Robert Kennedy Jr. To Speak At Conspiracy Theorist Vaccine Mandate Protest

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is set to be guest speaker at a conspiracy theory-linked COVID-19 vaccine protest in Washington, D.C.

Kennedy, son of former senator Bobby Kennedy and nephew of the former president John F. Kennedy, is scheduled to speak at "Defeat the Mandates" rally in D.C. on January 23.

The Defeat the Mandates demonstration aims to protest against "forcing vaccinations on Americans" and other COVID-related restrictions.

The protest is set to coincide with a "World Wide Rally for Freedom" rally in D.C., a coordinated international anti-vaccine protest movement with ties to conspiracy theory and QAnon groups.

It is reported that tens of thousands of people have expressed an interest in attending the protest in D.C., although it is unclear if anywhere near this number will attend.

As noted by Will Carless, who covers extremism for USA Today, many other anti-vaccine protests which claim will be highly attended "fizzle into nothing," but warned the rally on January 23 feels like it's "going to be a moment."

Carless tweeted: "Planners are claiming tens of thousands of people are gonna show up.

"But they always do that, and for the last year similar events have attracted a few dozen at most. But this event has backing from some pretty big names."

In December 2020, the Associated Press reported how Kennedy has become an influential figure in the anti-vaccine movement and how his non-profit Children's Health Defense saw revenue more than double to $6.8 million during the pandemic.

The AP notes that Kennedy "became fixated" on a belief that vaccines are not safe more than 15 years ago, and has often touted the highly disputed claim that there is a link between vaccines and autism.

Kennedy also recently releasing a book entitled The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health.

One of the sections of the book is called "Final Solution: Vaccines or Bust." In an interview with Gawker, Kennedy denied the title is anti-Semitic or is trying to make ties to the Holocaust.

"I don't think the vaccines have anything to do with eradicating the Jews," said Kennedy.

Dr Richard Allen Williams, cardiologist and founder of the Minority Health Institute, said Kennedy was leading "a propaganda movement" and "absolutely a racist operation" which aims to target misinformation towards groups that may be more prone to distrust the vaccine, including mothers and Black Americans.

"He's really the ringleader of the misinformation campaign," Williams, who has written a number of books about race and medicine, told AP. "So many people, even those in scientific circles, don't realize what Kennedy is doing."

In a statement to Newsweek about the Defeat the Mandates protest, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department said: "As with all First Amendment demonstrations, MPD will be monitoring and assessing the planned activity with our local and federal law enforcement partners.

"MPD members will have a visible presence around the city during this time. MPD encourages the public to remain vigilant, if you see something, say something."

In a press release, Kennedy's charity named comedian and podcast host Joe Rogan as being among the speakers at the rally, a fact reported by Newsweek in an earlier version of this story.

However, a spokesperson for Kennedy later confirmed to Newsweek that this was not the case, and the podcast host will not be attending the event.

Rogan's now dismissed reported appearance at the vaccine protest arrived as 270 doctors, scientists, professors and healthcare workers penned an open letter to Spotify criticizing it for allowing "baseless conspiracy theories" to be promoted on his show.

The letter condemned The Joe Rogan Experience for repeatedly "spreading misleading and false claims" about COVID-19 and vaccines, including Rogan saying mRNA vaccines are "gene therapy," and promoting taking ivermectin to treat COVID-19 against Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

The professionals also condemned Rogan for interviewing Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist involved in early mRNA technology research, who was banned from Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, on his December 31 show.

During his appearance, Malone—who is also listed as a guest speaker at the January 23 protest and promoted the event on the podcast—claimed that people have been "hypnotized" into believing what Dr. Anthony Fauci says about the virus, and compared the situation to how the Nazis rose to power in Germany.

"By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals," the letter said.

"This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform."

Rogan has frequently said that he feels doesn't need to be vaccinated as he has natural immunity after contracting COVID-19 last August.

Correction 01/14/2022: This article and headline previously named Joe Rogan as one of the speakers at the Defeat the Mandates protest.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. vaccine
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, speaks to people from a wide spectrum, including coronavirus skeptics, conspiracy enthusiasts, right-wing extremists, religious conservatives, hippies and others gathered under the Victory Column in the city center to hear speeches during a protest against coronavirus-related restrictions and government policy on August 29, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images