Anti-lockdown protest in Strathroy, Ont. ends with verbal warning from police
STRATHROY, ONT. -- Two dozen demonstrators, including adults and small children, held a short but noisy protest and march in Strathroy, Ont. on Thursday over COVID-19 lockdown measures.
The group gathered at the Food Basics in the town’s business section, and made the short trek on foot and in the cold rain through the downtown, ending up at the town hall.
Along the way, a small convoy of vehicles followed alongside those on foot, honking and attracting the attention of shop owners, many of whom stepped out of their storefronts to see what all the fuss was about.
The protest took place in spite of warnings from Strathroy-Caradoc Police that tickets would be issued for those who contravened the provincial stay-at-home order.
Protestor Shirley Graham said taking part in the rally was worth the risk.
“Because I don’t believe all the stuff. I believe there’s a virus, but I don’t believe it’s as deadly as what they’re telling us.”
The protest came as the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported 151 new COVID-19 cases Thursday - the third highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic. To date, there have been 193 COVID-19 deaths in the region.
When the march reached town hall, a Strathroy-Caradoc police officer calmly walked up to the crowd, asking them to disperse.
“I respect the right for people to protest, because they have that right,” said the officer. “However, with the lockdown that we have right now (...) people aren’t, unfortunately allowed to protest.” Some members of the crowd attempted to engage the officer in an argument over constitutions rights.
The altercation ended with the officer offering protestors a ten minute warning to disperse, before issuing tickets. Within moments the crowd broke up and the protest came to an end.
One of the protest organizers, Steve Hudson, says they’re fighting for their rights.
“Our rights are being stripped away. We have these lockdowns that are unconstitutional. We can go out and play golf, we can go to Costco, but we can’t sit here and protest based on our Charter of Rights.”
Local business owner, Jeff Calcutt of Downtown Sound Again, watched as the noisy march passed by his storefront. He said he’s not so sure the protest helped anyone.
“I see their point, but I also want to get this over with so that we can get back to somewhat normal.”
The protestors say they plan to do it all over again Saturday morning.