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As Texas gets ready to lift the mandatory mask mandate on March 10, food and bar workers gathered at the Texas Capitol to express their frustration with the lack of COVID-19 precautions without adequate access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The event, which began at 1 p.m. on Monday, was hosted by the Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, Restaurant Organizing Project and The Amplified Sound Coalition.

Gina Dvorak and another Restaurant Organizing Project member set up by putting up a sign which reads, "We Won't Die to Serve You. 70% before 100%." Organizers of the protest believe that the population should be at least 70% vaccinated before opening Texas 100% back up.

Christa McWhirter

Crystal Maher, a member of the Restaurant Organizing Project, stands in front of the Texas Capitol to express to other protesters in attendance how not being eligible for a vaccine has impacted her ability to safely keep her job.

The event hosted around 50 people, most of whom are also restaurant and bar workers facing the difficulties of working during the pandemic.

Christa McWhirter

​Kiara Collins, Eric Santos and Taylor Escamilla are all essential workers who have been questioning their safety in their workplace. As many of the other protesters, the three wore masks with the word "Expendable" on it. According to Collins, they were only given to essential workers in attendance to represent how they have been treated since the onset of COVID-19.

Christa McWhirter

As Maher continues to introduce speakers, two essential workers who came out to support the protest, record as counter-protesters heckled the event's speakers.

Christa McWhirter

Some of the counter-protesters in attendance were live streamers from InfoWars, an extremist organization, who heckled speakers until the rally dispersed.

Christa McWhirter

A representative of the Del Valle Community Coalition spoke about the impact the lack of vaccine access has had on the Del Valle area. As she attempted to give her speech, anti-masking protesters yelled at her causing many people to attempt to block them out.

Christa McWhirter

Protesters blocked the way of anti-mask counter protesters as they heckled the event's speakers and held "My Body My Choice" signs. "It's kind of insane how they're using 'my body, my choice.' It doesn't only affect you. So it's not just your body," Taylor Escamilla said.

Christa McWhirter

Jeanette Gregor, cofounder of Amplified Sound Coalition, also had to fend off counter-protesters as she gave an impassioned speech about the danger essential workers place themselves in by going to work and have yet to qualify for COVID-19 vaccine.

Christa McWhirter

Around 2 p.m., State Troopers began to arrive at the Capitol amid heightening tensions from protesters and counter-protesters. As police presence began to increase, the event came to end about 15 minutes later. Despite the constant back and forth between sides and the arrival of law enforcement, the protest came to end peacefully.

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(Pexels)

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