Anti-vaxxers protested a Toronto vaccine clinic for kids and things got ugly
People just trying to do what's right for their kids had to contend with a ragtag band of anti-vax protesters this weekend, the small but vocal group setting up outside of Scotiabank Arena on Sunday to harass parents and children attending a mass vaccination clinic.
The small crowd assembled at the intersection of York and Bremner, confronting parents with small children attending the one-day-only, superhero-themed Toronto Kids Vaccine Day at Scotiabank Arena, part of a push to vaccinate five- to 11-year-olds.
Good morning Toronto! It's a chilly Sunday morning but I'm outside @ScotiabankArena where I'm covering a demonstration by #antivaxxers against the vaccination clinic in the arena. About 25 demonstrators present so far. #cdnpoli #Toronto #onpoli pic.twitter.com/30B4LsIMBe— Kosalan Kathir (@kokopuff16) December 12, 2021
The hilarious Bill Gates vaccine conspiracy (some fringe groups ACTUALLY believe vaccines contain tracking chips) even got some airplay, all as protesters live-streamed the events from their smartphones that contain actual GPS locating devices.
The protest was reportedly organized by anti-vax activist Vladislav Sobolev, who has a long history of protesting against public health measures.
Lawyer and critic of the anti-vax movement Caryma S'ad says that this is par for the course for Sobolev, who "appears to be regurgitating talking points associated with the sovereign citizenship movement, and encouraging his followers to take similar actions locally."
According to S'ad, some of his stances include calling "for elected officials and other authority figures to be charged with second-degree murder when (he assumes 'when') children start dying from vaccines," underlining that this is especially "concerning language."
S'ad also notes the irony of "people who promote refusing to disclose vaccination status based on 'privacy' reasons attempting to photograph parents and children outside the pop-up clinic."
— Johnny “Chris” Fondue (@EatsFood2) December 12, 2021
"This is bullsh*t," said Sobolev in a video that manages to simultaneously come off as both calm and unhinged.
"We will be educating confused parents that have been misled, indoctrinated and brainwashed to think there is no risk at all to this experimental gene therapy and that children should be subjected to this," Sobolev states, standing in front of a group of no more than a couple dozen unmasked zealots.
The few protesters in attendance were met with an equal police presence, including several squad cars and a mounted unit, but that wasn't enough to prevent the scene from getting ugly.
While police stopped most protesters from getting close to the entrance, some were pretty persistent.
Most protesters are sticking close to York St and Bremner Blvd. A few demonstrators inched towards the Stadium and began talking to people heading to the clinic before police intervened#cdnpoli #Toronto #onpoli #antivaxxers pic.twitter.com/QtitI2CJhX— Kosalan Kathir (@kokopuff16) December 12, 2021
In a since-deleted tweet, a man walking by the protest with his dog reacts to the group, sarcastically shouting "arrest children" and cheering in a clearly mocking tone. He is then punched twice in the face in an incident that has since been reported to Toronto Police.
Far-right publication Druthers News has, for whatever reason, left a video of the incident up on their Facebook page, the confrontation occurring shortly after the 39-minute mark.
The assault, reported to police, wasn't the only interaction spotted during the protest, with reports of cops detaining protesters and issuing tickets.
In the end, the protest accomplished little more than inconveniencing the public. The vaccination event was considered an overwhelming success, with over 1,500 children inoculated.
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