‘Not anti-mask, but anti-mandate:’ Hundreds attend the Freedom for Choice rally in Kennewick

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Hundreds gathered Wednesday evening to protest mask and vaccine mandates at the Freedom for Choice rally in front of the Kennewick School District.

People lined the streets outside, waving signs and chanting amid honks from passing cars.

Organizers with the rally said the event wasn’t anti-mask or anti-vaccine but anti-mandate.

This comes hours after Governor Jay Inslee announced the biggest mandate to hit Washington schools right as the upcoming season is about to start.

Tara Childs, an organizer for the event, said the idea is about “making informed choices.”

“People get to look at both sides or all sides of an idea, research it, interpret it, and then make a decision for themselves, their body, and their health,” Childs said.

Annette Parrish Rose, another organizer, said the reason she wanted to create the rally is “because I keep feeling like if we don’t stop these mandates our governor is trying to put in place, for our schools and our state right now, when will they ever stop?”

“It’s about getting our commissioners, local leaders, and school boards’ attention and reminding them that they do have power! Right now everyone is hiding behind the mandates, throwing their hands up in the air and saying ‘there’s nothing we can do’. That is not true,” Rose said. “Our government is set up so that no one man is too powerful. I want to remind our local leaders and school boards that they were elected by us and they work for us.”

Washington State Representative Brad Klippert said he believes the “government’s job is to find out what the truth is and then share that truth with the citizens so they can protect themselves.”

“I hope that citizens will stand up for their constitutionally protected rights. If someone wants to wear a mask, I totally support their decision to wear a mask. If someone wants to get a vaccination, I totally support their right to get a vaccination, I encourage them to, and want to make it available to them,” Rep. Klippert said. “But for those who don’t want to wear a mask or those who don’t want to be vaccinated, we must also protect their individual rights.”

A spokesperson with the Kennewick School District provided KAPP/KVEW with this statement regarding the rally:

“The district is focused on creating a safe learning environment for all students and will adhere to any of the state mandates regarding COVID-19 safety that are in place when school opens.”

The district will be following the mask and vaccine guidelines listed here.

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