Boston mayor compares vaccine passports to documentation required during slavery, birtherism
Boston Mayor Kim Janey (D) compared the idea of requiring vaccine verification to the practice of having to show one’s papers during slavery and the Jim Crow era, as well as the more recent birtherism conspiracy theory.
“There’s a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers,” Janey said during an interview with NewsCenter 5. “During slavery, post-slavery, as recent as you know what immigrant population has to go through here. We heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense. Here we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact [Black, Indigenous or people of color] communities.”
Janey was asked the question in light of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) Tuesday announcement that he would require New Yorkers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms and other indoor facilities.
“We want to make sure that we are giving every opportunity for folks to get vaccinated. When it comes to what businesses may choose to do, we know that those types of things are difficult to enforce when it comes to the vaccine,” Janey said.
Janey, who became mayor after Marty Walsh (D) was chosen as President Biden’s secretary of Labor and is running for a full term, sparked backlash among her opponents for her comments.
“When we are combating a deadly virus and vaccine hesitancy, 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.”
“Anyone in a position of leadership should be using that position to build trust in vaccines,” City Councilor Michelle Wu said in a statement, according to NewsCenter 5.
Janey later issued a statement about her comments, saying that the “hurdles facing communities of color with lower vaccination rates” should not be excuses, but that the city “must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery.”
Janey is the first Black person and first woman to serve as the mayor of Boston.