A Canadian group that was set up to protest that country’s COVID-19 regulations, which includes mask wearing and lockdowns, recently attempted a citizen’s arrest of the mayor of St. Catharines, Ontario. The group’s tactics are the brainchild of a self-proclaimed karate master who has connections to dojos all across the country.
News of this bizarre incident, and its connection to martial arts, come from Vice and an article ingeniously titled Covid Kai.
According to Vice the protest in St. Catharines, a town outside of Niagara Falls, happened in front of city hall on January 13. During the protest about three dozen people formed a half circle around Dan Oke and other leaders of his group.
Inside the circle Oke read a proclamation that he was there to arrest St. Catharines mayor Walter Sendzik. Oke then accused Sendzik of torture against children, intimidation and committing bodily harm.
These ‘charges’ appear to stem from the group’s opposition to the Ontario government’s public health measures, which include a stay-at-home-order that was declared for the entire province on January 12 and is scheduled to be in place until at least February 9. Their opposition also seems to be directed at the province’s mandate that masks be worn in all indoor public spaces and outside when physical distancing is not possible. Ontario has stated that children under the age of two do not have to wear a face covering indoors.
Sendzik was not present during the protest. Though the citizen’s arrest appeared to be a symbolic gesture, Oke told Vice he was seriously hoping a police officer would heed his request and apprehend Sendzik.
Oke also told that outlet that he was hoping his group would gain enough followers and support that widespread trials against officials would become a reality. When discussing this Oke invoked the Nuremberg Trials, the proceedings that followed World War 2 and tried Nazis for war crimes including, but not limited to, the Holocaust.
“If 8,000, 10,000, or even 1,000 people showed up in front of a courthouse, or just made a declaration that we are holding a publicly televised or streamed common law trial right now... Under ‘common law, we have the right and the authority to do that,” said Oke. “So can we do it? Yes. Yes, we can.”
Oke, whose beliefs fall closely within the ‘sovereign citizens’ movement, runs a karate dojo in Oakville, Ontario (approximately thirty minutes from Toronto). Oke’s sensei is Wallace Platt, founder of Classical Martial Arts Canada.
The citizen’s arrests are reportedly Platt’s idea. Platt’s Classical Martial Arts Canada brand has affiliates across the country.
Other anti-maskers have attempted citizen’s arrests of Canadian politicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. In December a group protested outside of the Ontario Legislative Assembly and demanded that security bring out Premier Doug Ford so the group could arrest him.
Last July a man named Brian Kidder, member of a fringe far-right group, marched to the gates of Rideau Hall, the Ottawa residence of Canada’s Prime Minister and told police he was there to arrest Justin Trudeau.
The "Canadian Revolution" camp and its supporters tried to do a citizens' arrest of Trudeau for SNC Lavalin / treason / pedophilia or something again in Ottawa today.— Drew (@nolifeneet) July 26, 2020
It didn't go as planned. pic.twitter.com/rkRA3FQJNo
Oke told Vice that the citizen’s arrests he is trying to conduct are non-violent and that he doesn’t want his group to look like a ‘bunch of yahoos’.
“We conduct these lawful arrests the way that we do to show that there’s no violence and that these are really educated, serious people that are doing it in defence of their children.”
None of the accusations Oke or Kidder have levied against politicians have any factual basis. They are, instead, the product of wide-reaching fiction-based conspiracies that circulate on the internet and are mostly the creation of far-right and white supremacist groups.