A speaker at an anti-vaccine gathering on Sunday threatened that schools and town halls would be set on fire if mandates persist.
The comments were made during a protest on Staten Island, outside a venue where New York Governor Kathy Hochul was scheduled to speak. Videos of the speaker, who has not been identified, were posted to Twitter by freelance journalist Oliya Scootercaster.
“If they’re going to push this on the kids,” the unknown speaker can be heard saying in the video, “I can guarantee you one thing: Town halls and schools will be f–king burned to the ground.”
Later, the speaker insinuated that direct violence would also be another step taken against vaccine requirements.
“In 1776, nobody went to court, nobody went to court, anyone grabbed a gun and they f–king shot each other!” they said.
His comments drew applause from the gathered crowd, with one person heard shouting, “Yeah!” Despite the inflammatory initial comments, the speaker also disavowed any potential anti-vaccine violence.
“I do not condone violence and hope we do not get to that,” he said. “But just understand that there are plenty of people that are ready to go there.”
Staten Island, considered the most politically conservative of New York City’s five boroughs, has frequently played host to backlash against vaccines and other COVID-19 protocols.
In September, clips circulated online showing a mob of anti-vaccine protestors swarming through a food court at the Staten Island Mall. In one clip, also shared by Scootercaster, members of the crowd can be heard shouting “USA” and “F–k Joe Biden,” and one person can be seen wearing a “Trump Won” shirt.
The food court at the time was open only to fully vaccinated customers. Despite that fact, none of the protestors appeared to be confronted by mall security or asked to show vaccination cards.
“Everybody, go get food and eat. That is what we are here to do,” one protester said. “We’re going to meet over there and go into the food court area and sit our butts down and stay as long as we like.”
“Vaccinated or unvaccinated, we are all one people,” another person said. “We shouldn’t be carrying papers or showing papers because we live in America.”
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