A protestor holds a sign outside the Windsor Pavilion Thursday night. More than 200 showed up to counter the evening’s anti-SOGI program, the Erosion of Freedom. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Police respond to anti-SOGI protest in Oak Bay

Windsor Pavilion sight of rare Oak Bay protest

Oak Bay was the centre of a heated protest on Thursday night as hundreds of allies and members of the LGTBQ community gathered outside, and inside, the Windsor Pavillion room in response to a Jenn Smith presentation called The Erosion of Freedom.

The presentation was eventually shut down by Oak Bay Police as arguments escalated to a point of pushing and shoving, said Chief Andy Brinton.

“We couldn’t let it escalate any more than it was, without risk to public safety issues,” he said. “It’s no mystery that there was the potential for issues, so we thought it would be appropriate to have a presence and not allow it to grow into anything.”

At that point the building emptied quickly and smoothly, he added.

It’s the biggest protest of any kind in Oak Bay that Brinton’s seen in his five years.

Oak Bay Police actually had four plain clothes officers there from the beginning in anticipation of public safety issues.

“Sending uniforms can sometimes excite things and we wanted a low profile,” Brinton said. “At one point the place was full, we had additional officers attend and closed the event off.”

By then people were in the foyer and stairway, and under fire regulations they shut it down.

It was Oak Bay Police’s first encounter with members of Soldiers of Odin in Oak Bay, as the SOO group took up a role as providing security for Smith.

READ MORE: Hundreds of protesters drown out anti-SOGI speakers in Oak Bay

Smith was identified by the protesters for his stance against the newly updated B.C. education curriculum called SOGI 123, which stands for sexual orientation and gender identity. In a response on Friday morning Smith said it was actually him being “bullied” and that the presentation was only partially about SOGI 123.

He suggested instead that the LGBTQ community ushered in “a form of soft totalitarianism,” referring to the dozens of protesters who made their way in to sit-in on Smith’s presentation. (The talk did go ahead inside a small room in the Windsor Pavilion, but the speakers could hardly be heard over the chants, songs and whistles of the protesters filling the room and the field below, the Oak Bay News reported).

“A massive mob was assembled to shut down hate speech that did not exist,” Smith claimed. “Those claiming to support love and inclusion and toleration, showered me with hatred, intolerance, and exclusion.”

Victoria was the event’s final Vancouver Island stop after hosting in Campbell River, Duncan and Nanaimo.

Despite Smith’s claims, the protesters were adamant that in fact Smith normalizes hurtful speech that is indefensible by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Greater Victoria School District trustee Ryan Painter, who helped organize the protest, said that Smith is promoting misinformation about SOGI 123 that is inaccurate.

“SOGI 123 is an educational guide that helps close a gap for teachers to welcome all students,” Painter said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

– With files from Nina Grossman


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Divorced Canadians not afraid to take the plunge again

Most will wait almost five years before remarrying

Survey finds 15 per cent of Canadian cannabis users with a valid licence drive within two hours of using

Survey also finds middle-aged men are upping their usage following legalization

Father of Saanich murder victim Lindsay Buziak set to appear on Dr. Phil show Friday

Jeff Buziak says he has not seen the show and does not know what to expect

EDITORIAL: We need to change our fire behaviour

Most wildfires in BC during April and May were caused by humans.

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Serious crash scatters pylons, closes highway lanes on mid Island

Crash happened at 1 a.m. Wednesday on the Trans-Canada Highway in Nanaimo

Horse carriage supporters to rally outside Victoria’s city hall

Owner of carriage company plans rally in response to push to shut them down

Christmas morning burglar sentenced on Vancouver Island

Justin Redmond Feusse, 20, sentenced to 240 days in jail for Dec. 25 break-and-enter

Saanich lifeguards earn Vital Link awards for cardiac arrest response

Awards from BC Emergency Health Services recognize quick and skillful life-saving

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Trudeau’s action plan on climate change brings B.C. politician out of retirement

Terry Lake, a former B.C. health minister, is running for federal office in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

Survey finds minimal progress in Canadian military’s fight against sexual misconduct

1.6 per cent of regular-force members — 900 military personnel — reported having been victims of sexual assaults over past year

Thirty trees destroyed in Parksville’s Cedar Ridge Estates

Damage estimated at $30K; city says vandals intended to permanently ruin the trees

Most Read