An individual protesting ongoing COVID-19 restrictions was reportedly ‘beat up’ in a random attack that happened during a demonstration early Sunday afternoon.
Eyewitnesses tell SooToday that a group of about a dozen people were outside the Station Mall facing the boardwalk and holding up signage when they were confronted by a cyclist.
“The guy stopped on his bike and was arguing with one of our people, and he jumped off his bike and started pushing and punching the gentleman from our party,” said protester Tabitha McCarl. “They were rolling around on the ground.”
“He’s got cuts on his face, his lip inside is bleeding. His mouth is bleeding. They were right on the ground.”
Another eyewitness, who asked to remain anonymous, tells SooToday that a ‘kid’ rode by the protest on his bicycle and flicked a cigarette at a protestor who was seated on a curb before circling back and grabbing the sign of another protester.
“The first thing I heard him say was, ‘you guys want to f*** with me?’ That was it. The next thing you know, the two were going at it,” the eyewitness said, adding that the assailant had the protester in a headlock, feeding him punches during the altercation. “He bloodied the guy up pretty good.”
The eyewitnesses say that members of Sault Ste. Marie Police Service arrived within minutes of the incident, subsequently taking down names and contact numbers of people attending Sunday’s protest.
“Everything, everything that’s happening,” McCarl said, when asked by SooToday what people outside the Station Mall were protesting against. “All of our businesses are dying, people being forced to wear masks, even though there are exemptions. These lockdowns, curfews. Telling people to stay at home. Blocking off items that are essential to some people.”
The anonymous eyewitness tells SooToday that he doesn’t understand why Sunday’s protest was met with hostility.
“I believe our rights are being violated,” he said. “This is actually the first time this year that we got together as a group and protested. We’re social distancing, we’re not in each other’s faces or anything like that.”
“It’s just crazy. You know, there are people going by and giving the finger.”
Sault Ste. Marie Police Service spokesperson Lincoln Louttit confirmed that an altercation took place at Sunday's protest, but no charges are being laid as a result of the incident.
The protestors were 'educated' by police after it was determined that Sunday's protest had exceeded province-wide gathering limits.
"The people that had gathered to protest the lockdown were educated, and they ended up dispersing," Louttit said.