The Standard (St. Catharines)

Niagara Falls man arrested following lockdown protest

‘I am betting on the Charter for Rights and Freedoms,’ says Sandor Ligetfalvy

- BILL SAWCHUK With files from Kris Dubé Bill Sawchuk is a St. Catharines­based reporter with the Standard. Reach him via email: william.sawchuk@niagaradai­lies.com

Niagara Regional Police have arrested and laid three criminal charges against one of the leaders of three sparsely attended lockdown protests across Niagara Saturday.

Police took Sandor Ligetfalvy, 37, of Niagara Falls into custody after he made a speech from the steps of city hall in St. Catharines. He has a video bail hearing scheduled for Sunday.

Ligetfalvy faces one charge of being a common nuisance and endangerin­g the lives or safety of the public, disobeying a court order and failure to comply with an undertakin­g.

A police news release said other charges from the event are pending under the provincial Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act.

Police monitored the protest in St. Catharines from a distance. Uniformed officers have been watching ongoing demonstrat­ions across Niagara to ensure the immediate safety of the protesters and the public. Typically, police have been waiting for events to end peacefully before intervenin­g.

A Standard reporter asked Ligetfalvy before the protest if he was worried about being arrested.

“It is not something I want to have happen,” said Ligetfalvy. “I consider the threat to be a paper tiger, and I’m here to test it. I have been told I would be arrested, but it was no cuffs, no cruiser when I was arrested this week. They popped by in their own car and dropped off paperwork.”

Niagara Regional Police Sgt. Jeff Latham told reporters at the St. Catharines rally more than a dozen people were reported to be protesting outside Welland city hall Saturday afternoon as well.

At about 2:30 p.m., about six people could be seen waving signs and flags along East Main Street.

Latham also said four people were protesting in front of Niagara Falls city hall Saturday afternoon.

The province has been under a stay-at-home order to rein in high COVID-19 case counts since April 8.

Ligetfalvy was arrested in August for peeling the physical distancing stickers off the floor of a Niagara Falls Shoppers Drug Mart. In December, a charge of mischief was dropped after he agreed to enter into a 12-month common-law peace bond.

Ligetfalvy was also charged with common nuisance/endangerin­g the lives or safety of the public following a protest last weekend in St. Catharines.

Ligetfalvy wrote on a closedgrou­p Facebook page that he has conditions imposed through a court ordered Form 10 that he said he refused to sign.

Those conditions forbid him from making protest advertisem­ents (either online or printed) and holding or being within 50 metres of an amplificat­ion device. The order also prohibits him, coming within 50 metres of Memorial Park in St. Catharines, coming within 50 metres of St. Catharines city hall and directly or indirectly communicat­ing with another prominent protester, Cullen Mcdonald.

The Crown uses a Form 10 to compel the accused to abide by specific conditions while the case is pending. In return, the accused does not have to spend time in jail awaiting his day in court.

Ligetfalvy made his speech Saturday at St. Catharines city hall with a megaphone connected to a hand microphone. Four marked police cruisers were parked nearby. The protesters went on a brief march through downtown St. Catharines before returning to city hall.

“I am betting on the Charter for Rights and Freedoms,” Ligetfalvy said in the interview. “Under the legislativ­e hierarchy, the charter should be the supreme voice. We are here today under the right of peaceful assembly and the freedom of expression and freedom of associatio­n.”

The Canadian Charter of Rights allows government to set reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrab­ly justified in a free and democratic society.

 ?? KRIS DUBÉ TORSTAR ?? An anti-lockdown rally in downtown St. Catharines Saturday afternoon was attended by about 30 people in front of city hall.
KRIS DUBÉ TORSTAR An anti-lockdown rally in downtown St. Catharines Saturday afternoon was attended by about 30 people in front of city hall.

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