Anti-lockdown protesters march through St. Catharines

·3 min read

On May 1 anti-lockdown protesters marched through downtown St. Catharines, before congregating at city hall.

The protest started at Memorial Park, on Paul Street, where protesters gathered and listened to speeches before making their way to city hall.

Along the way, protesters chanted “we do not consent,” “no more lockdowns” and “freedom is essential.” Some protesters sang the national anthem.

Sandor Ligetfalvy organized Saturday’s protest and led the march through the streets of St. Catharines. “I’m here to demonstrate that we do not consent with lockdowns,” he said.

Ligetfalvy said those who believe that lockdowns are the solution to the pandemic have an opinion that is “disproportionate to the problem.”

“Due to economic collapse, there is a tremendous amount of suffering,” he said while referencing other countries in crisis. By day, Ligetfalvy works in the video game industry; however, he lost funding for a project last year due to COVID-related economic complications. That same year, Ligetfalvy’s first child was born.

He said that he feels he has no alternative but to protest. Currently, Ligetfalvy faces two court summons, and either summon could result in a maximum fine of $100,000 and potential jail time.

“If they're willing to arrest me for peaceful assembly, where will they stop?” he said. Ligetfalvy said that although he’d rather spend the time with his family, if he does end up in prison, it would ultimately be worth it.

While speaking to protesters, Ligetfalvy encouraged them to connect with one another and meet up again outside their local town halls on following Saturdays.

Darryl Watkins and his son were also in attendance at the protest. Both father and son gave a speech before the march. “I'm fighting for my son's freedom, I'm fighting for all our kids freedom, they are suffering dramatically throughout this whole lockdown,” Watkins said.

He said it was important for children to socialize and play sports to maintain good mental health. Eleven-year-old Eli Watkins also gave a speech at the protest. Though the speech was written by Eli, his father did help organize his ideas on paper.

Watkins said he challenges other parents to connect with their kids to further the discussion on how lockdowns have impacted children.

“I’ll be happy when the lockdown ends,” Watkins said. “We need to live our lives, we need to allow kids to have freedom to socialize. I don't want my child to be a statistic of someone who committed suicide.”

Terie Mumby attended the protest with his wife, Trisha. He said, “I believe that if we don't stand up to what's going on with this pandemic and the masked mandates, we're gonna look back and find we don't have any rights left.”

Mumby said that he felt as though these lockdowns were unlawful. “We need to get outside in the fresh air. We need to open our businesses, we need to especially open the churches so people can worship.”

April 30 2021, the province declared a state of an emergency for the third time, a result of a rapid increase of COVID-19 case numbers. This declaration also sees the extension of a province wide stay-at-home order, originally issued on April 8.

Under these rules, currently Ontarians are required to stay home except for necessary reasons, such as work that cannot be done from home, groceries, health care, outdoor exercise, and child-care or school.

Ontario residents are currently prohibited from gathering indoors or outdoors with anyone with whom they do not live, unless the external person lives alone. In the case of weddings, funerals and other religious events, a maximum of 10 people may gather but are required to wear masks and be two metres apart. Wedding receptions, however, are still prohibited indoors or outdoors unless celebrated with members of the same household (or an external person who lives alone).

The current stay at home order is in affect until May 19, 2021.

Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News