Charlene Muhammad/California Black Media
Los Angeles resident, Lois Negrete, drove for two days from California to Georgia to join about 1,000 other vaccine safety advocates from around the country in protests at the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta Oct. 23.
“We haven’t really slept,” said Negrete after arriving at the protest area on the sidewalks outside the CDC. “The most we have slept is 4 hours.”
The Vaccine Injury Awareness League (VIAL), an organization dedicated to raising awareness about children injured during immunization, organized the rally which began at 7:30 a.m. and ended around 2 p.m. VIAL’s goals include raising awareness and support for children injured by vaccines, and overturning the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act which was passed by Congress in 1986 to reduce the exposure of vaccine makers to potential big-dollar lawsuits filed on behalf of vaccine-injured children.
A day after the CDC protest, a group of about 1,500 people gathered in Grant Park, the oldest city park in Atlanta, for a follow-up rally.
“We have a huge outpouring of support from activists all over the country who have shown up today to stand for truth, stand united, and to demand accountability from the CDC,” said Michelle Maher Ford, founder of VIAL.
What’s Fueling Growing Concern About Vaccine Safety?
Across the country, there is growing concern about vaccine safety, particularly in California, where in June of this year Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the “School Vaccine Law”. Requiring all children in the state to receive all of the vaccines on California’s immunization schedule, before attending public and private schools and all daycares. The law mandates dozens of doses of vaccines for 10 different illnesses.
Vaccine safety advocates often point to a statement made last year by Dr. William Thompson, a CDC senior scientist, who stated through his lawyer in 2014 that the CDC hid data suggesting African-American boys, who received the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine before 36 months were at increased risk for Autism.
Recent calls, by U.S. Congressman Bill Posey (R- Fla.), urging the United States House of Representatives to investigate Dr. Thompson’s claims, also strengthened the case of those advocates of vaccine safety.
California Black Media contacted the office of Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to ask if he has plans to investigate Thompson’s claims regarding the CDC’s study. Until the publishing of this article, we had not heard back from him or his staff.
Lois Negrete’s Story
At the rally, Negrete shared her story and explained why it was important for her to attend the rally as a mother and Californian.
Negrete stated Jazz, her 20-year-old daughter developed seizures at six months after receiving a DTaP vaccine, which immunizes kids against bacteria-causing diseases like Tetanus and Whooping Cough and developed strabismus (crossed-eyes) at two-years-old after being vaccinated. Her other children, who were similarly immunized, experienced various reactions.
Negrete, who now home schools her children, says she felt betrayed when California passed the mandatory vaccine law.
Negrete told California Black Media (CBM), “I was born in California, but it feels like my rights continue to be taken away from me.”
Georgia Rally banner courtesy VaxTruth.org
Protests Attracted a Diverse Crowd
Even before the rally at Grant Park began, there were families sitting on blankets and chairs on the lawn while others filled the lawn, standing, all of them eager to hear the guest speakers. The line-up included Barbara Loe Fisher (co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center); Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (son of former Attorney General Robert Kennedy Sr.); Marcella Piper-Terry (founder of VaxTruth.org); Student Minister Tony Muhammad (Nation of Islam Western Region Representative); Dr. Toni Bark (Center for Disease Prevention & Reversal); and more.
“People are here today to protest a criminal conspiracy by CDC, orchestrated by Frank DeStefano, who is the Branch Chief at CDC’s Vaccine Division. He ordered the destruction of documents proving that African-American boys, who got the MMR vaccine on time, had a 250 percent greater chance of getting autism,” said Robert Kennedy.
Kennedy said if DeStefano had come clean back in 2001when they knew this was a problem, there would not be 50,000 to 100,000 Black boys who now have Autism.
Muhammad, one of the two African-American speakers at the rally stated, the Black community needs to be made more aware about the risks of vaccination.
“Over 200,000 Black boys have been mutilated in their minds and are really in a state of death,” he said.
Dr. Akbar Muhammad, National Representative of the Nation of Islam, also spoke at the event.
Paula Willard, who traveled from Texas, held two posters depicting photos of her son and six other children impacted by vaccines in her family. Unaware of any problems with vaccines, Willard says she vaccinated her son until age six. She stopped after reading about possible dangers.
“Last year when the CDC whistleblower was made aware to the public, I became very, very involved. It clicked, and I was outraged,” said Willard.