Crowd of anti-vax Rise Up Durham members harass Whitby’s Christine Elliott at her Toronto home

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Published December 16, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Anti-vax protestors with Rise Up Durham face off against a police perimeter at Deputy Premier Christine Elliott's Toronto home.

A crowd associated with Rise Up Durham, a fringe collective of anti-vax activists, swarmed the Toronto home of Ontario’s Minister of Health Christine Elliott last night.

The group live streamed the campaign to their Facebook page, saying in the post, “They been in our homes and disrupted our lives time to let them see how it feels.[sic]”

Elliot, a Whitby resident until 2015, currently represents the Newmarket-Aurora riding and handles Ontario’s Health portfolio, putting her in charge of the province’s COVID-19 response.

For at least the last year or so, Rise Up Durham has been staunchly opposed to COVID safety measures, with a self-professed mission focused on “standing up to Governmental Tyranny in all its facets,” per their Facebook page.

They’ve conducted numerous disruptions across Durham, including at the Regional Headquarters in Whitby and a local children’s vaccine clinic which resulted in the arrest of anti-vaxxer Jody Ledgerwood.

They have engaged in similar disruptions throughout Southern Ontario, including attempts to keep Peterburgers, a Peterborough burger joint that defied health orders, open, as well as a an unsanctioned Christmas parade in the same city. Both efforts were kiboshed by police.

Most recently Rise Up Durham put out a call for supporters to attend Elliott’s home in Toronto for another “protest,” their second that week. According to lawyer Caryma Sa’d they initially had the wrong address.

Eventually a crowd of Rise Up member, self-professed to be about 50 people, found their way to Elliot’s home. Two roughly 20-minute Facebook live posts show the crowd rallying in the dark, shouting into megaphones and blowing whistles in the quiet residential neighbourhood as chants of “hands off our kids,” ring out in the cool Toronto night.

As police try to keep protesters spilling into the street and Elliot’s yard on the sidewalk, several unidentified women are seen shouting hysterically into a megaphone: “Our children are not for sale.” It is unclear who they believe is buying or selling the children.

Another launches into a tirade, shouting, “We have to choose between our children’s physical health and mental health. They have been segregated. They cannot play sports. They cannot go to the movies. They are depressed. They are committing suicide. Over a f***ing cold.”

These claims have been shown to be entirely baseless. Segregation is defined by unfair treatment based on one’s identity, not their choices. Sports enrollment and movie theatres are easily accessible to anybody fully vaccinated.

The University of Toronto found suicide rates actually decreased dramatically over the pandemic with 1,300 fewer deaths across Canada last year. Meanwhile, COVID-19 recently surpassed 10,000 deaths in Ontario alone, considerably more than the common cold.

The woman working the megaphone continues that the group “will not back down” until all vaccine mandates are lifted in the province.

These claims and threats of continued disruption continue into the livestream’s comments, which also features numerous insults hurled at Elliott.

She is called, “a monster” and “devil-spawn.” One said, “Thank you for taking our message to the witch’ covenstead! [sic]” Another asks for the addresses of other public servants.

As protesters continue to obstruct traffic and disrupt the neighbourhood, with calls changing to “Arrest Christine Elliott,” the police presence is reinforced. “Soon there will be more cops than people,” one man was heard to say.

The first livestream cuts out after about 25 minutes. When a second begins around 8:45 p.m, Toronto Police have blocked off the street at the intersection. They have also created a perimeter in Elliot’s yard to keep protestors off the property line.

Rise Up Durham said the protest will resume “the same time tomorrow.” The protests have been peaceful, if disruptive, thus far, but thinly-veiled threats have been made.

One supporter says online, “These health officials should tread lightly, the people are fed up. Tinder box is about to go off. [sic]”

 

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