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Freedom Fighters: Group protests in DeKalb against mask and vaccine mandates

DeKALB – Ciara Mathey isn’t anti-vaccine or anti-mask, she’s pro-freedom.

Protesting for freedom is why Mathey and about 20 others gathered at Memorial Park in DeKalb at the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The End the Mandates Protest was organized by the Libertarian Party of DeKalb County, Illinois.

“We want to live life the way we knew it before the pandemic,” said Mathey, the Libertarian Party’s event coordinator. “Personally, I’m totally anti-force. We can access our own risk and make our own decisions for our own health and safety. I want to go back to our regular life, where we’re not putting masks on everyone or being forced to have vaccinations. We’re two years into [the pandemic], and we know how to take precautions.”

Mathey said she attended the protest with her husband John and their 18-month-old daughter LeOra “to stand up for our rights.”

“I’m here to stand up for our freedom and constitutional rights,” she said. “It’s important to raise awareness and show people in DeKalb that we’re here for them.”

The group’s protest was aimed toward Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s indoor mask mandate and school personnel vaccine mandate, which was issued Aug. 26. The mask mandate requires everyone 2 and older to wear a mask while indoors and the vaccine mandate is for all preschool through 12th-grade teachers and staff and higher education employees.

Joshua Alvarado of Rolling Meadows, co-founder of Restore IL and Illinois Standing Against Tyranny, attends protests, rallies and sit-ins weekly around northern Illinois, including Chicago, Schaumburg and Crystal Lake.

“We need to show people that there are others that feel and think the same way, to remind them that they’re not alone,” Alvarado said. “Nobody should be afraid to voice their own opinions. Protests are happening worldwide because our freedoms are being taken away. It’s not my business what anyone does with their body, and at the same time, it’s not their business what I do with mine.”

Alex O’Dell of Davis Junction attended the protest because he is “against mask and vaccine mandates and statewide and nationwide overreach of the government.”

“I feel if I don’t speak up now against this power grab, I will be complacent,” O’Dell said. “You should be free to do what you want and am under the presumption that you know best how to live your life. … Everyone has a right to their own opinion and everyone has freedom of speech.”

O’Dell said during the protest, he didn’t notice any negative reactions.

“Everyone is driving past honking and giving us thumbs up,” he said. “It’s a very welcome sight.”

Sarah Bish of Waterman attended the protest “for the rights of her children.”

“I have three children, and as a parent, I want the ability to choose what is right for them,” she said. “My children academically and with their mental health last year with remote learning, social distancing and mask-wearing. My son started kindergarten and it was an awful experience. He had to sit on a taped square, eat alone, wear a mask for seven hours a day and was not allowed to play on the playground. I loved kindergarten and have fond memories of my kindergarten days. He said he hates school, and I hate to hear that. He should be having fun, playing, interacting, learning social skills and language. Instead, he was miserable, and I had to take him out of public school.”

Bish said that she is not against mask-wearing.

“If you want to wear a mask that’s fine, but I don’t want you to judge me for not wearing one and I don’t want to be forced to wear one,” she said. “It’s all about having freedom and the right to choose.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask-wearing indoors “if you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older.” The CDC also states “in general, you do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings,” but “in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.”

The CDC also recommends that “everyone aged 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.” Getting vaccinated help protect against getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 and help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Bish said that attending the anti-mandate protest was a way “of standing up and speaking out.”

“I want my kids to live their lives,” Bish said. “They have had all this suffering and for what? I just want it to be over. They said ‘Two weeks to slow the curve,’ and here we are. It’s time to stand up.”

The Libertarian Party of DeKalb County meets 7 p.m. the second Friday of every month. For more information and the monthly meeting’s location, visit the group’s Facebook page.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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