A very vocal crowd gathered in Walnut Creek Friday evening to protest vaccine and mask mandates there and across Contra Costa County.
The anti-mandate group called the “East Bay Freedom Lovers” started on the Telegram app just seven weeks ago.
“We’re basically freedom lovers in the Bay Area,” said Kristen Farris, member of the East Bay Freedom Lovers.
Farris said the East Bay Freedom Lovers now has 600 followers. She said they are diverse and united in one voice against the government dictating anything, even public health rules.
“We’re against the mandates. We’re against government control,” she said.
More than a hundred demonstrators ultimately showed up in Walnut Creek and they heard from a lot of people in support honking their horns but also some jeers from other people.
Plenty of drivers beeped or gave thumbs up and demonstrators shared their messages by sign, by voice or both.
“Natural immunity is, from all of the scientists I’ve been listening to, is the long-term goal,” said Jeff Wirkus of Brentwood.
But the general public, who found themselves in the middle of the protestors also were not afraid to sound off.
“If they don’t want to wear masks or take vaccines, then stay at home. So you don’t infect the people who are trying to save this world and this country from this horrible pandemic,” said Rich Ergo of Orinda.
Walnut Creek resident Danny Ayala told NBC Bay Area that he lost his 46-year-old cousin to COVID-19 a week and a half ago, a man he described as an anti-vaxer.
“He left behind a 10-year-old and an 8-year-old,” he said.
High school senior Moxie Marsh said she was offended by the demonstration as she continues to fight off long-term effects from her own battle with COVID-19.
“It just feels very harmful and hurtful and like they don’t care,” she said.
The group plans another rally outside Contra Costa Health Services’ main offices Thursday in Martinez.