Democratic Boston Mayor Kim Janey compared the idea of requiring vaccine verification or “passport” to the practice of having to show one’s papers during slavery and the Jim Crow era, as well as the more recent birtherism conspiracy theory.
“There’s a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers,” Janey said during an interview with NewsCenter 5.
“During slavery, post-slavery, as recent as you know what immigrant population has to go through here. We heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense. Here we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionally impact [Black, Indigenous or people of color] communities.”
Janey was asked about New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that he would require New Yorkers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms and other indoor facilities.
“We want to make sure that we are giving every opportunity for folks to get vaccinated. When it comes to what businesses may choose to do, we know that those types of things are difficult to enforce when it comes to the vaccine,” Janey said.
Janey later issued a statement about her comments, saying that the “hurdles facing communities of color with lower vaccination rates” should not be excuses, but that the city “must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery.”
Janey is the first black person and first woman to serve as the mayor of Boston.
The pressure from Washington must have forced a reversal: “I wish I had not used those analogies because they took away from the important issue of ensuring that our vaccination and public health policies are implemented with fairness and equity,” Janey said in a statement.