Agoura Hills resident “Taryn” at one point climbed the ranks at Discovery Channel Studios, only to realize that a high-powered executive position in the cutthroat entertainment industry was not her life’s passion. A family crisis led to her dream job of caretaking.
Sadly, the certified nursing assistant is again at a career crossroads, being forced to choose either to get an experimental shot or find another job.
“The noose around my neck is starting to tighten,” the 30-something “Taryn” — who wishes to remain anonymous for this article because she fears retaliation from her employer, which is cooperating with statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandates — told the Conejo Guardian. “I feel the chair slipping beneath my feet. Watching so many nurses protest [this mandate], I know I am not the only one feeling this way. It is alarming how many people don’t want to take the vaccine.”
Serving seniors in communities throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, Taryn describes an increasingly “paralyzing” work environment where discrimination against the unvaccinated is becoming more commonplace. She notes that employees who refuse to get the jab are singled out. Her manager, she said, confronted unvaccinated employees in front of other staff, reminding them they will not be allowed in company facilities if they do not comply by the deadline.
“I need to make a living,” Taryn said. “Do I not get the shot and give up my dream?”
Millions like her nationwide are wrestling with the decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, and how they will cope with the ramifications of their choices. Many choosing not to get the jab are seeking medical and religious exemptions, others are filing lawsuits, and still others are standing up and peacefully protesting. As America’s Frontline Doctor Jeff Barke recently reminded a local audience, “If we are not willing to sacrifice now, we will sacrifice everything later on.”
Prepared to Fight
Newbury Park native and UCLA anesthesiologist Dr. Chris Rake has taken a strong stance against forced vaccine mandates, openly denouncing the requirements since they were implemented by California State Public Health Officer and Director Tomás Aragón in early August.
Rake wasted no time launching the nonprofit CUFF (Citizens United for Freedom), which seeks to activate the citizenry “to work to preserve our freedom of bodily autonomy… [and] to restore the freedom this great country was once known for” through protests and community calls to action, communicated through the organization’s weekly newsletter.
Knowledgeable of the medical aspects of the coronavirus, as well as the life-saving early treatments that combat severe illness from COVID-19, Rake has helped inform and mobilize hundreds of Californians to act against the encroaching efforts of the state to essentially hold people’s bodies and jobs ransom, as he describes it.
“I am not going to negotiate with terrorists,” said Rake in a conversation with the Conejo Guardian. “The only thing they respond to is power,” speaking of state authorities pushing health measures threatening to destroy his livelihood.
“We’re going to take the fight to them…. We’re going to call for a statewide shutdown if Governor Newsom and Dr. Aragón do not revoke this mandate. … We’re confident of one thing: as Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘The arc of history is long but it always bends toward justice.’ We’re on the side of truth, we’re on the side of law, we’re on the side of ethics and common human decency. Even if takes a long time, we know we will prevail; it’s just a matter of standing up united.”
CUFF encourages its members not to rely on medical and religious exemptions as a workaround for the vaccine mandates.
“The exemptions are a trap,” said Rake. “They [government officials] don’t have a right to give you an exemption. When you apply for an exemption, it’s like you’re applying to them and acknowledging some sort of authority they have over your body.”
Some churches, including Godspeak Calvary Chapel, of which Rake is a member, take a different view of exemptions. More than 8,000 exemptions were downloaded from that church’s website mere days after the form was first posted.
“It’s a totalitarian move,” argued Rake against that approach. “You get comfortable in your medical exemption … but it’s not going to win back our freedoms. Everyone can stand behind medical freedom, and every person has the right to choose for his or her own body.”
The focus of CUFF is peaceful civil disobedience, in protest of mandatory vaccine and mask mandates.
“We need unity, we need sacrifice, we need to stick together,” Rake said. “We do not leave anyone behind. This is a ‘We the People’ movement. And we will not stop until we get full and complete annulment of these mandates that violate constitutional and federal law. It’s the worst abuse of medical ethics I have ever seen.”
Firefighters Wait for Negotiations
Dr. Rake’s clarion call for unity is being echoed by a group of first responders from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, whose efforts have successfully connected firefighters from coast to coast.
Sharing the goal of securing nondiscriminatory policies in their departments are firefighting veterans John Knox, of the Los Angeles City Fire Department and founder of the group Firefighters 4 Freedom; Josh Zavala, of Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Telegram group Fire Department Freedom Leaders; and Sean Coffman, a fire engineer and inspector for the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Coffman told the Conejo Guardian that Firefighters 4 Freedom is “not a political group but a freedom of choice movement” that already has representatives in states including Idaho, Texas and New York, as well as California.
Critics, such as the Los Angeles Times, have labeled the opposition a “cult of militant anti-vaxxers.” Yet with hundreds of members and growing, Firefighters 4 Freedom remains determined “to stop the mandated vaccinations for all city employees as well as the citizens of this great county.”
Coffman explained that Santa Barbara County public health officials are giving one-sided information.
“They are not talking about antibodies,” he says. “They are still justifying the masks, they are pro-vax, and pushing hard on the agenda.”
Attorney Kevin McBride, representing Firefighters 4 Freedom and L.A. City firefighters, will file a lawsuit against the city and the county in September. Joining an impressive legal team is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who brings experience and conviction to the litigation process.
“We put a lot of pressure on them [union leaders] yesterday,” said Zavala, referring to the September 14 Local 1014 union meeting attended by some 200 L.A. County firefighters, all of whom voted unanimously for two motions to be passed by the member-elected union board.
These motions included the development of an online platform to encourage more participation in union meetings, and a resolution denouncing mandatory vaccinations, discrimination, segregation and invasive testing, and the right of members to retain legal counsel to defend Los Angeles Fire Department employees.
“We’re trying to put our best foot forward and hope that they get a good deal for us,” said Zavala.
Knox, however, is not waiting for a deal from the county or the union — and some 400 firefighters are standing with him.
“What we’re doing is going to help a lot more people than the citizens of L.A.,” Knox says. “We are asking everyone to stand up and to fight peacefully. The union says it stands with us, but they are calling this a labor issue. We are not willing to negotiate with the city or the county on this issue.”
Parents Prepare for Battle
Ventura County parents, too, are saying no.
Thousand Oaks residents Mo and Westen, the parents of two children, ages one and four, say that while they are reasonably comfortable in their current situation, they know their circumstances could change at any moment — and they have to be prepared for battle, if confronted with mask and vaccine mandates.
The couple’s four-and-a-half-year-old daughter attends a private Christian school in Thousand Oaks, where masks are not required and, so far, there is no vaccine mandate.
“If this private school puts the kids in masks, we would not do that. I would just home school,” said Mo, an entrepreneur who manages multiple small businesses from home.
Public school graduates, Mo and Westen believe the leftist ideologies being pushed on children in government schools are only a part of the problem.
“It’s the harm they are now doing to the child’s body with masks and required routine COVID testing,” said Westen.
Self-described “rule followers,” Mo and Westen say there are things they will not do: no masks and no vaccines. They want to be a resource for parents seeking alternatives to public schooling.
“If you don’t have Jesus, and you put your faith in government, whether right or left, right now is a very hopeless time,” Westen says. “But if we stand up, people will hopefully see the light, and hope will spread in this dark time.”
In Ventura County and throughout Southern California, police officers, firefighters, health care workers and parents are refusing to tolerate what they deem an outrageous form of medical tyranny.