Dec. 17, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
Protests against showing proof of vaccination to enter bars and restaurants took place on two separate nights this week at the Queens Center Mall resulting in a number of arrests – videos of which have gone viral online.
Four protesters were cuffed by police Wednesday while six activists were arrested Tuesday following sit-down demonstrations inside restaurants at the mall, located at 90-15 Queens Blvd., police said. Two protesters were arrested on both nights.
A group of activists entered Applebee’s at around 9 p.m. Wednesday and sat down at a number of tables. They refused to leave when workers denied them service for not showing vaccination cards, according to police and video footage posted online.
The NYPD were then called to the restaurant and arrested four people for criminal trespassing after they refused police orders to leave the establishment, cops said.
A 48-year-old Corona man was among those arrested. The other individuals are from Brooklyn and Yonkers as well as a woman from the Bronx.
The Bronx woman, Josephine Valdez, 30, said she lost her job in the educational system because of her vaccination status and was now being denied the ability to eat.
“Can’t work, can’t eat… I want to eat, like the free American than I am,” she said while being cuffed.
A video of Valdez being arrested has generated nearly 400,000 views on Twitter.
Another video capturing the four protesters being led into an NYPD van has amassed around 2.5 million views on Twitter.
A group of protesters surrounded the back of the van and were seen shouting “shame on you” towards the police.
At Applebee’s in queens center mall were multiple protesters against the mandates were arrested for doing a sit in at a restaurant that was for the vax only. #NYC #NYPD #wednesdaythought pic.twitter.com/IqqGP2D8SY
— Leeroy Johnson (@LeeroyPress) December 16, 2021
Some of the protesters said, prior to being arrested, that they were objecting to the mayor’s executive order that requires them to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter restaurants. Many of the demonstrators said the order discriminates against people with medical conditions, while others said it is unlawful.
The mayor’s office did not respond to a Queens Post request for comment pertaining to the incidents.
The arrests followed a similar demonstration Tuesday at the Cheesecake Factory, which is also located inside the mall, where a group of activists entered the establishment at around 7 p.m. They sat down at empty tables and asked to be served. A number of young children were with the group.
A number of protesters refused to leave when workers denied them service for not showing vaccination cards, video footage shows. A restaurant worker then called the police, the NYPD said.
Police responded and arrested six individuals on criminal trespassing charges after they refused several orders to vacate the eatery, police said.
A 37-year-old Ridgewood man along with a 36-year-old Glendale man were among those cuffed.
Two activists were arrested on both nights, including Mitchell Bosch, 42, from Brooklyn, who said he was a U.S. Army war veteran.
Bosch said he was taking a stand to protect people’s rights as Americans. He said he had put his life on the line for his fellow citizens serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I fought for this country in order to give everybody the opportunity for freedom,” Bosch said on video before being arrested
“We will not comply, medical freedom is not negotiable.”
Another protestor, who is African American, likened the demonstrations to sit-ins carried out by Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists in the 1960s who were protesting lunch counter segregation.
“It’s the same thing, it’s segregation all over again,” he said on a video posted online.
“As a black man I feel like I’m being pushed to the side and I don’t count unless I jump through the hoops of what the government tells me to do, and they are demanding that they invade my body autonomy.”
“This is not what America is about… we have had enough and we will stand up for our freedom before we lose it all.”
It is unclear if the groups were part of any particular organization. Some of the videos posted online contained a “Citizens Against Political Persecution INC” (CAPP) watermark. The organization says it fights against the persecution of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government.
CAPP started an online fundraiser earlier this week to cover the legal defense costs of the arrested protesters. The group has generated more than $22,000 from nearly 280 donors.