Organizer charged as protest against COVID restrictions causes 'minimal' disruption at Calgary airport

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A lone traveller enters the Calgary International Airport in Calgary in February. The airport warned visitors that a rally against mandatory vaccination requirements for air travel could impact access Sunday but later said the impact of a few dozen protesters was minimal. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A lone traveller enters the Calgary International Airport in Calgary in February. The airport warned visitors that a rally against mandatory vaccination requirements for air travel could impact access Sunday but later said the impact of a few dozen protesters was minimal. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Police charged a man with mischief and issued summonses as a few dozen people rallied against mandatory vaccination for air travel and other COVID-19 public health restrictions, but caused little disruption at the Calgary International Airport on Sunday afternoon

The Calgary Police Service said approximately 50 people participated in the rally by convoy.

They laid a mischief charge against the man identified as the organizer, Ontario-based Chris Saccoccia, who also identifies himself as "Chris Sky" in interviews and online, He's a vocal figure in circles that oppose mandatory COVID vaccines, masking laws and other pandemic public health restrictions.

Protesters were upset, among other reasons, because as of Oct. 30, all travellers boarding a plane, train or marine vessel in Canada need proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 (although there's a period of transition in November for people who are in the process of getting fully vaccinated.)

Police said they issued 17 summonses at the rally for Traffic Safety Act violations, according to a news release issued on Sunday evening.

Police say the rally was part of a larger "Jam the Airports" protest across the country purportedly meant to disrupt access to various international airports.

"We became aware of today's planned protest earlier last week and had several resources in place to monitor today's activities," acting Insp. Peter Siegenthaler said in the news release.

Earlier Sunday, the airport posted on its Twitter page to warn visitors the demonstration could impact access in and out of the airport, but later said it caused "minimal disruption."

CBC News was at the scene of the rally. Traffic outside the airport did not slow down for an extended period of time.

Airport spokesperson Dean Paddock said the protest convoy took at least two passes around the airport.

"It is difficult to speculate on how many vehicles participated as they became mixed among arriving guests and seemed to disperse quickly with minimal disruption to our operations," Paddock said in a statement.

Saccoccia, 38, who is from the Township of King north of Toronto, has previously organized demonstrations against COVID-19 public health orders across Canada. He has been arrested by police in Thunder Bay, Ont., for organizing a gathering in that city back in April. He was also fined at a Winnipeg anti-restrictions rally that month.

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