Anti-mask protesters attempt citizen’s arrest of St. Catharines mayor
Organized in partnership with the organization Stand4Thee, the group met outside St. Catharines City Hall with a declaration of arrest for Mayor Walter Sendzik
A group of parents and community members from across Niagara, concerned by the effect of masks on children, came together at the steps of St. Catharines City Hall on Wednesday to attempt a citizen’s arrest of St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik.
The only hitch? The mayor wasn’t there. City hall is closed to the public due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with most staff – including the mayor – working from home.
The group of 30-40 unmasked protesters gathered around city hall beginning at 1 p.m., hoping to see Mayor Sendzik taken into police custody for what they say are criminal offences against children – all relating to the mandatory face covering requirements put in place in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Organizer Dan Oke works with Stand4Thee and said the parents feel their voice hasn’t been heard when it comes to their concerns with the health effects of face masks, particularly on children, and would like to see Sendzik charged.
St. Catharines city council passed a mandatory mask bylaw in July, requiring face coverings to be worn in indoor public spaces. Regional council followed suit shortly after, requiring it for all municipalities.
The province has also made it clear that people must use a face covering in public indoor spaces and whenever physical distancing is a challenge – including in outdoor settings.
“Face coverings will not stop you from getting COVID-19, but may help protect others,” the Government of Ontario’s website reads.
Oke said they’ve expressed their concerns with masks to the Niagara Regional Police Service, to no avail.
“Unfortunately, the police have chosen to do nothing,” he said. “The only choice these parents are left with to defend their children is to place the mayor under a citizen’s arrest with various criminal code violations, including administering a noxious substance (carbon dioxide), criminal negligence, reckless endangerment and child abandonment.”
One of the parents at Wednesday’s citizen’s arrest was Max Prokhorov, who lives in Welland and has two children.
“It is not good for their health, physical health, mental health, any kind of health,” he said. “The government has shut down all forms of communication with the people, and they are not listening to anyone or anybody except the scientists and doctors they have.”
Masks have been identified by public health agencies as one of several measures that help to stop the spread of COVID-19. Other measures include staying home, physical distancing when in public and frequent handwashing or sanitizing.
Oke said the ultimate goal of the citizen’s arrest is to see the immediate revoking of all the COVID-19 measures.
Niagara is soon approaching its 6,000th confirmed case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last March, with more than 1,000 occurring in just the last week compared to 735 the week before. As of Wednesday, there have been 205 COVID-19-related deaths in Niagara, up nine from the day before.
At 1:30 p.m., the group proceeded to issue its declaration of arrest for Sendzik, where they cited various sections of the Criminal Code of Canada and called on Niagara Regional Police Service to carry out the arrest.