Home News Boston mayor uses slavery, Trump to shoot down questions about vaccine passports

Boston mayor uses slavery, Trump to shoot down questions about vaccine passports

Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey shot down talks of mandating proof of vaccination in the city, comparing such papers to the Jim Crow era and former President Donald Trump’s birtherism theories. 

“We know that those types of things are difficult to enforce when it comes to vaccines,” Janey, a Democrat, said Tuesday when she was asked if she’s considering mandating vaccine passports.

“There’s a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers — whether we talking about this from the standpoint of, you know, as a way to, after — during slavery, post-slavery, as recent as, you know, what the immigrant population has to go through,” she continued. 

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“We’ve heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense,” she added. “Here, we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionately impact BIPOC communities.”

Kim Janey speaks after being sworn in as the 55th Mayor of the City of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., March 24, 2021.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder
( REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

The comments came as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced people in his city will be required to show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment shows.

New York is the first city in the nation to require such proof of vaccination, with de Blasio calling the passports the “Key to NYC Pass.”

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“This is a miraculous place, literally filled with wonders,” de Blasio said of the city. “If you’re vaccinated, that’s gonna open up to you, you can open the door. If you’re unvaccinated you will not be able to participate in many things. It’s time for people to see vaccination as necessary to living a good, full, and healthy life.”

Janey was hit with pushback from mayoral opponents and liberal activists for her comments, the Boston Herald reported, with City Councilor Andrea Campbell saying the remarks were “dangerous.” 

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“When we are combating a deadly virus & vaccine hesitancy, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous. 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,” Campbell, a mayoral candidate, said. 

“Anyone in position of leadership should be using that position to build trust in vaccines,” said Michelle Wu, another candidate for mayor.

Janey released a follow-up statement later on Tuesday, saying Boston has “no current plans” to implement a vaccine passport mandate similar to New York’s. 

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“Earlier today, I pointed out several hurdles facing communities of color with lower vaccination rates,” she said. “These hurdles should not be excuses, but we must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery.”

The comment comes as local leaders look to increase the vaccination rate in Black and Latino communities, where getting the jab has lagged compared to White counterparts. 

Janey is the first female mayor of Boston, as well as the New England city’s first Black mayor. She was sworn into the position in March after former Mayor Marty Walsh joined the Biden administration as labor secretary.