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Protesters rally against COVID-19 restrictions (updated, 9 photos, video)

Protest comes despite police, health unit warnings not to gather

A group of at least 100 people gathered to peacefully protest COVID-19 restrictions at the northeast corner of Bellevue Park Friday.

While there did not appear to be an official spokesperson for the group, several speakers took to a megaphone and made it clear they have had enough after 13 months of COVID-19 restrictions, stating they were joining in solidarity with other such protests which have taken place across Canada and around the world.

“We need to come together and we need to stick together,” said one speaker.

“This is not an anti-masker movement. This is not an anti-vaccine movement... it’s about freedom, to choose whether or not you want to wear a mask, whether or not you want to send your kids to school with masks on, whether or not you want to inject yourself with experimental injections.”

“Lockdowns... are extremely damaging. They’re destroying livelihoods, they’re destroying small businesses,” he said, as citizens wearing protest T-shirts and holding signs stood and voiced their disapproval with the continued lockdowns.

A woman who identified herself as a personal support worker (PSW) said, “I’m not going to remain silent anymore.”

She denied hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

“No they’re not,” she stated flatly, adding that some deaths have been classified wrongly by medical authorities as COVID-19 deaths.

“Yes, the virus does exist. I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist. People are getting sick from it. People are dying.”

However, she said “they’ve exaggerated this virus,” adding the COVID-19 restrictions are violating the Canadian Bill of Rights.

The woman said she and 20 of her fellow healthcare workers have resigned over COVID-19 measures, stating the measures taken against the virus by government and public health authorities are an overreaction.

“This vaccine is killing people, it’s harming people, whether it be the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Moderna, Pfizer,” she continued.

“If we do not take these masks off and start rolling our economy back, we’re in big, big trouble,” said another speaker who identified himself as a Canadian Forces veteran.

Neither the PSW or the veteran would speak to SooToday when asked for further comment.

A banner including logos of several organizations was clearly visible, those groups including Canada Rising Up, Liberty Coalition Canada, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, Canadian Frontline Nurses and World Freedom Alliance.   

The message ‘Open Your Business’ was seen on the banner.

Honks of support came from some motorists who drove past the park.

The rally took place despite warnings from the Sault Ste. Police Service and Algoma Public Health (APH) not to gather for the event.

One Sault Ste. Marie Police Service vehicle and one officer were seen at the corner of Queen Street East and Lake Street, the entrance and exit to Bellevue Park blocked to vehicular traffic for the duration of the event.

The rally began at 12 p.m. and lasted for just over one hour.