Treatment of Kelowna reporter focus of third day of COVID-19 protester trial

Click to play video: 'Treatment of reporter focus of day 3 of COVID-19 protester trial'
Treatment of reporter focus of day 3 of COVID-19 protester trial
WATCH: Bruce Orydzuk was charged with disturbing the peace on July 13 2021 outside a COVID-19 vaccine clinic. – Jul 7, 2023

The Kelowna man who made national headlines when video footage of him unleashing a tirade at a South Asian security worker went viral, was actually shouting his views on vaccines to a reporter when the guard intervened, a B.C. provincial court judge heard.

Bruce Orydzuk has been charged with disturbing the peace on July 13, 2021, outside a COVID-19 vaccine clinic and Friday was the third day of his trial.

Crown counsel Kevin Short has explained he’s aiming to demonstrate through the testimony of eight witnesses that Orydzuk’s actions weren’t just a nuisance.

He has to prove that his actions that day caused a change in behaviour for those who were witness.

Click to play video: '‘Freedom rallies’ will continue in Kelowna without permits, says organizer'
‘Freedom rallies’ will continue in Kelowna without permits, says organizer

Key to the case is video footage shot by Carli Berry and, surprisingly, Orydzuk himself.

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Berry was a reporter for InfoNews on July 13, 2021, and shot the footage that spread nationwide. In the portion of video that many people became familiar with, Orydzuk could be heard shouting racially charged comments to a South Asian security guard.

Orydzuk demanded that the security guard  “go back to his country” and called him “disgusting.”

Before that, however, Orydzuk had already engaged a reporter.

In a video he submitted to the court, around 30 minutes before the interaction with the security guard, Orydzuk asked Berry why she wasn’t covering any information about vaccine injuries and deaths. He continued to explain that he and the other dozen or so protesters were at the vaccine clinic that day to offer insight to those getting their vaccine, about informed consent.

Click to play video: '‘Freedom rally’ protester’s assault trial gets off to a rocky start'
‘Freedom rally’ protester’s assault trial gets off to a rocky start

The interaction consisted of Orydzuk mostly offering his thoughts unbidden and loudly, though when Berry eventually asked him if he wanted to be interviewed he offered more.

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Berry told the court that the first interaction was “unsettling.”

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She was already familiar with Orydzuk from messages he’d written to her on Facebook about her coverage and, while she didn’t describe the nature of those messages, she had ended up blocking him from her page to avoid future interactions with him.

After leaving Orydzuk, she told the court she took some more photos and then went to the security guard’s tent – that’s when the situation escalated.

Berry had gone to  inquire about whether she could get another side of the story about the clinic that day. When there, Orydzuk approached.

In another video submitted by Orydzuk, it’s clear that the object of his anger was Berry.

“You’re not reporting the injuries from the jabs because you believe it’s a conspiracy theory. Are you kidding me? My wife works in a care home where 15 people died,” he can be heard yelling.

The security guard intervenes and asks Orydzuk to walk away. The guard said the clinic grounds were private property, which caused Orydzuk to get more upset.

“I’m having a conversation with somebody, get out of my face,” he said. “You can go back to your country. You’re not a Canadian. You’re not a Canadian. You are not Canadian. You’re disgusting … go back to India.”

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Berry told the court Friday that she started filming then, not necessarily for the story she’d been sent there for – to document protesters at another COVID-19 vaccine clinic – but for safety reasons.

She felt Orydzuk’s actions were threatening to both herself and the security guard, and the safest thing to do was to get it on tape, she said.

“It was very uncomfortable,” she said.

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Head organizer for Kelowna freedom rallies back in court

“I didn’t know what was going to happen … I was concerned for my safety. I don’t know if it escalated quite to the (point) of being scared but yeah, it was very, very uncomfortable.”

She said given the messages she’d previously received, and the vitriol she witnessed, she was also worried that her interactions with the well-known protester would escalate.

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“I don’t want people to escalate into violence or that type of thing … I’d say I was concerned, worried and nervous about what was going to happen,” she said.

Berry told the court that after that interaction she never covered protests in the same way and feared her vehicle, marked with her news organization’s logo, would become a focus of vandalism.

She also said that she opted out of trying to interview anti-vaccine and anti-COVID mandate protesters – something she would have done readily before – and began covering events of that kind from a distance.

Berry was still being cross-examined by Orydzuk Friday afternoon.

The trial was set for three days but looks as though it could surpass that marker. Berry was the Crown’s second of potentially eight witnesses as the trial got underway Friday.

It took three days to interview the first witness, an Interior Health nurse, due to a variety of setbacks, not the least of which was what police called an “unknown threat” that cleared the building for the bulk of one day.

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