Michelle Efendi, a 37-year-old mother of four, could spend six months behind bars after her non-violent attempt to get into the State House in Boston. The incident took place shortly after the State House reopened to the public following its COVID-19 closure. She explained the reason for her visit to radio host Dr. Drew Pinsky, saying: “I wanted to meet my elected officials. No one was answering the phone, no one was answering emails. No one was responding to the concerns that I had.”
Efendi, who describes herself as a former liberal, said she only squeezed past the officer she has been charged with assaulting after refusing to show a COVID-19 vaccine passport; she has publicly acknowledged that she never got the jab.
She said that on the day of her arrest, she entered a tent by the State House, squeezing past a law enforcement officer so she could be arrested in solidarity with another protestor. She is not sure when she assaulted someone, telling NewBostonPost: “If I did it, it would have been just like walking past somebody on the MBTA. Really. It would have been like being at a parade. You can see the man that I allegedly assaulted standing there with his hands in his pocket.”
In video footage of the incident, she can be seen walking into the tent and being arrested immediately by a Massachusetts state trooper.
She explained that although the was afraid of the virus when the pandemic first broke out, even going so far as to accuse local officials of not doing enough about it, she eventually changed her view, coming down against mask and vaccine mandates.
She wrote in a blog post: “I was forced to give birth in a mask and was terrified my husband would be force-vaccinated to keep his job. I realized the real threat wasn’t COVID but the government.”
She said that although Massachusetts has dismissed charges similar to hers against climate protestors who disrupted proceedings in the State House in the past, dropping their pants and refusing to leave, the state refuses to drop the charges against her. A statistical analysis conducted by her legal team found that the district attorney of Suffolk County, Kevin Hayden, has been “selectively prosecuting” vaccine protestors while letting other types of protestors walk free.
Efendi said she has no criminal record of any kind and has never even received a parking ticket. She has since moved to Florida and was not sure how she would return to Massachusetts for her court hearing but was eventually given permission to attend the hearing via Zoom.
She said that the doesn’t like to use the term “protest” to describe her efforts to speak out against vaccine mandates. Instead, she says she resisted by entering establishments where masks were required and going about her normal life until employees directly came to her and asked her to leave. Some of the places she took this approach include the Boston Public Library in the Back Bay and the USS Constitution Museum.
She thinks she is being silenced for trying to protest the mandates, saying: “I believe that I was arrested on March 1st in an attempt to silence my civil rights, which are to participate in peaceful protest. And it’s working, because now I don’t protest anymore.”
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