Anti-vaxxers protested outside the home of a top Ontario doctor in their latest stunt
Anti-vaxxer protesters have been turning up the heat in their misguided crusade against science and reason during December, taking their fight to the front doors of public figures.
After high-profile, low-turnout protests at the Toronto homes of Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier/Minister of Health Christine Elliott, the band of Covidiots took their travelling disturbance to the doorstep of Niagara Region's acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, on Tuesday evening.
The crowd of about a dozen used all the familiar tactics seen at other front-door protests this month, shouting into megaphones, clanging bells, pots, and pans, and flashing lights at windows of the doctor's home in an affluent Niagara neighbourhood.
Rob Primo (Primerano) appears to have led a roving band of #antivaxxers to the doorstep of Dr. Hirji, Acting MOH for #Niagara.— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer + Political Commentator (@CarymaRules) December 22, 2021
In what could be a scene from The Purge, they showed up after dark & shone strobe lights.
One lady jokes that at least Christine Elliott was home. pic.twitter.com/QpYU741EXm
What set Tuesday's protest apart was the response, or lack thereof, from the local police force, with one officer of the Niagara Regional Police even recorded voicing support for the protesters.
An interesting exchange between Primerano & @NiagRegPolice:— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer + Political Commentator (@CarymaRules) December 22, 2021
The officer says, “Why don’t you come back during the day? Right now, people are getting pissed off.”
Primerano retorts, “WE’RE getting pissed off.”
To which the cop replies, “I get it. I’m glad you’re protesting.” pic.twitter.com/nLmaJEtRPY
Like the protests in Toronto, demonstrators were met with warnings of tickets and arrests for disturbing the peace, but it is currently unknown if anyone ended up on the wrong side of the law due to the scene on Tuesday.
.@NiagRegPolice explains that charges can be laid if noise is deemed unreasonable, and a judge makes the final determination.— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer + Political Commentator (@CarymaRules) December 22, 2021
The officer suggests the group stops using megaphones— they can just yell instead.
Primerano wanders off undeterred, shouting into a megaphone. pic.twitter.com/XMZgbPRmF6
The raucous yet underwhelming demonstration was apparently organized by Rob Primo (real name Primerano), a former hanger-on of anti-vax bro Chris Sky who has begun to build up his own following.
According to lawyer and staunch critic of the anti-vax movement, Caryma S'ad, Primo "promotes and attends various anti-vax events, including the 'Back the Blue' rally in London and the recent protest outside the Scotiabank Arena mass vaccination clinic."
S'ad says that Primo has been a thorn in Dr. Hirji's side for months, the activist claiming "to have been silenced at public meetings for 'asking questions.'"
While Primo has claimed that he was not the protest organizer, S'ad argues "it's clear from the video that some of the protesters were also outside Christine Elliott's home, and I would wager some were at Doug Ford’s home too."
This is not the first time Hirji has faced harassment over simply doing his job, and both St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik and Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley were quick to condemn the protest and speak out in support of the region's top doctor.
It is disturbing to see the threatening behaviour towards Niagara’s Medical Officer of Health, @mustafahirji at his home. This growing trend of protesting at public official’s private homes needs to stop. 1/2— Walter Sendzik (@WSendzik) December 22, 2021
"I am both frustrated and saddened that yet again we are witnessing the harassment of Dr. Hirji by a small group of people," reads a statement from Bradley, who goes on to say that "demonstrations at an individual's private residence are completely unacceptable and reprehensible."
Caryma S'ad says Tuesday night's scene was "particularly troubling," as the doctor was appointed and not elected, arguing that "while that isn't an impenetrable shield from criticism, it does raise further questions about the propriety of protesting outside his private residence."
S'ad is also troubled by the police response, saying she was taken aback by how some officers chose to address the situation by expressing what sounded like support and sympathy for protesters, and directing them to simply come back to protest during the day.
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