Hundreds who oppose vaccines — particularly the COVID-19 vaccines currently used to fight coronavirus globally — gathered in Moroni, Utah to burn a giant syringe in effigy to celebrate a "night of liberty" and the end of "medical tyranny."
Former police officer Eric Moutsos broadcast the event that attracted hundreds of people, including many families, to watch the syringe go up in flames. Moutsos was put into the public eye when he was put on leave as a Salt Lake City Police Department officer for declining to ride as a motorcycle escort for a Utah Pride parade.
During 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been a vocal leader and organizer against the way Utah has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. He produced the film "Non-Essential" and has played it at tour stops in several states, including several in Utah. He also organized business rallies against mask mandates.
"Before this, how many people really cared about vaccines?" he asks in his video, now on YouTube. "I didn't. But now, this is a giant needle," he said in the video.
You can learn more about vaccines in Utah from the Utah Vaccine Guidebook.
"We talked about Freedom, Liberty, Choice, Proper Role of Government, Our Children, and ultimately how God and standing on His principles is going to be the only way we take our country back," Moutsos wrote in the Facebook recap.
One of the first school vaccinations required for school children was enacted in the 1850s to prevent the spread of smallpox in Massachusetts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is given authority to regular vaccines and approve them when it determines they are safe for the United States.
According to aggregating website Worldometers.info.coronavirus, globally the COVID-19 virus has claimed 3.2 million lives, or 2% of the cases that have reached a outcome. That same percentage holds for U.S. deaths that the website now numbers at 593,699 at press time. Utah has counted 2,219 deaths and has one of the lowest death rates among U.S. states. For those who survive, there are also long-term effects.
Utah's Department of Health has a resource page for vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases.
"To attend a Utah early childhood program, a student must meet the minimum immunization requirements of the ACIP for the following antigens: Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Haemophilus Influenza Type b, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Pneumococcal, and Varicella prior to school entry."
Utah allows for religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccines. The CDC reports Utah has an approximately 5% exemption rate among kindergartners.
At the rally the needle was placed behind caution tape while people gathered around in the desert setting to watch it burn and listen to live music. Moutsos said on his video:
When government and mainstream media and and every single powerful, celebrities... every person on TV, actors, this is a giant needle. Medical tyranny.
The 10-minute video available on Moutsos' YouTube channel and his Facebook page where he wrote of the event:
Obviously burning the giant syringe was one of the highlights of the night, literally burning the false god idol that’s being pushed on the world population by fear, coercion, and force. We took it to the ground. It was a beautifully symbolic.
Moutsos is on the record as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and quotes scripture and spiritual motivation for his film and the syringe-burning rally.
"God created us to be free. He created us with immune systems to fight of viruses. He created us to gather one with another to talk about Him. Mask-less and fearless," he wrote.
Vice reported that Ammon Bundy, known for protests and demonstrations against the government was also in attendance, as well as Utah State Rep. Phil Lyman, convicted for organizing an ATV protest in Recapture Canyon in southern Utah in 2014 in an attempt to challenge federal management of public lands. He was pardoned by former President Donald Trump in 2020.