Signs of unease
Participants rally against vaccine mandate
MAYVILLE — Hundreds of residents came to the county seat Wednesday night displaying American flags and homemade signs opposing vaccine mandates.
The rally took place 30 minutes before the Chautauqua County Legislature’s monthly meeting in the parking lot outside the Gerace Office Building. County officials who needed to enter the building had to walk either through or around the protesters.
Signs displayed included “Remember your oath to the Constitution,” “Which do you stand for: tyranny or freedom?” “Stop the mandate” “Mandates can’t override the Constitution,” “Protect our rights, protect our jobs,” and many more.
During the rally, participants laughed and cheered, but no speeches were given. There was a sound system that played various songs, like “God bless America.” Rev. Mel McGinnis invited one man to pray.
The petition stated it wanted county officials to draft, approve and enforce an ordinance to protect the employment and way of life of people for all citizens. “Specifically, we feel our medical background is a private matter and should not be a condition of employment or commerce,” it states.
Finally, the petition requested the county government to “impose penalties, fines and administrative censure on any for-profit or non-profit business and organization which would terminate or furlough any employee or deny individuals the opportunity for commerce on the basis of their mandatory compliance with COVID-19 policies and procedures.”
A handful of those who marched sat through the full county legislature meeting to express their opposition to mask mandates, vaccines mandates and called on the county to become a “constitutional county.”
In August, the Cattaraugus County Legislature passed ACT NO. 329-2021 which states legislators are “opposing infringements on the inalienable rights of the people and declaring Cattaraugus County a constitutional county and amending the mission statement of the county.”
The resolution says that the “Cattaraugus County Legislature hereby expresses its intent to uphold all such rights of the citizens of Cattaraugus County and that public funds, resources, employees, buildings or offices not be used to restrict such rights or to aid or assist in the enforcement of any restriction of the rights granted under the Constitution or its Bill of Rights (such constitutionality to be determined by the Courts).”
The resolution adds that the Legislature declares Cattaraugus County a Constitutional County, “unwavering in its commitment to protect the constitutional rights of its citizens.”
According to a news release, the rally was entitled “Freedom on display” and was organized by Gerrit Cain, who is the secretary of the Chautauqua County Libertarian Party. He is also running for the 16th District for the county legislature, which includes the towns of Poland, Carroll and Kiantone. He is running against incumbent John Davis, who is the endorsed candidate on the Republican and Conservative lines, and Dustin Carvella, who is the endorsed candidate on the Democratic and Working Families lines.