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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Letter: Police need to stop horse protesters intimidation tactics

The following letter was sent to Lord Mayor Betty Disero, Laura Sentineal (owner of Sentineal Horse Carriages), MPP Wayne Gates, Eduardo Lafforgue (president, NOTL Chamber of Commerce), and Chief Bryan McCulloch (Niagara Regional Police). A copy was submitted to The Lake Report for publication.

Dear editor:

My young teenage daughter has her dream first real job as a footman for Sentineal Horse Carriages in NOTL.

She proudly works for this outstanding employer as it incorporates her love and respect for all that represents horses. On Sept. 8, I went to drop her off at 11 a.m. in front of the Prince of Wales Hotel so that she could work her shift until 7 p.m. The At War For Animals Niagara protesters were out, as they have been numerous times when I have dropped her off, but I must say that this day felt different.

There was a definite feeling of being smothered as I couldn’t even drop her off at the normal spot where the carriages sit at the corner of King and Queen.

The protesters, with their very large signs, had taken up the spot where the carriages normally park. They were also occupying the median to my left as I went to turn from King Street onto Queen Street.

As a matter of fact, I couldn’t even turn from the left turn lane because the protesters had one of their sign-plastered cars parked in the left turn lane. This is illegal!

Why on earth were they allowed to do this?

! I dropped my daughter off nearby. But if I knew how intrusive and aggressive these protesters were going to get, I would not have left my child in the midst of this.

My daughter contacted me a couple of hours into her shift because she felt overwhelmed and intimidated by the increasing aggressiveness of the protesters.

You do not know my daughter, of course, but she is an incredibly tough-minded and resilient person.

I can count on one hand the number of times that she has cried or gotten emotional over a situation that would bother most of us.

But the protesters did elicit an emotional reaction from her to the point that she had to leave her shift. This makes me LIVID.

This situation with these misguided protesters has become unbearable. After many incidents arising from these protests, I understood that there was an agreement formed between the protesters and the Locals for Carriages group stating that neither side was to come within a certain distance of each other nor were any verbal exchanges to take place.

Those terms of mutual respect were totally blown out of the water by the protesters on this day.

They shouted “Shame! Shame!” to many of the tourists who were taking carriage rides. If I were a tourist, I would be very annoyed to be dragged into this conflict and would walk away with a very unfavourable impression of NOTL. I certainly would not revisit.

At one point, protesters were intimidatingly coming very close to one of the carriage horses. This can spook a horse, which could result in injury to the horse or people, and damage to cars.

The driver alighted from the carriage to ensure that the horse remained calm. Because the protesters were in such close proximity, physical contact was unavoidable. The protesters inflated this into a brouhaha of exaggerated shouts of “Assault! Assault!”

It was at this point that my daughter called her employer to ask if she could leave the scene because she felt unsafe. The protesters even followed the horse carriages down King Street with their signs, as the drivers took their horse carriages off-duty because they feared for their safety.

As they approached the Royal Canadian Legion on King Street, where a fundraising barbecue was taking place, the protesters shifted their objections to the pig roast with new signage and a megaphone to spread their propaganda.

They clearly came prepared to cause mayhem anywhere they could. Is it not enough that they disrespected our veterans earlier in the summer by projecting their indoctrination right onto the cenotaph in NOTL?

Now they’re taking exception to a legion fundraiser! I scratch my head in disbelief that they are even allowed back in NOTL after their cenotaph affront.

As the protesters stalked the horse carriages down King Street, one of the drivers asked my daughter to ask one of the Niagara Regional Police officers to come down to the spot where the horses are turned in after a shift.

The driver was feeling very uncomfortable and intimidated with the protesters following her and wanted to ensure that there would be no altercations. My daughter was told by the officer that “We do not have the resources to extend ourselves in that way.”

What a great education my daughter is getting in what she can expect from our law enforcement (to be read with dripping sarcasm).

This HAS to stop.

Donna Williams

St. Catharines

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