Just a week after Mayor Muriel Bowser requires select businesses to check proof of vaccination, thousands of people appear to be planning a trip to D.C. to protest vaccine mandates on the National Mall. "Defeat the Mandates: An American Homecoming" is a march and rally on January 23rd that organizers say is being held in order to show their objection to vaccine requirements on businesses or schools that have taken effect across the country.
The event, headlined by several conservative, anti-vaccine advocates, is taking place on federal land, as national protests hosted in D.C. typically do. But some residents are concerned for local business owners and hospitality workers, who could be on the receiving end of protesters looking to buck any mandate and make a point. Residents recall times when right-wing protesters from out of town descended on D.C. and caused mayhem.
At least 20,000 people are expected to attend the anti-mandate protest, according to a permit application submitted from the Children's Health Defense, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s anti-vaccine organization, to the National Park Service. The permit has not been issued yet, but NPS spokesperson Mike Litterst says the agency is expected to do so next week.