Anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protests erupted all over Toronto this weekend
It's been just days since Ontario premier Doug Ford announced the gradual rollback of his government's latest round of strict lockdown measures that forced the closures of gyms, cinemas, indoor restaurants and bars to close in early January.
Still, many — including far-right anti-vaccine groups — continue to protest the ongoing health measures even as their expiration nears.
Toronto was hit with a wave of protests over the weekend, the latest in a series of demonstrations that have been occurring since the first public health restrictions took effect in early 2020.
Ontario reverted back to back to Step 2 of the government's Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 5, and despite the imminent move out of Step 2 announced last week, the protesters are only growing louder.
The largest weekend event on Saturday saw masses turn out for the Worldwide Rally for Freedom, where crowds assembled at Queen's Park for speeches by politicians Randy Hillier and Maxime Bernier.
An alarmingly large group related to this rally could be seen pouring past the Yonge and Bloor intersection that day, seemingly with no regard for social distancing as Omicron continues to put immense strain on Ontario's healthcare system.
Protest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada against Covid-19 restrictions and vaccine passes. pic.twitter.com/PGXp6fJpIK— Marie Oakes (@TheMarieOakes) January 23, 2022
One commenter fired off a shot at the moving "herd" of demonstrators, poking fun at anti-vax groups' frequent accusations that the vaccinated are akin to "sheep."
But it didn't end with Saturday's protest.
The next day, a convoy of vehicles honked as they overtook highways before eventually rolling through the city, at one point even being given a police escort while halting traffic and subjecting the masses to a barrage of noise along the way.
Anti whatevers did a convoy in Toronto today. Went to Queen's Pk, played lyrics "God Bless the USA", police let them into gated area, and they then got a police escort for the convoy afterwards @CarymaRules pic.twitter.com/MRU6choLNY— FightTheFash (@FightFash) January 23, 2022
This rolling protest was reportedly organized by Jody Ledgerwood and the Line Canada with an aim to disrupt highway traffic.
After parading through the city and attending Queen's Park, the group proceeded north through the city, reportedly attempting to block an on-ramp to the 401 at Don Mills.
It should go without saying that it’s extremely dangerous to block a lane of highway traffic and wander out of one’s car while other vehicles continue to drive by.#cdnpoli #antivaxxers #KarenConvoy pic.twitter.com/JZeLuYAGSZ— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer + Political Commentator (@CarymaRules) January 23, 2022
Another group of protesters attempted to block a York Street on-ramp to the Gardiner Expressway on Sunday with police standing off against the group, and for once not attending a disturbance at the infamously nightmarish ICE Condos.
Stand-off between police and anti-vaxx demonstrators near the Gardiner.— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer + Political Commentator (@CarymaRules) January 24, 2022
Cops blocked the protesters who intended to block the highway. #cdnpoli #antivaxxers #KarenConvoy https://t.co/JzcMxFenLu pic.twitter.com/pjhZ2I5poS
It was a tense scene, though the group did show some compassion, rushing to the aid of an officer who fell and was apparently injured.
Like the demonstrators, most are impatient to return to their pre-pandemic lives, but unlike this vocal minority, most in cities like Toronto are still wary of large gatherings as hundreds remain in critical care and case counts can no longer be considered accurate.
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