STATEMENT: Abuse and harassment of local public officials and politicians must end

Last night, a small group of anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-lockdown, anti-science people doxxed Dr. Hirji, Niagara’s Medical Officer of Health, and protested in front of his home.

This morning, we woke to learn that, overnight, the home of St. Catharines City Councillor Karrie Porter had been hit with juvenile, vulgar graffiti.

Because of the “𝑐𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑓𝑙𝑖𝑐𝑘𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 ℎ𝑢𝑚 𝑜𝑓 𝑙𝑜𝑤-𝑙𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑙 𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒” of on-line abuse and harassment to which I’ve been subjected on a near daily basis for the last few years, I was trying to take one of my extended breaks from social media to give myself some relief and peace. Because even locking down my social media accounts has not seen an end to the posts about me; the posts in which I’m tagged; the e-mails I receive; or lies and abuse to which I’m subjected about my personal life and my very existence.

However, after seeing some of the video of the protest at Dr. Hirji’s home last night, I had to return to say something. This morning, I had to return again to say something about the actions at Councillor Porter’s home.

About the intimidation that took place at Dr. Hirji’s home, I tweeted this:

I’m back very briefly to say that this is outrageously repugnant behaviour. Dr. Hirji has done nothing but make decisions to keep our communities healthy and safe for going on two years now.
Disagree with him (and the science)? Fine
Show up at his home? Be ashamed of yourself

It is disgusting and maddening that the behaviour of some people forces me to have conversations with my teenagers about what to do if something like this happens at our home when I’m not here.

And I got in touch with my children’s father to talk about what had happened and to discuss what the kids had been instructed to do should it happen here when I’m not home.

These are conversations we shouldn’t have to be having. We shouldn’t be driven to worry about our children’s health and well-being due to the actions of a small group of extremely loud people who care nothing about the wider community.

This morning, upon learning about the attack on Councillor Porter’s home, I tweeted this:

And, following last night’s abhorrent attempt at intimidation at Dr. Hirji’s home, the home of one of the best city councillors this city has ever seen was hit with this vileness.
I am enraged and very, very sad.
There is no excuse for this.

There is nothing about this that is okay.
There is no excuse.
It doesn’t matter that Karrie is a public figure or that Dr. Hirji is a public servant.
Showing up at people’s homes is not okay.
And maybe these people (or anyone who excuses this) thinks it’s harmless or funny It’s NOT.

When these things happen, they don’t only happen to the people who are being targeted, they happen to families, friends, and neighbours.
It sounds extreme, but this should be considered some form of terrorism, because of the efforts to actually terrorize and because of the impacts this behaviour and these actions have on their targets, and the families, friends, and neighbours of those who are targeted.

As I write this, I know that people who are part of the same small but extremely loud group will think this is hilarious; an overreaction, because it’s fun to gaslight people you’ve been harassing for years, isn’t it?

Make no mistake, Dr. Hirji and Councillor Porter have the support of *thousands* of residents in St. Catharines and across Niagara.

I know that Councillor Porter’s phone has been flooded this morning with messages of support and offers of help to clean up this garbage. And that will happen every. single. time.

What we saw last night and learned about this morning is not just misguided behaviour. This is not peaceful protest. And it is certainly not harmless.

This behaviour is dangerous. Showing up at people’s homes and intimidating them is entirely unacceptable. It is vile. It is repugnant. It is abhorrent. There are, in fact, not enough adjectives to describe it. And it should not be tolerated to any degree.

There is not a single excuse you can make for this behaviour. None.

It is not okay to show up at someone’s home and terrorize them and their children.

It certainly causes the harms you’re hoping it will, and I can assure you that there is nothing to gain for you. Take your videos and post them widely. Post and tweet all you want. You can be certain that it will impact you negatively in the long-term, because the vast majority of people do not find this to be anything like acceptable.

With the propensity for potential employers and clients to check out someone’s social media before hiring or engaging them, it will impact your future employment prospects, at minimum. I don’t think you want that.

Be better.

P.S. I will state very plainly and publicly that I have a few colleagues on Regional Council whose behaviour and statements about the pandemic have done nothing to discourage this behaviour. As community leaders, they should be taking a very public stand about this and – in no uncertain terms – denouncing it.

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