The incident in question occurred Monday morning at a COVID-19 vaccination tent set up in the parking lot of the Foothills Mall in Maryville, a suburb of Knoxville. According to an incident report, two deputies from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said they were at the location when they saw a blue Chrysler SUV speed through a cone course, past the check-in area and then through the tent, where several health workers and National Guard personnel were preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccines. The vehicle did not stop and was traveling at a “high rate of speed,” deputies wrote in the incident report.
The workers inside the tent ran over to the deputies, telling them what had just happened. They said they heard the driver shout “no vaccine” as she plowed through the tent and that she narrowly missed seven of the workers. Several workers told the deputies that they thought the driver was going to kill them, according to the incident report.
One of the deputies went after the vehicle and pulled it over. Brown allegedly told the deputy that she was driving through the tent to protest the vaccine and that she was only going 5 miles per hour. The deputy took Brown into custody without incident and transported her to the Blount County Jail, according to the incident report.
Brown, 36, was arrested for driving through a vaccination tent and “placing the lives of seven workers in danger,” the Blount County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday. She’s been charged with seven counts of felony reckless endangerment. Tennessee attorneys claim each count carries penalties that include a possible prison sentence of 1 to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
This week’s incident occurred as demonstrations from anti-vaccine protesters have unfolded nationwide despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding that the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are effective in preventing infections. Demonstrations have popped up in vaccination sites such as high schools and racing tracks in recent months, and anti-vaccine protesters temporarily shut down Dodger Stadium after maskless people blocked the entrance to one of the country’s largest sites.
Although the number of U.S. coronavirus cases on Wednesday was the lowest in roughly a year, only about 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to a Washington Post database. In Tennessee, more than 31 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, ranking the state among the lowest in the nation.