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Vaccine protest disrupts NY City Council hearing on schools

September 2, 2021 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — Opponents of COVID-19 vaccine mandates repeatedly disrupted a New York City Council Education Committee hearing Wednesday and were ultimately ushered out, according to a news report.

About a dozen protesters in the City Council chamber balcony yelled, flashed thumbs-down signs and lambasted the city for requiring vaccinations for public school teachers and other staffers and for planning to offer the shots at middle and high schools to encourage students to take them, the Daily News reported.

The demonstrators applauded one council member, Joe Borelli, for speaking out against Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to require inoculations for school staffers — but Borelli told the protesters not to cheer him.

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“I think you should all get your vaccines,” said Borelli, a Republican.

After warning the protesters that the room would be cleared if the disruptions continued, committee chairperson Mark Treyger told security guards to remove the demonstrators when an outburst interrupted Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi’s testimony, the newspaper reported.

“This is unacceptable in this institution,” said Treyger, a Democrat and former history and civics teacher. “There is no constitutional right to spread disease in this country.”

Clashes over vaccination and mask policies have disrupted school board meetings around the country this summer.

A poll this month by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 59% of Americans favor requiring vaccinations for teachers, and 55% support them for same for eligible students — those 12 and over. Nearly 60% back mask requirements for teachers and students.

The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.