Two charged after anti-vax protest at Eaton Centre

Video footage of demonstrators attempting to force their way into the downtown mall went viral

Two people were arrested over the weekend after scenes of anti-vaccination protestors attempting to force their way into the Eaton Centre went viral.

Police said they charged a man and a woman with assault on September 25 after uniformed security guards denied a group of demonstrators access to the mall.

One security guard was assaulted and no injuries to security staff members or protesters were reported, police said.

Michael Leaf, a 29-year-old from Thornhill, and Vanessa Carvalho, a 23-year-old from Brampton, are each facing one count of assault. They are scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall on December 15 at 11 am.

Video footage taken by lawyer Caryma S’ad (who has been documenting anti-vax protests) at the Saturday afternoon demonstration showed chaotic scenes of police and security struggling with people attempting to enter the Eaton Centre.

The incident occurred during a rally and march against Ontario’s recently implemented vaccine certificate system, which began at Queen’s Park and then headed to Yonge-Dundas Square. Anti-masker Chris Saccoccia (aka Chris Sky) was on hand to address the crowd.

In a series of tweets, Sa’d said Saccoccia encouraged “‘united non-compliance’ such as going in groups to stores & restaurants to protest vaccine mandates. That seems to have motivated the crowd.”

Police officers had lined up in front of the mall entrance, forming a barricade, she added.

Eaton Centre owner Cadillac Fairview issued a statement on Saturday that said staff coordinated with police to prevent the crowd from entering the mall. “Cadillac Fairview with the support of TPS will continue efforts to prevent this from occurring again in the property.”

On Sunday, Mayor John Tory released a statement calling the incident outside the Eaton Centre “illegal behaviour.”

“I know the vast majority of people are angered and frustrated by these anti-vaccine, anti-mask protests – I am too,” he said. “The protests are spreading misinformation, harassing innocent people and businesses and showing no respect for police, security or the rule of law. I support any action taken by police to address this and I’m sure most members of the public do as well.”

Under Ontario’s vaccine certificate system, people must now show proof of full immunization against COVID-19 along with government-issued ID in order to enter restaurants, cinemas and other businesses deemed non-essential. Retail stores are exempt from the system.

The city held a series of mobile vaccination clinics at Cadillac Fairview-owned malls over the weekend, including the Eaton Centre.


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