“We are opposed to the mandate. Everyone should have the freedom to choose when there is a risk, ”said Corinne Hammond, Billings health care worker and rally organizer.
Hammond said the rallies also took place in nine other Montana towns: Bozeman, Glendive, Great Falls, Hamilton, Helena, Kallispell, Miles City, Missoula and Sidney.
The rally drew a large crowd, with people stretching around the corner of 24th Street West to the first entrance to Walmart’s aisle on King Avenue West. Many held signs condemning “government excesses”.
The rallies were hosted by Big Sky Liberty Alliance, a private Facebook group with about 1,300 members statewide, Hammond said.
The group is led by five Billings health workers Kristen Gilfeather, Corinne Hammond, Lori Gilbertlee, Amanda Sieler and Lauren Zachmann who were not present at the rally. There were originally two groups that appeared around the beginning of October. They then combined when the group’s admins got to know each other.
“I could see a bit of what was going on and I was concerned that we needed a platform for healthcare workers to come together, communicate and support each other. Because I noticed that a lot of people who were against it stayed silent out of fear and they didn’t want to be harassed or intimidated, ”Hammond said.
Hammond said the group was closely monitoring the 10-state lawsuit against the federal government, seeking to overturn the vaccine’s mandate. The mandate states that healthcare workers and employees of companies with more than 100 workers should get their first vaccine before December 5 and be fully immunized by January 4.
“We all hold our breath until we know if this is going to be suspended or if it goes forward as is and there is a lot of pressure on both sides,” said Hammond.
The organizers of the rally all agreed that if they were forced to be vaccinated against COVID-19, they would quit their jobs.
“Everything that God puts before me. I’ll serve at the tables. I do not care. I’m just not taking this vaccine, ”said Lori Gilbertlee.
” Same. I don’t know what the next step is, but I’m going to reinvent myself somehow, ”Hammond added.
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