2,000 people march through Aylmer, Ont. To protest COVID-19 health measures


Singing “Get up!” And “Freedom is Essential,” at one point, up to 2,000 people marched through the streets of Aylmer, Ont., Calling for an end to public health measures like wearing masks and physical distancing who claim to infringe on their rights.Supported by other groups who held similar rallies in Ottawa and Toronto, protesters held signs that read “Facts Before Fear” and “No New Normal”.

The protesters included many people from the city’s large religious communities.

“I am here to defend freedom. The freedom not to let the government overreact, the freedom to meet with those we love, the freedom to go where we want to go, ”said Herma Van Meppelen Scheppink, who was from nearby St. Thomas. Ont., To show support.

Protesters in Aylmer, Ont., Held up various signs. (Kate Dubinski / CBC)

The event came on the same day that Ontario reported a new one-day record of 1,132 COVID-19 cases.

With a population of 7,500, the city of Aylmer is pop. 7,500, has the highest case rate of any surrounding communities and the highest in its health region, even though Southwestern Public Health includes two counties and two major cities. Public health officials in the region and surrounding areas called the gathering dangerous, saying the combination of a large crowd not wearing masks could be disastrous for the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 .

The rally was hosted by Kimberly Neudorf, an Aylmer mother with the support of controversial Church of God pastor Henry Hildebrandt, who has fought against public health measures and the closure of her church from the start of the pandemic.

“I am here to express my opposition to a tyrannical government. I want to show my support for this community. People are here for the masks, I am here for the freedom, ”said Catherine Carter, from Windsor, Ont. traveled to Ottawa for similar gatherings.

“I have seen this movement grow over the past six months. The louder people are, the better people will hear us. “

Up to 2,000 people marched through the streets of Aylmer, Ontario, angry at the masks and physical distancing rules put in place by the provincial and federal governments. (Kate Dubinski / CBC)

When news of the protest and that of other towns spread to Aylmer, the mayor declared a state of emergency, freeing up more resources for the police.

Aylmer and Ontario Provincial Police officers stood by during the rally at the East Elgin Community Complex and the ensuing march through town.

Those who support public health measures in the city held their own small rally in the morning, and some marched around the streets watching protesters go by.

” It’s at my house. The majority of Aylmer adhere to the mask requirements, but we have this small group of people who bring in hundreds and hundreds of people from outside the community, encouraging them to shop in our stores, ”said Anastasia Gelinas. . “And the virus will surely spread, and they don’t care. “

Anastasia Gelinas, a resident of Aylmer, says those who oppose the city’s public health guidelines are in the minority. (Kate Dubinski / CBC)

“They are sowing terror in this community. I’m worried about the city and the businesses in the city. Some have quit their jobs because there are so many people entering without a mask. I’m embarrassed. The city, the vast majority, is not like that. ”

Mike Moore stood in the middle of the large number of protesters holding a sign that read “Protect your neighbors, wear a mask!”

“I believe we are in a pandemic with the coronavirus and we need to take it seriously. The government mandated masks for a reason, ”he said. ” I’m embarrassed. I have never seen anything like it here in this quiet community. “

Mike Moore, a resident of Aylmer, said he was embarrassed by residents of his town protesting the public health measures and angry at those from outside the community who came to demonstrate. (Kate Dubinski / CBC)

Protest organizer Kimberly Neudorf addresses the large crowd. (Kate Dubinski / CBC)


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