Texas Panhandle residents march through downtown Amarillo for medical freedom

Coronavirus

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Dozens of Texas Panhandle residents walked through downtown Amarillo Friday afternoon, calling for medical freedom in the midst of ongoing, and further potential, COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

Participants in Friday’s “Amarillo March for Medical Freedom” marched through downtown Amarillo, stopping at the regional offices for various state and federal representatives located downtown. Participants ended the march’s route at the Amarillo City Hall.

This comes after similar protests calling for medical freedom occurred at Pantex as well as Bell Helicopter last month. Officials with the Texas Attorney General’s office announced Friday its intention to sue President Joe Biden’s administration for its “illegal and unconstitutional vaccine mandate imposed on private businesses.”

According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the Biden administration announced Thursday that Americans who work at companies that have 100 or more employees will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus weekly starting Jan. 4, 2022. Officials expect the requirements to apply to approximately 84 million workers throughout the country. In September, Biden signed an executive order, requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all federal employees.

Ryan Brightbill, the organizer of Panhandle Texans for Medical Choice, the group which organized the event, said he is concerned about the federal mandate, which helped spur the organization of Friday’s march.

“A lot of people’s livelihoods are going to be on the line. We are extremely concerned about people’s livelihoods being on the line. People need to feed their families, be able to provide for their families, be able to put a roof over their heads,” he said. “This whole mantra that you have to be able to get a medical procedure or else you lose your job I think is just entirely wrong. I do believe it’s unconstitutional.”

Brightbill said representatives from Pantex, Bell Helicopter, Tyson, JBS and Caviness were represented during Friday’s event. While the organization is not against the vaccine, or for the vaccine, he stressed the importance of individuals having the choice on whether or not they should be vaccinated.

John Smithee, the District 86 representative for the state of Texas, said while it is his job to meet with constituents, he was sympathetic to the demonstrators’ cause, with the mandate being a “freedom” and “federalism” issue.

“I think most of us are pro-vaccine but we really have a problem with these vaccine mandates coming down from the federal government. It’s really not the federal government’s business to be telling local governments or local businesses how to operate,” Smithee said. “…A lot of these people who are having issues right now, they really don’t need the vaccine because they recently had COVID. They have a natural immunity, science tells us that.”

Four Price, the District 87 representative for the state of Texas, said after the announcement from the Texas Attorney General about challenging the mandate, there could be a special session addressing this matter in the near future. That is one of the reasons why he wanted to attend Friday’s event.

“I felt it was appropriate to address them and answer questions, visit with them and express my desire that we not have mass vaccine mandates,” Price said. “I think what the President’s administration is doing is a bad approach…At a time where there is a lot of burdens on private employers already, this is reflecting the feelings of a lot of folks across not just our community, but the state of Texas.”

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