Police charge organizers of anti-lockdown protest in Niagara Falls

Police have laid charges tied to an anti-lockdown rally in Niagara Falls on Saturday April 17, 2021. Twitter- People's Party of Canada

The owner of a St. Catharines, Ont., hair salon, which reopened during the January COVID-19 lockdown by operating as a film and production studio, is one of two people that has been charged in connection with an anti-lockdown protest in Niagara Falls on the weekend, according to police.

Investigators say the accused are each facing a single charge under the criminal code of causing a nuisance and endangering lives or safety of the public for the “organized” gathering.

Read more: Niagara-area barbershop is using film set exemption to reopen amid pandemic

“Uniform officers were in attendance to ensure public safety and keep the peace,” Niagara police said in a release on Monday.

“Since that time detectives have been continuing to investigate the gathering to determine appropriate charges.”

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Investigators say Alicia Hirter, 43, of St. Catharines and Cullen McDonald, 30, of Lincoln are facing the charges.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Investigation into St. Catharines barbershop reopening as studio' Coronavirus: Investigation into St. Catharines barbershop reopening as studio
Coronavirus: Investigation into St. Catharines barbershop reopening as studio – Jan 22, 2021


Hirter, owner of Chrome Artistic Barber, pivoted her business in January to operate as a film or TV set in the hopes of keeping her business of 18 years alive.

The single mother said she lost about 50 per cent of her regular customers during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020.

With the prospect of losing more amid a second shutdown, Hirter decided to try out a client’s idea of having “candid,” on-camera conversations with her customers while giving them a trim.

Read more: Niagara to ‘discuss’ concerns over West Lincoln mayor’s ties to St. Catharines anti-lockdown rally

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Last week, Hirter told Global News that venture was eventually shut down in late February by Niagara public health under section 22 of the Health Promotion and Protection Act.

The salon owner’s St. Catharines workplace on Lake Street was also involved in another protest on April 10 attended by West Lincoln mayor Dave Bylsma.

Bylsma is expected to be the target of discussions among Niagara Regional councillors in the coming days after being issued a summons in connection with the event.

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