Tennessee woman arrested for speeding through COVID-19 vaccination tent in protest, authorities say

Blount County Sheriff’s Office

(MARYVILLE, Tenn.) — A Tennessee woman was arrested this week after authorities say she drove her SUV through a COVID-19 vaccination tent, nearly hitting several people while yelling “no vaccine.”

Virginia Christine Lewis Brown, 36, of Greenback, has been charged with seven felony counts of reckless endangerment. She was released on bonds totalling $21,000 and has an initial court appearance set for June 7, according to the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. It was unclear whether she had obtained an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

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.

“I have worked at this location multiple times over the past few months and the area is clearly marked with signs and cones to advise the public of the event,” one deputy wrote. “The driving behavior of Ms. Brown, as she approached the tent and exited the tent towards the waiting area, caught my attention due to how quickly the vehicle was traveling through the area.”

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.

“While traveling to the jail, Ms. Brown made several statements about wanting to protest the vaccine,” the deputy wrote in the incident report. “Ms. Brown stated she was driving through the course and once she got to the tent she told the personnel working she was not there for the vaccine.”

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