Militant Anti-Vaccination Activists Make Headlines, Face Criminal Charges – Lawmakers Seek Restraining Orders

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By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – A lobbyist or big money donor is one thing. But state legislators here inside the Capitol Dome have apparently had it when it comes to anti-vaccination advocates, who now find themselves with multiple court dates in criminal court.

In fact, in addition to criminal charges lodged against three activists, at least two lawmakers over the past few months have filed for civil restraining orders to keep those particular constituents away from them.

Campaign contributors with fistfuls of money may be welcome by politicos, but those who, as lawmakers claim, stalk them, threaten or yell and toss things – like blood – from the gallery overlooking the floor of the Senate are quite another.

As the VANGUARD reported about a month ago, State Senator Jim Beall (D-Campbell) filed for an injunction seeking to deny the militant speech of an activist, in part because of political slogans on the guy’s umbrella.

Anti-vaccination advocate Mike Mattingly won that round, successfully arguing his free speech was more important than Beall’s fear. In the end, Judge Philip Stanger denied Beall’s request for an injunction.

This week, Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) succeeded where Beall failed – he did get a restraining order from Sacramento Superior Court against activist Kenneth Bennett, who is now barred from coming within a football length’s distance from the lawmaker, his Capitol and District offices, home and car.

Pan is target number one for those opposed to increasingly stringent laws requiring vaccinations for school-age children – Pan not only supports state laws making it more difficult for parents to get exemptions for their kids to avoid the vaccinations but he is the author of that legislation. And he makes appearances nationwide urging stiffer laws mandating vaccinations.

But protests can result in criminal charges.

Bennett faces a misdemeanor battery charge at his February court date.

Pan has said Bennett’s “unlawful violence…caused me to suffer substantial emotional distress as I am extremely fearful for my safety.”

It is unclear yet if Pan will be a witness in Bennett’s trial.

Bennett followed Pan and another lawmaker when they were headed to a function in downtown Sacramento, and used his cellphone to video them and then pushed or shoved Pan. Bennett was arrested for battery.

And Sen. Beall’s nemesis – Mattingly – faces a January court date for misdemeanor resisting arrest when he and six others were jailed at a Capitol protest.

Charges were not filed against the other protestors – three blocked entry to the south side of the building, and three others barricaded the parking garage entrance to the Capitol. But Mattingly wasn’t as lucky.

No injuries or property damage were reported, and those arrested engaged in non-violent civil disobedience, said protest organizers, who charged lawmakers had “failed us” in passing legislation that imposes new, more stringent guidelines for parents wishing to exempt their children from vaccines.

Mattingly said that he wasn’t surprised that he alone was charged for the September action, and that it was not a coincidence – maybe because he’s already had a “run-in” with the state senator, and won, in civil court.

Mattingly, though, took it in stride, and said he welcomed “another chance to win in court.”

Beall actually sought a restraining order against Mattingly back in September, claiming that the activist was “aggressive” and insisted on talking with him about the vaccination issue, as well as water fluoridation, at public events.

Beall said that he feared the speech of Mattingly, who also, in addition to questions for the lawmaker, displayed anti-vaccination brochures and an umbrella with slogans on it.

The state lawmaker cited a river clean-up and senior event as two examples of where Mattingly, who participated in the public events, asked Beall and staff questions.

“As a result of these incidents in which Mattingly has committed unlawful (acts), and because Mattingly has made several statements that he will continue to seek me out, I have suffered substantial emotional distress and I am extremely fearful for my safety,” said Beall in his court declaration.

In civil court, Mattingly said he “showed the collusion between police and Beall” and said he believed it “was harassment…simply because I was there…they said I was in his space, but there was a table between us at the river cleanup, and when I talked to him from the senate balcony, I couldn’t invade his personal space (Beall was below on the senate floor).”

“This was weakest thing I had ever heard of…that a sitting Senator would file a restraining order against a constituent because he doesn’t like the constituent’s political speech,” Mattingly said.

Finally, a third anti-vaccination activist reportedly has a January court date on criminal charges related to throwing blood in a menstrual cup at senators – including Pan – below her on the senate floor. Oddly, a check of court records Thursday found no record of that protestor, Rebecca Dalelio, on upcoming court calendars.

Pan has told news media he welcomes visits by people with questions or concerns about any legislation, even vaccinations, but doesn’t support what he calls “violence.”

“If we make policy based on conspiracy theories, that’s not good for our country. That’s not good for society. Policy needs to be grounded in truth,” Pan said. “We need to be clear: bullying and intimidation of this kind is unacceptable.”


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21 thoughts on “Militant Anti-Vaccination Activists Make Headlines, Face Criminal Charges – Lawmakers Seek Restraining Orders”

  1. John Hobbs

    Anti-Vaxxers are a clear and present danger and should be arrested as domestic terrorists, given the option to renounce their idiocy or be confined to Guantanamo prison.  If parents, their children should be immediately taken by CPS appropriately inoculated  and placed in a responsible setting.

    1. Eric Gelber

      Sure. And, while we’re at it, let’s lock up all the climate change deniers, gun advocates, cigarette company executives, and anyone else we believe take positions that pose a threat to health and safety. Welcome to 1984.

    2. Bill Marshall

      I have a different take, John…

      The anti-vaxxers should be allowed their personal freedom/beliefs… apart from the rest of society… their children can be schooled at home.  Un-vaccinated adults can pick employers, shopping, etc.that let them work/buy from home, and watch sporting events on TV… just spare the rest of us the contagion.

