Written by by By Jen McCaffrey, CNN
Is there any place more appropriate for anti-vaccination protesters to form a human barricade than in Manhattan’s urban heart — the densely packed streets of Brooklyn, to be exact?
A mass of orange-clad demonstrators, encircled in soft velvety folds by Manhattan’s majestic bridges, popped out of nowhere last night and blanketed the floor space along 42nd Street, blocking nearly all of the intersection between Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
The grouping, gathering to support Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving, was protesting a decision made by the Brooklyn Nets star to forego a preventive form of the shot for his newborn son, JJ. The protest was organized via Twitter in less than a 24-hour period, with flyers featuring a cutout of Irving’s face, the number 38, and the hashtag #TreatYourself.
The star, who has frequently spoken out on social issues, was mocked this summer for skipping out on speaking at a panel discussion at the Rio Olympics. At the time, he was embroiled in a public war of words with LeBron James over politics.
Protests of pro-vaccination organizations
Thus, in observance of the anti-vaxxers’ fear of medical conspiracies, a pair of protest outfits ascended upon the large, neon-colored platform in the middle of last night’s prime show business hustle.
Beneath a glittering banner with the insignia of Texas-based group The Truth About Vaccines (THAT!), protestors held banners with the logo “#deadkids.”
That said, THAT did boast an integrated Facebook page that accounted for, at least in part, for its unfortunate alignment with Irving’s protest. One small explosion of scorn surfaced in the debate between Thiara Kailhos and Alyson Grant, the original organizers of the event, over concerns that a decision was being made to increase the protest.
A group of youths held signs reading “No more killing our children” while holding their shoes in place in support of Irving.
LeBron James originally tweeted to support Irving after news of the protest broke, but he recently tweeted that he still had full confidence in the NBA star and the Nets.
Antivaxxers don’t want vaccines. Here’s what they want instead. https://t.co/5NIov50lq5 — LeBron James (@KingJames) September 3, 2017
In the face of Irving’s decision, many critics have pointed out that the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard signed a lifetime deal with Cleveland and therefore has the right to make his own decisions as a free agent. Many have also pointed out that (whispers) his son (JJ) was born out of wedlock.
The star’s basketball career could end up sidelined if he’s dealt a serious injury, and in that situation, we’d be stuck with no point guard. NBA protocol
However, Irving spoke out on Sunday, October 1, expressing that the decision to forgo the shot was not the one that truly drove him to the decision.
“I did not want him to be made to regret this decision, this moment or this new life that he’s built,” Irving told The Associated Press. “For him to have that option and know that he can pass the medicine up and not have to take it, I think it’s a smart thing. I’m just trying to protect him.”
Notably, Irving — who was born in New Jersey — said he’s never personally been against vaccines.
“We all agree that vaccinations are good,” he said. “We all want our kids to be healthy. We believe that vaccines are a crucial part of that.”