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'Defeat the Mandates' march coordinator explains why DC event is critical to push back on restrictions

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The organizer of a march against coronavirus vaccine mandates taking place in Washington, D.C., on Sunday says he hopes the event will give people the confidence to speak up against such requirements.

A number of major U.S. cities including D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston have implemented citywide rules requiring residents to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination at certain establishments, such as restaurants and gyms. 

"You're going to hear a lot of people talk about on the left say this is a big, anti-vax rally — it's people coming in to deny science," march organizer Will Witt, an author and political commentator for nonprofit PragerU, told Fox News Digital, "but this march is about the mandate, and this march is about the Draconian measures that we're seeing all across this country right now, especially in places like D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco."

Critics of the regulations say those cities may have jumped the gun on mandating vaccines as the omicron variant of COVID-19 has proven its ability to evade immunity offered by vaccines and that such requirements are a power play from politicians. While the vaccine prevents severe reactions to the virus — particularly in the elderly and those with underlying conditions — U.S. cases have spiked to record highs in recent weeks as the virus infects both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

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Witt said 90% of speakers at the march are vaccinated. Several high-profile speakers, however, have been at the center of national debate over COVID-19 vaccines and mandates, including Dr. Robert Malone, Dr. Peter McCollough, YouTuber JP Spears, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who recently said giving children "one of these vaccines" is "criminal medical malpractice" at a December event in California, according to The Associated Press.

Kennedy's nonprofit organization, Children's Health Defense — which has received some criticism for its newsletters and social media posts questioning the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in children — is sponsoring Sunday's march. The organization doubled its revenue in 2020 to $6.8 million, filings with charity regulators obtained by AP show.

Witt, however, says the point of the rally is not to question vaccines but "to fight back against the mandates," which are "all for political power and gain."

"What we are seeing here is politicians getting power-hungry and saying, 'We want to control people. We want to dictate how they are able to live their lives.' And instead of looking at the science for what is actually really going on, this is how they act," he said. "And so then you get people who don't want to give up their power and jump the gun on all of these mandates and restrictions."

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Witt added how the mandates are a "slippery slope" to more severe restrictions and pointed to Austria, where lawmakers are poised to require all residents to get the vaccine or receive fines of up to 3,600 Euros ($4,085) per quarter, according to Reuters.

When COVID-19 first came to the U.S., Witt said it was "understandable why politicians" want to lock down cities, but after two years into the pandemic, people are starting to get fed up with restrictions when catching the virus seems almost unavoidable. 

Health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at the Grand Yesha Ballroom in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

"No politician wants to be known as the person who didn't [lock down] their city. Everyone gets sick. So, it made sense in the beginning, but it's been almost two years now," Witt said, arguing that those in favor of the mandates aren't being exposed to accurate information in the media.

"I think we've got a pretty clear understanding of how this virus works, how it spreads and the best way to combat this. But again, that real information isn't getting out to a lot of voters and people, so these left-wing places continue to be dominated by these … mandates," he said.

Witt wants people to walk away from the rally feeling "equipped with the information and the courage to go and fight against" mandates.

"You know, whether that means getting involved in local politics or sharing it with people on social media or with their friends anywhere where they can stand up peacefully to these types of edicts and dictates is what we are trying to get people to do," he said.

Dr. Leon Haley Jr. the CEO of UF Health Jacksonville shows his COVID-19 vaccination record card shortly before he received the first injection of the COVID-19 vaccine. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via AP)

Witt expects "tens of thousands" of people to show up at the march, which will begin at the Washington Monument at 10:30 a.m. and end at the Lincoln Memorial.

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COVID-19 cases have reached record highs over the last month, with the U.S. averaging about 700,000 per day since early January. Average daily deaths have remained lower than they were between March and April 2020, and between November and February 2021. The U.S. is recording an average of just under 2,000 deaths per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says unvaccinated individuals are four times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 and 15 times more likely to die of the virus, though unvaccinated individuals over the age of 65 have a much higher risk of severe reaction to COVID-19 than younger, unvaccinated individuals.

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