      Logical consequences… parents and children of the anti-vaxx set should not receive medical attention (insured or not… drives up insurance rates if the rest of us pay…) for preventable diseases that could be avoided by vaccinations… there is a very small cohort, that have TRULY medical considerations in play, who should be exempt… VERY SMALL COHORT… but not those who are prone to unsubstantiated paranoia…

      For legitimate medical reasons, no problem… the ‘herd immunity’ will be in play. But…

      1. John Hobbs

        “The anti-vaxxers should be allowed their personal freedom/beliefs”

        Absolutely but not the practice when they inflict predictable and potentially devastating harm to the reasonable.

      2. Eric Gelber

        Withhold medical attention from children? Seriously? Should we also withhold medical attention from smokers, drug addicts, sky divers, speeders, and non-condom users with STDs?

        1. John Hobbs

          Tia, how would you insure their exclusion from public venues to “spare the rest of us the contagion.?” I may be wrong here, but I’m pretty sure the 90% vaccination rate needed for “herd immunity” lapsed in California some time ago. I know that a bay area kindergarten was found to have less than 50% coverage.

      3. John Hobbs

        ” their children can be schooled at home.”

        Super high correlation between homeschooling child neglect/abuse and incest, not to mention medieval cultural beliefs, practices and superstitions.

  2. John Hobbs

    “Where is the vaxx free school?” The Ukraine and Equatorial Guinea. The rest of the world is racing to achieve higher rates of protection. Bangladesh has a very high rate of vaccination.

  3. Ron Oertel

    So, if one is worried about the “non-vaxxers” infecting the herd, wouldn’t vaccinating their own kids take care of that concern? Isn’t that what vaccines are for?

    Why the concern, regarding those who don’t believe in it? And, how are they risking those who have been vaccinated?

    1. John Hobbs

      ” “non-vaxxers” infecting the herd, wouldn’t vaccinating their own kids take care of that concern?”

      No Dr. Ron, because the “herd” is not nearly as big as you think, since anti-vaxx terrorists like A Voice For Choice started their ignorance blitz. Then there’s the opportunity long forgotten illnesses like polio and small pox have to mutate in this new culture and come back to the herd even stronger than ever.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Don’t vaccines provide “herd immunity” for those who partake in it?

      And, how are they (those who haven’t been vaccinated due to their beliefs) risking those who have been vaccinated?

      Or, is the concern that parents are risking their own children (similar to what some religions advocate, regarding refusal of medical treatment)? Frankly, I’ve got better things to do than to interfere with those folks. Count me as a “non-do-gooder” in that case, if you’d like.

      1. Tia Will

        Ron

        These are good questions. Hopefully, as an MD and strong advocate for vaccination, I can help answer them.

        Don’t vaccines provide “herd immunity” for those who partake in it?”

        No. Herd immunity is a statistical, not individual means of protection. The expression “herd” immunity means that enough members of the group are immune that any susceptible individual is less likely to encounter a contagious individual. Most estimates are that it takes immunization of at least 90% of a population for herd immunity to be protective.

        “..how are they (those who haven’t been vaccinated due to their beliefs) risking those who have been vaccinated?”

        They are putting others at risk because of the nature of contagious diseases. Many transmissible diseases can be passed from person to person before either exhibit any symptoms. So an unimmunized individual is carrying the flu. He goes to a packed venue, let’s say a Kings game and passes the virus to 10 other people. The immunized are protected, but those who are not ( or more importantly cannot be immunized are now at risk).  Pregnant women, infants, and anyone with decreased immune function for any reason may not be eligible for the immunization and thus are placed at increased risk by those who refuse to immunize. Now, these 10 people go out and live their lives, unknowingly passing the viruses to others. This is the way epidemics start and spread.

        is the concern that parents are risking their own children”

        No. The specific concern about children not being immunized is that they put other people’s children at risk. Children are a special demographic group because children are likely to be in households with younger sibs. In any kindergarten class, there are likely to be several children who have sibs < 1 year old in their home. These infants cannot be immunized and thus are put at risk by exposure to the virus and are amongst the groups likely to have severe disease due to their immature immune systems.

        I am happy to address any additional questions you might have about vaccines/immunization.

      2. Bill Marshall

        Don’t vaccines provide “herd immunity” for those who partake in it?

        And, how are they (those who haven’t been vaccinated due to their beliefs) risking those who have been vaccinated?

        No… not necessarily… some folks’ immune systems are not ‘engaged’ even when vaccinated… Tia and Robert also deals with this…

        But, more importantly, some individuals cannot be safely vaccinated… for valid (not spurious) reasons…

        Vaccination rates have to be ~ 95% for the herd to be protected.

        I go with “pro-choice” on this… if you choose not to have your kids vaccinated, for non-medical reasons, your choice… just stay away from others and deal with your choices.  Logical consequences.

         

         

        1. John Hobbs

          “I go with “pro-choice” on this… if you choose not to have your kids vaccinated, for non-medical reasons, your choice… just stay away from others and deal with your choices.”

          But countless examples show that they won’t stay away from others. They are by their nature irresponsible, committed and insipid.

  4. Robert Canning

    Herd immunity is provided when over 90% of a population is vaccinated. Herd immunity only works for diseases with direct transmission – measles, tuberculosis, etc. It does not work for diseases like tetanus where transmission is not by exposure to an infected individual. There are a certain number of people who cannot be vaccinated – people with compromised immune function, children whose immune system has not developed yet. These individuals are protected by herd immunity – they don’t come into contact with individuals who are infected or carrying. Here is a great explanation with examples: https://www.ovg.ox.ac.uk/news/herd-immunity-how-does-it-work

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