mandates www.youtube.com
Last month, Oklahoma health experts called on Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) to issue an emergency declaration and institute a mask mandate for all children to wear masks at school this fall. Stitt responded by ruling out a school mask mandate, and added that he is "not planning" an emergency order.
Several hospitals have said they will require staff members to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which prompted a group of Republican lawmakers from Oklahoma to write a letter to Stitt encouraging him to prohibit any vaccine mandates for health care workers.
Protester Donna Teeter said her sister could lose her nursing job if the governor doesn't ban coronavirus vaccine mandates.
The "Freedom Rally" was organized by John Bennett, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
"We in Oklahoma, we refuse to be locked down," Bennett said in a video that was released before the rally. "We will not be forced to be vaccinated against our will, because in Oklahoma, we believe we are free to choose our own decisions for our families, our education, whether we get a shot or not, and we will not be forced into anything by an overreaching government that peddles fear."
"They're pushing for mandatory vaccinations, forcing all of us to wear masks against our will. They're forcing our kids to wear masks. They're shutting down our schools, our restaurants, they're shutting down our churches and they're restricting our movements," the party leader continued. "I mean, it's only a matter of time before you won't even be able to do anything without the permission of a communist government who will require proof of a vaccination."
There was also a vaccine mandate protest in Los Angeles on Saturday, which was marred by brawls with Antifa that left one man stabbed.