Anti-vax protestors descended on Brooklyn’s Barclays Center ahead of Sunday afternoon’s Nets game in support of Kyrie Irving, who is currently unable to play basketball at home games due to the city’s vaccine mandate.
Video from outside the arenas shows dozens of protestors waving flags, touting anti-vax signs and chanting “No vaccine mandate, Stand with Kyrie.” According to Newsday’s Barbara Barker, the protestors managed to jump the barricades outside the arena and congregated at the entryway of the Barclays Center.
Getting scary out here. Crowd of protesters just jumped barricades and pushing towards door. Chanting let Kyrie play. pic.twitter.com/PlSu5B8amV
— Barbara Barker (@meanbarb) October 24, 2021
Sunday marked the Brooklyn Nets’ first home game of the 2021-22 season. While Irving is unable to play in New York City-area games due to the vaccine mandates in place for indoor sporting events and concerts, the Nets have also stated that Irving will not practice or play with the team at all over his “personal decision.”
Protesters outside the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn against unvaccinated Kyrie Irving not being permitted to play, have now broken through the security barricades outside the arena. pic.twitter.com/1fmpjNvFoK
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) October 24, 2021
Irving recently said he felt “demonized” by the mandate and its fallout. “Why are you putting it on me?” he said. “This is not part of what’s going on with conservations with scientists and physicians and doctors. I’m just a hooper.” He added, “I haven’t hurt anybody. I haven’t committed a crime. I’m not out here acting dumb, stupid. I’m out here taking care of my family, my kids.”
Irving has emerged as the most prominent vaccine skeptic among NBA players who have been vocal about their refusal to get the shot. Rolling Stone reported last month on the league’s struggles to contend with the issue, noting that Irving has been following and liking posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims the vaccine is part of a scheme to connect Black people to a master computer.
The scene outside Barclays Center where a group of protesters chant, “No vaccine mandate, Stand with Kyrie.” Several hold “Stand with Kyrie” signs. This is the Nets’ home opener. Kyrie Irving will be away from team until he complies with NYC vaccine mandate. pic.twitter.com/833DqYOLf7
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 24, 2021
The misinformation campaign has spread across multiple locker rooms, according to Rolling Stone’s reporting, and as of the beginning of training camp there were around 50 to 60 players who had yet to get a single dose of the vaccine.
Andrew Wiggins, a prominent player mentioned in the initial article who — as a Golden State Warrior — also plays in a vaccine-mandated market, received his vaccination prior to the start of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Super weird scene at Barclays,with thousands of Nets fans and a couple hundred protesters screaming about "Nazi passports." pic.twitter.com/ZF5WabnMpd
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) October 24, 2021