Hundreds of demonstrators staged a protest against vaccine mandates on Sunday at the Barclays Center in New York City. The protesters – which included Black Lives Matter supporters – demanded that the Brooklyn Nets allow superstar Kyrie Irving to be able to play in NBA games despite being unvaccinated.
Demonstrators called for an end to New York City’s vaccine mandate, and carried signs that read: “End medical mandates” and “No digital passports.” There were also protesters supporting the Nets basketball player with “Stand with Kyrie” signs.
The crowd of protesters was extremely diverse, with conservatives with American, Gadsden, and “F*** Biden” flags, along with Black Lives Matter supporters, and a woman with a “Vegan unvaxxed” sign.
The protesters marched to the Barclays Center – where the Nets played on Sunday without Irving and lost at home to the visiting Charlotte Hornets.
Earlier this month, the Brooklyn Nets banned Irving from playing in all games and participating in practices because he is unvaccinated against COVID-19. New York City’s draconian health guideline requires everyone to be vaccinated to enter indoor gyms. Kyrie was still eligible to play in away games, but the Nets barred him from all games.
The NBA ruled that unvaccinated players banned from playing games must forfeit their salary. If Irving misses the season because he doesn’t get vaccinated against COVID-19, the seven-time All-Star and NBA champion stands to lose his entire $35 million salary this season.
Members of the Black Lives Matter of Greater New York organization participated in the protest against the vaccine mandate. Hawk Newsome – the co-founder and chairman of the group – led protesters in chants of “My body, my choice” and “Let Kyrie play!”
Some of the protesters knocked down barricades and attempt to storm the Barclays Center but were turned away by security.
The clash between protesters and security caused the Barclays Center to temporarily shutter its doors about an hour before Sunday’s Nets game.
“Barclays Center briefly closed its doors today in order to clear protestors from the main doors on the plaza and ensure guests could safely enter the arena. Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule,” Mandy Gutmann, a Barclays Center spokesperson, told CNN in a statement.
The New York Police Department’s press office said no arrests were made.
Protesters Break Through Barricades at Barclay’s Center to Protest Mandates
Last month at a BLM protest in New York City against vaccine mandates, Newsome declared, “We are not anti-vaxxers. Some of us are vaccinated. It’s an individual’s choice. No one should be forced to put something in their body.”
Chivona Newsome – a fellow co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York – threatened an “uprising” to the likes seen across the country following the George Floyd murder over vaccine mandates that she proclaimed to be “racist.”