A gaggle of gun-toting California ladies calling themselves a “Mamalitia” have been accused of intimidating public well being officers over vaccines, with at the least one state lawmaker elevating considerations that their activism might encourage vaccine hesitancy.
The “Mamalitia” has grown out of a bunch referred to as the Freedom Angels, which tried to dam scholar vaccinations on the California state capitol in 2019. Final yr, amid COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, the group participated in demonstrations exterior the properties of native public well being officers and on the state capitol.
State Senator Richard Pan, a Democrat, raised considerations that the group’s efforts will discourage individuals from getting the secure and efficient COVID-19 vaccines. He accused the group of intimidating public well being officers.
“Not solely did they protest the general public well being measures however they then employed ways to bully and intimidate individuals,” Pan instructed CBS Information’ Sacramento affiliate KOVR 13.
Native information experiences in California have raised alarms concerning the teams’ ties to extremist and far-right teams—such because the Proud Boys. They’ve additionally accused the group of being against vaccines and prompt that one of many group’s founders, Denise Agiular, was related to the rebel concentrating on the U.S. Capitol.
In a press release emailed to Newsweek, the group disputed these characterizations.
“To be clear: we aren’t a militia, we’re a bunch of girls studying expertise to be self-sufficient,” the assertion learn, regardless of the group going by the title “Mamalitia.”
The group went on to say that it is “false” to recommend that they’re “anti-vaccine” or “concerned in politics.”
“Our members come from all walks of life together with households that do vaccinate however assist a lady’s proper to decide on. Mamalitia can also be apolitical. We’ve got by no means participated in a protest nor have we had any involvement with political points,” the assertion continued.
The group identified that the Structure permits for Individuals to personal and use weapons, saying that the ladies collect to deal with “meals storage, map studying, homeschooling, and survival expertise.”
Regardless of the group’s assertion, Aguilar did reward the Proud Boys, which has been described as a far-right extremist group by the Southern Poverty Legislation Heart, throughout a November demonstration on the State Capitol, in keeping with the Sacramento Bee.
“Thanks to the Proud Boys,” Aguilar reportedly instructed a crowd of demonstrators on the time. “I’ve labored with them. I do know them. I like them. I belief them. And I belief them a lot that they are right here defending you. And thanks to the California militia guys out right here as properly.”
Aguilar was additionally reportedly in Washington, D.C. on January 6 when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s election win. However there isn’t any proof that Aguilar entered or tried to enter the Capitol. Proud Boys’ members had been staunchly pro-Trump and threatened violence if he didn’t stay in workplace.
Final summer season, when members of the group protested exterior of public well being officers’ properties, Heidi Muñoz Gleisner, who co-founded the Freedom Angels with Aguilar, disputed the characterization of their actions as intimidation. She identified that they went with their kids and drew on sidewalks with chalk.
“Mommies with kids and sidewalk chalk are intimidating?” Muñoz Gleisner requested in an electronic mail final June, The Los Angeles Instances reported.
However Dr. Richard Carpiano, a professor of public coverage and sociology on the College of California, Riverside, raised considerations concerning the group in an interview with KOVR 13.
“If you’re displaying photos of you with weapons, you’re promoting providers to coach individuals in firearms. There is not any cause in anyway to assume they are not pushing some extremist view,” Carpiano stated.