Some anti-vaccine protestors have begun comparing themselves to civil rights protestors — using anthems of the movement like “We Shall Overcome” and wearing shirts that read “Freedom Keepers” — in their California protests.
Hundreds of vaccine protesters have opposed legislation in California that would crack down on medical exemptions to childhood immunizations. The state does not have personal belief or religious exemptions to vaccines.
“This is misappropriation of a movement that really is not over and proves to be challenging to overcome,” said Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles), a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, according to Politico. “The whole conversation around vaccinations is actually one about privilege and opportunity. It’s a personal choice. It’s a luxury to be able to have a conversation about medical exemptions and about whether or not you think your child should be vaccinated.”
The new restrictions in California are an attempt to curb doctors who hand out medical exemptions too zealously. They target schools with an immunization rate below 95 percent.
Those who receive medical exemptions in California are predominately white, says Politico.
Christina Hildebrand, president and founder of A Voice for Choice, an anti-vaccine organization, said the movement could be compared to the gay rights movement and women’s suffrage, saying that they were also about bodily autonomy.
“The Legislature is equating it to the black civil rights movement but to me, civil rights movements have happened throughout our history in the U.S.,” she said, according to Politico. “To me, do I think it is comparable to MLK and the civil rights movement? I think we’re probably in the beginning stages of getting to something like that.”