In January 2022, peaceful protesters gathered publicly in Brussels, Belgium and Washington, D.C., to demonstrate against COVID countermeasures, including lockdowns, vaccine passports, and vaccine mandates. As a variety of European-based news outlets and the Defender, the news and opinion website of Children’s Health Defense, reported, the Brussels protest eventually devolved into “clashes.” The Defender reported that, “In the interest of public safety, organizers chose to follow police orders rather than proceed with their planned program. Unfortunately, skirmishes with police followed even after most of the crowd had disbanded.” (By contrast, the French-based outlet Euronews reported that police “moved in to disperse the protesters, after they ignored instructions broadcast over loudspeakers that the demonstration was finished and that they should leave.”)
The Defender reported that Mary Holland, president of the Children’s Health Defense, condemned the violence. “We’re here today to reject the official narrative,” Holland stated. “We’re here to say no to the mandates, no to the passports, but yes to our fundamental rights,” including “the right to protest and petition the government as we were attempting to do today.”
Children’s Health Defense, and its chairman and chief legal counsel, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., have raised questions about vaccine safety, including new mRNA vaccines such as the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines. But news reports by major US news outlets covering the protests were often misleading. The headline of an article published by Voice of America, described the Brussels demonstrators as “anti-vaccination” protestors; ABC News republished an AP report that described “anti-vaccination demonstrators” marching in Barcelona, Spain. Reporting on the Washington, D.C. demonstration, NBC News reported that the “Defeat the Mandates” protest featured “some of the nation’s most prominent anti-vaxxers.” Such coverage lumps all kinds of protestors together, failing to recognize that many demonstrators in Europe and the United States oppose lockdowns, vaccine passports, and vaccine mandates.
Children’s Health Defense Team, “CHD Denounces Violence in Brussels after Police Disrupt COVID Mandates Rally,” The Defender (Children’s Health Defense), February 28, 2022.
Madhava Setty, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, at Least Not on Mainstream Media,” The Defender (Children’s Health Defense), January 26, 2022.
Student Researcher: Tien Young (Saint Michael’s College)
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (Saint Michael’s College)