Boston’s Acting Mayor Attacks ‘Vaccine Passport’ Policy in NYC, Comparing Them to ‘Slavery-Era Freedom Papers’

Following the news we reported on yesterday that New York City would become the first major city in the U.S. to require its citizens to show proof of vaccination to participate in most indoor leisure activities starting this fall, Boston’s acting mayor has come out announcing she is staunchly opposed to the idea of the so-called “vaccine passport.”

CNN’s Melissa Alonso reported that during a press conference, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey likened the policy of forcing people to show proof of vaccination to “slavery-era freedom papers.”

“There’s a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers,” Janey told reporters when asked if Boston would soon be following NYC’s model.

Janey then went on to detail several different examples of how she believed certain people in the United States had been wrongly required to show their documentation in the past, including “during slavery, post-slavery, as recent as…what [the] immigrant population has to go through here. We [also] heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense.”

According to Alonso, prior to the Civil War, when slavery was still legal in the United States, “freedom papers or certificates of freedom were documents that African Americans secured as proof they had a right to move and remain safe from enslavement.”

Continuing her attack on the New York City policy, Janey said, “we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities.”

Janey went on to say that while she “wants to see every Boston resident get vaccinated,” she is opposed to rules demanding proof of vaccination for activities as simple as eating in a restaurant or attending a concert. 

“Requiring vaccines in public venues will have a disproportionate impact on low-income families and in communities of color,” she said.

Janey stepped into the role of Boston’s acting mayor after President Joe Biden selected former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to join his administration as Labor secretary. She is now one of several candidates running for a full mayoral term.

Boston City Councilor Andrea J. Campbell, who is also running in the upcoming election to be Boston’s new mayor, and who will be the only other Black woman on the ballot, said she was incredibly disappointed to hear Janey’s remarks about New York City’s vaccination requirements.

“When we are combating a deadly virus and vaccine hesitancy, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous,” she tweeted. “Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism. We are too close to give ground to COVID-19. Science is science. It’s pretty simple: vax up and mask up.”

City Councilor Michelle Wu, another candidate for mayor, agreed that Janey’s attack on vaccination requirements was unwarranted.

“Our leaders need to build trust in vaccines,” she said, adding that she adamantly supports mandates “requiring proof of vaccination to protect people…so the burden does not fall on our small businesses and workers.”


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