Anti-vaxxers storm the Toronto Eaton Centre to protest new restrictions
An exceptionally loud group of anti-mask, anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown protesters have descended upon Toronto's busiest mall to, presumably, stay warm while shoving their fringe beliefs in the faces of unsuspecting Eaton Centre customers this afternoon.
Organized by a group called 110 Million Moms, the demonstrators were scheduled to meet up at Nathan Phillips Square, just outside Toronto City Hall, on Monday morning.
Photos and videos shared online suggest that nearly 100 protesters hoofed it from there via Bay Street to Toronto Police Headquarters, where they staged a rally and eventually tried to enter the station but failed, as the doors were locked.
Oh, this? Just an anti-lockdown protest in Toronto in -17C weather. pic.twitter.com/Q9Rfpb4BEU— Huda Idrees (@hidrees) January 10, 2022
After a brief period of yelling at police station doors with their megaphones, the group could be seen walking south down Yonge Street.
Ironically, the Toronto Police Service announced that it was aware of the demonstration, writing on Twitter around 10:30 a.m. that "everyone has the right to peacefully protest, and police will be in the area for everyone's safety."
It's important to note that this is far from the first protest of its kind to take place in Toronto without any friction from police, whether on the streets, at huge malls, or specifically within the Eaton Centre
The 100 Million Moms organization, which describes itself as a group of "natural health and medical freedom advocates who do not consent to forced medical intervention," livestreamed much of the protest on Monday via Instagram.
The demonstrators appear to have entered the Eaton Centre after multiple failed attempts early Monday afternoon, but only a dozen or so remained at that point.
Clips from the Eaton Centre rally were fast ripped and shared widely on Twitter, where incredulous Toronto residents mocked the group and expressed their condolences to Eaton Centre employees who are dealing with this kind of harassment at work.
After carrying around a boombox to amplify such chants as "hands off our kids" and "no to the booster," the group claimed some space in the middle of the mall for a rally of sorts.
The organization's leader, identified as Jody Ledgerwood, encouraged people in Ontario to reject booster shots and lockdown measures, citing statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which does not track or have any jurisdiction in the province of Ontario.
Jody Ledgerwood and her crew have overtaken the Eaton Centre to spread anti-vaxx misinformation.— Caryma Sa'd - Lawyer + Political Commentator (@CarymaRules) January 10, 2022
VAERS is not a reliable source because there’s no vetting, and zero distinction between causation & correlation.
Her numbers are imaginary. #cdnpoli #antivaxxers #EatonCentre pic.twitter.com/uusMjmIlt3
Some people are straight up making fun of the group, while others are pointing out that they are breaking the law, not by protesting, but by failing to wear a mask indoors, a violation of the city's own bylaws.
"Anti Vax protesters raided Eaton Centre like it was Capitol Hill," tweeted one observer with a trio of cry-laughing emojis.
"Not that I feel the need to be in a mall right now, but I'd walking my double masked self right the f*ck out of there and not going back until rules were enforced," wrote another. "Zero tolerance."
This question has to be asked… Where is mall security? Looking at Toronto Eaton Centre.— Cory Patterson (@CoryPatterson77) January 10, 2022
Just under 2,500 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario at the moment, 437 of them in intensive care. A total of 9,706 new cases were reported this morning and officials continue to urge all residents to get their first, second and third does of a Health Canada-approved vaccine immediately amid the Omicron wave.
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