MORONI, Utah (ABC4) – Gathered with a large group of like-minded individuals in a field on private property, Eric Moutsos began recording a Facebook live video of an event that he and some friends had conceived, dubbed the “Night of Liberty.”
A night of music, speeches, and patriotic anthems was highlighted by the marquee attraction; the burning of a giant effigy in the shape of a vaccine syringe. As the giant symbol of “Medical Tyranny,” or so the side of the syringe read, burned, many of those in attendance cheered and recorded on their phones as music continued in the background.
Due to Sanpete County’s open burn laws, there was no need for a permit, although a fire truck was standing by, just in case. The Moroni Police Department was aware of the event, but told ABC4 that they did not send a presence. By all accounts, it was a peaceful event for those in attendance.
After the Night of Liberty, which took place on May 1, social media began to react in a fashion that anyone active on a social platform these days would expect. Comments on Moutsos’ upload of the video ranged from “Moron-i, huh? Couldn’t have found a better place!” to “So proud to be part of the Night of Liberty…..what a crowd! Thank you Eric for all you do! 💖💖💖💖💖💖💖”
News of the burning reached the top of Utah’s leadership as well. The syringe was mentioned in a question about educating people who are against vaccines in Governor Spencer J. Cox’s weekly COVID-19 briefing on Thursday.
While Cox didn’t refer to the burning in his response, he replied by saying that those who are concerned should reach out to their doctor or to the medical community for answers on the vaccine, and not rely on information found on Facebook or other social media platforms.
“There are people who will never get the vaccine, and we understand that. We’re not going to make them get the vaccine,” Cox continued.
A growing voice among conservative Utahns, Moutsos, who is a former Salt Lake City police officer, is one of those people telling ABC4 that he has chosen not to get the vaccine and will not have his children vaccinated until they can choose to do so for themselves.
That said, Moutsos states that he is not an “anti-vaxxer.” He says that vaccines for diseases such as polio and smallpox are important, but in the case of COVID-19, he has been dismayed by what he calls a “power grab” by the government, media, and the medical community.
“I’m more of anti-idea, that the government and the media and celebrities are shaming those who don’t get the vaccine. Like, you can’t even go into some businesses now. That’s so dangerous because that’s how governments control people. And that’s not what America is. That’s not why America was built, we were built for freedom and liberty and choice,” Moutsos tells ABC4.
Holding the burning at the Night of Liberty was a symbolic gesture, he says. A strong believer in Christianity and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Moutsos feels the burning was almost biblical in its approach but also says he doesn’t necessarily like doing events like these.
“As a society, we turn to a kind of a false god idol, that that’s what’s going to save us, when really it might be doing way more damage than anyone knows,” he says when explaining the motivation behind the burning of a syringe-shaped effigy made of wood.
Above all, Moutsos is worried that those who choose not to be vaccinated will be labeled and ostracized by those who do get the vaccine.
“There’s a lot of people in fear that they’re going to be shamed, that they don’t love people because they don’t want to get the vaccines. And, and I just think that’s an incredibly dangerous way to go about it it’s just another way to divide us. You know, especially your medical, like your medical stuff should be private,” expresses Moutsos.