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

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation looks to grow funding for memory garden

Foundation will start new campaign next month as it wraps up recruitment campaign

Survey says 27% of Victoria employers look to hire this quarter

Another 13 % of employers anticipate cutbacks

UPDATED: Heavy police presence in Victoria had part of Bay Street blocked off

Bay Street east of Quadra Street was blocked off on Saturday

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Father of B.C. boy on life support after hit-and-run calls for tougher impairment laws

‘The law has got to be changed’ said Tony Brown

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Most Read