Aylmer residents fight back against Church of God with roadside protest
LONDON, ONT. -- Tensions continue to rise in Aylmer, Ont. as local residents are taking a stand against the Church of God (COG) and its philosophies.
Dozens of cars filled with protestors lined John St. North in the southwestern Ontario town Sunday morning.
"We are protesting the lack of responsibility in regards to the health measures that the COG and friends are unwilling to take," says Anastasia Gelinas, one of the organizers of the protest.
"They all get together every week without masks and not social distancing, and the negative press is affecting the residents."
Among those in line was Kyle Tomlin. He is an Aylmer home-care PSW
It's more awareness. we've had issues with them getting away with a lot," says Tomlin, referring to the congregants of COG.
"We aren’t intimidating, we aren't here to cause issues."
Last week police were on scene and handed a ticket to Herbert Hildebrandt for violating the Reopening Ontario Act for a gathering exceeding the permitted limit.
"Today they are in their vehicles, but that's not normal," says Tomlin.
"They are always out of their vehicles walking around. We want police to pay attention and say we have to stop this."
Police officers were patrolling the area Sunday morning, and did intervene when a single protester walked onto church property. It nearly caused an altercation.
During pastor Henry Hildebrandt's service he took shots at elected officials who have left the country, while telling others to stay on lock down. He also acknowledged those along the road.
"Thank you for all beside the road," says Hildebrandt.
"We were told in the spring that we weren't supposed to be there (along the road) because it's too dangerous. I know we have a major double standard here and the local police don't know what to do with it. Whatever you do, stay safe."
The protesters say the freedom rallies, and COG is giving their hometown a bad name, and disrupting their lives.
"I've been quizzed when I had a hospital appointment," says Gelinas.
"They debated whether they would see me because Aylmer was such high numbers at the time. It's affecting everyone."
Tomlin is on the front lines in healthcare. He says the pandemic has been stressful and tiring. He's frustrated at the misinformation being spread.
"It's fatigue, that's the best way to describe it," says Tomlin.
"Every day you think it gets better and it’s not. Friends and loved ones passing away. Everyone should come together as humans and we're divided. In my profession its taxing."
The protesters say they'll be here again next week. So will the congregants.