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Protesters Who Issued ‘SOS’ Signal Across U.S.-Ontario Border Slapped With Criminal Charges

"We are hostages in our province now."
Modern police car
mathieukor via Getty Images

Niagara Regional Police (NRPS) criminally charged two Ontario residents who organized a protest against their province’s strict lockdown measures last weekend, during which they hoisted an upside-down Canadian flag and used lights to issue a Morse code “SOS” signal toward the United States.

Cullen McDonald, 30, and Alicia Hirter, 43, were charged under Section 180(1)(a) of the Canadian Criminal Code, according to an NRPS press release released earlier this week.

“Every person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who commits a common nuisance and by doing so endangers the lives, safety, or health of the public,” the law says.

“Uniform officers were in attendance to ensure public safety and keep the peace,” NRPS said, further. “Since that time detectives have been continuing to investigate the gathering to determine appropriate charges.” Both McDonald and Hirter have court dates set in late June, the police also said, and further charges are expected against other attendees of the protest.

Hirter made headlines before when she attempted to find a legal loophole in the province’s lockdown order by claiming her hair salon was a film studio in February.

On a GoFundMe page she set up to help her raise legal funds to sue, Hirter wrote, “When Ontario went into lockdown, barbershops and hair salons were forced to shut down. Film companies were allowed to continue operating, so I decided to convert my barbershop into a film production studio. This rubbed some people the wrong way. I became the victim of a witch-hunt instigated in the media by unscrupulous reporters who published misleading and false statements about myself and my business.”

Hirter claims she has been subject to harassment and death threats because of stories written about her, including one woman who left her a voicemail telling her she should be beheaded.

McDonald featured prominently in a video of the “SOS” protest that streamed live on Facebook. “We are down here in Niagara Falls, Ontario,” he said. “We have a flag upside down in distress. And we are about to Morse code ‘SOS’ across the border to our neighbors. We are asking for help. We are hostages in our province now. We are no longer free to do whatever we want as our Charter allows us.”

Going on to describe Ontario’s government as “tyrannical,” McDonald claimed that public health bureaucrats are pulling the “puppet strings” of Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “We’re going to Morse code ‘SOS’ across the border, and somebody even notified the Border Patrol. And they are waiting for this message. So this is what it’s all about, guys. Take action. Take action. Do more than just protest,” he adds.

The Ontario government has faced fierce backlash for recently instituting draconian lockdown measures, some of which they were forced to walk back.

Related: Saskatchewan Health Official Slaps Fines, Criminal Charges Against Church Elders For Refusing To Let Him Disrupt Service

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