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)

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

February 17, 2021 - Kaelyn (L) and Costin Campbell are Goldstream News Gazette 2021 Local Heroes.
Pint-sized duo inspires others to be green

Costin and Kaelyn Campbell are this year’s Environmental Heroes

Erin Oldman received a scholarship through Royal Roads University (RRU), called the Legacy Award, which is given out once every five years. Oldman graduated from RRU with a Masters of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding, and is using the award to establish a charity called International Humanitarian Assessments, which helps people in war-torn areas of the Middle East. (Photo contributed by Erin Oldman)
Royal Roads University graduate receives $25,000 award

Erin Oldman will use the award to establish a charity in the Middle East

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

David Cameron Elementary school, along side Wishart elementary, Belmont Secondary and Journey Middle school in Sooke will be getting new portables, which will be ready for use in September. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Central Saanich has received funding for a new multi-use pathway that promises to improve access to Butchart Gardens. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich receives grant for multi-use pathway to Butchart Gardens

Province funds entirety of $322,800 project through economic recovery grant program

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Most Read