New Jersey lawmakers stage ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest over vaccine laws

More than a dozen lawmakers kneel and throw their arms around one another as they claim right to refuse vaccinations for their children Republican legislators in New Jersey staged a “Black Lives Matter protest”…

New Jersey lawmakers stage 'Black Lives Matter' protest over vaccine laws

More than a dozen lawmakers kneel and throw their arms around one another as they claim right to refuse vaccinations for their children

Republican legislators in New Jersey staged a “Black Lives Matter protest” at the State House on Friday, calling on lawmakers to overturn a rule requiring parental consent to have their children vaccinated for certain diseases.

The rule applies to students who attend public and private schools in New Jersey. It prohibits students from schools whose student rosters include students with a current status for whooping cough, measles, chicken pox, mumps, rubella, polio, foot and mouth disease and whooping cough.

“Every state has some rules, but this is outrageous,” said state Senator Mike Doherty, who is a Tea Party-backed Republican and co-founder of a group called Concerned Citizen Patriots.

The rule – which a bipartisan majority of Republican legislators sought to overturn in August – has been a bone of contention for the law school dean and dean of education at Monmouth University who have argued that it represents a “massive attack on parental rights”.

It also has prompted protests against the new rule at several cities across the country.

“I’m a father and I want to make sure that we do everything to keep my children healthy. But when we get down to the private schools, we’re going down a slippery slope and it’s not just a conspiracy,” said state Senator Jennifer Beck.

The state legislator said that she and others in the State House hope to convince the Legislature to overturn the rule, which the Democratic majority have not done to date.

“That’s exactly why we’re here today,” Beck said. “I hope we can convince them to overturn it, I hope we can save some lives.”

Nearly 2,000 measles cases have been reported across the US this year, a full year of wide-spread vaccination under attack and a rise in parents choosing not to have their children immunized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so far this year there have been 2,247 measles cases reported in the US.

Some Republican legislators used different tactics in New Jersey to reach their end goal. About 15 legislators knelt on the floor in the Senate and 13 legislators knelt in the Assembly. Dozens of legislators staged a sit-in, with each legislator staging their own individual protest in the hopes of preventing the rules from being enforced.

Some of the New Jersey legislators who joined the sit-in staged themselves in the style of the “Black Lives Matter” activists that often block traffic in public places to draw attention to the causes they support. They kneeled and threw their arms around one another.

“I’m here to be the voice for this movement,” Republican state Senator Kevin O’Toole said. “We don’t walk in lockstep with each other – we see things differently.

“But we have one objective: to ensure that vaccinations are available in every school and to get rid of these ridiculous rules.”

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