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Oct. 21, 2021 | Thursday
Local News
Editorial: Horse protesters have gone too far
A group of horse carriage protesters projected their messaging onto Grape Escape Monday night. The property is private, and police were notified. (Facebook/Sourced)

It’s oddly fitting, perhaps sadly ironic, that on the weekend when Canadians celebrated all things Canadian, including the glorious freedoms we all enjoy, that a handful of protesters were out on the streets of NOTL again, exercising one of their democratic rights.

Free speech, freedom of peaceful assembly et al.

Except this time, the people who call their group At War For Animals Niagara, went too far. One of the goals of any protest is to get noticed and to spread their message. In this case, these oddly self-righteous individuals are protesting what they call speciesism, the ideal that animals are no different than people and using animals to pull carriages through town is wrong.

They are entitled to that offbeat, misguided opinion and, goodness knows, they have not hesitated to drive it home for almost two years now.

But Saturday night, they crossed a line. They used our downtown war memorial, the cenotaph located at the clock tower, as a screen to project their propaganda.

Well, they got noticed. Thanks to social media, the world can see what they did.

The fact they would stoop so low as to think it’s permissible to desecrate a war memorial is a clear indication of how misguided these lost souls are.

Thankfully, they didn’t damage or deface the cenotaph, so the 2014 federal law protecting war memorials from such actions doesn’t apply. It was an unconscionable, stupid act but was not criminal, as the Niagara Regional Police acknowledged in a statement to The Lake Report.

The protesters only dispersed after officers on the scene were advised that the protesters were contravening a Town of NOTL bylaw, the police admitted.

Democracy can be messy, but it remains the best system we have. And one of the things it allows is these foolish ne’er-do-wells to make fools of themselves while they clog up our tourist district and disparage Sentineal Carriages, a popular local business supplying a service that people want.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero and the support group Locals For Carriages may have come up with a good interim solution: installing surveillance cameras to keep an eye on things. While admittedly that could be seen as intrusive by some, it does give authorities another tool to use should further problems occur.

But it’s not a solution. We’re not sure if there is a solution, however, the idea of instituting a permit system for parades and protests, as some have suggested, might be worth exploring.

We can’t ban such nuisance protests, nor can we wish them away. And we certainly don’t want anyone to take the law into their own hands, as some on social media have hinted.

Perhaps, eventually, the half-dozen members of this ragtag group will find another cause to celebrate and ride off into the sunset, so to speak.