On Tuesday Aug. 3, Acting Mayor Kim Janey blunder when she linked restaurant mandated vaccination policy to slavery and Donald Trump’s birtherism. She subsequently said during a news conference that she regretted the comparisons she used.
When asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate requiring proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, entertainment venues, and gyms starting Sept. 13, Acting Mayor Kim Janey—the first woman and black Bostonian to hold the office—said “there’s a long history,” in the United States of people, “needing to show their papers.”
“During slavery, post-slavery, as recent as, you know, what the immigrant population has to go through … birth certificate nonsense,” Janey told WCVB. “We want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities.”
Instead, Janey said, the city “wants to lean in heavy” on community groups to increase Boston’s immunization rate and provide more people with access to the “lifesaving” vaccine.
“As it relates to people who want to encourage their workforce to get vaccinated, we certainly support that,” Janey added.
According to Janey, who assumed office in March when Marty Walsh left to become President Joe Biden’s labor secretary, 66% of Bostonians have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
Janey replied, “That is good progress,” and “We have much more work to do to make sure that everyone can get the vaccine and we will continue to focus on that.”
A requirement like New York’s, however, would be “difficult” to implement, according to Janey. Her remarks sparked sharp rebukes from several of her mayoral opponents in November’s election.
When we are combating a deadly virus & vaccine hesitancy, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous. Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism. We are too close to give ground to COVID. Science is science. It's pretty simple – Vax up and mask up.https://t.co/twxS1PJqYY
— Andrea J. Campbell (@andreaforboston) August 3, 2021
“When we are combating a deadly virus and vaccine hesitancy in some communities, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous,” City Councilor Andrea Campbell tweeted. “Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism. We are too close to give ground to COVID. Science is science. It’s pretty simple—Vax up and mask up.”
The Boston Globe claimed that Janey replied to the criticism later Tuesday night at a block party.
Janey stated, “What I said was there is a long history of asking people to show their paper,” and “What our focus here in Boston is in making sure that everyone has access to the vaccine, making sure that we are doing everything to vaccinate our workforce in the city of Boston, making sure that our residents have access to the vaccine.”
According to WCVB report, Janey’s press office also issued a statement explaining her words.
“Earlier today, I pointed out several hurdles facing communities of color with lower vaccination rates,” according to the statement. “These hurdles should not be excuses, but we must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery.”
Despite a recent increase in COVID-19 (Chinese Communist Party virus) cases in Boston owing to the Delta variant, Janey stated there are no plans for vaccination requirements at companies.
But, according to Janey’s statement, “we are still well below threshold levels that have guided policy decisions throughout the pandemic, … Work with our business community will continue, as we learn to live with COVID-19.”