A Quebec couple, a failed rapper and a former beauty queen, have been charged in connection to a spate of cellphone tower fires over the past week in Quebec.
Quebec provincial police arrested Justin-Philippe Pauley, 28, and Jessica Kallas, 25, in Sainte-Adèle, a town about 80 km outside of Montreal, early Thursday morning after two cell towers in nearby towns were lit on fire. Police told VICE they believe the couple are connected to seven cell tower fires in the area over the past week.
Pauley and Kallas are facing charges of arson and mischief, police said.
The cell tower fires are similar to fires set across Europe in connection to a conspiracy theory that 5G causes coronavirus. Provincial police spokesman Marc Tessier told VICE on Wednesday that the 5G conspiracy is “only one thing but it’s part of the investigation, for sure.”
Bell and Rogers, which own some of the towers targeted, said their towers were not 5G but instead provided 4G or 3G services.
The social media profiles of the couple do not indicate any belief in 5G conspiracy or conspiracy culture in general.
Pauley’s mother told the Journal de Quebec he believed in the 5G conspiracy but did not think setting the towers on fire was the way to fight back.
“We can disagree with 5G without committing vandalism,” she said (in French). “5G weakens the immune system, but it’s not by doing that that it will have an impact on the cause.”
A beauty queen and a bad rapper
Kallas is a former beauty pageant contestant and model. In a bilingual write-up on a model site from 2014, Kallas wrote that she started modelling at 17 and her dream was “to become a fashion model.” Social media posts indicate that she won a Miss Lebanon Canada beauty contest in 2013.
Justin-Phillipe Pauley is a once aspiring rapper. In 2016, Pauley released an album, Almost There, which featured (unfathomably bad) songs called “Party Like,” “Predator,” and “Keep It Up.” A music video he released for “Party Like” shows Pauley at a club, making out with a woman on a bed, and rapping in a bowtie.
Social media posts also show that for a time Pauley likewise worked as a model.
Photos of the two exiting the courthouse after a hearing confirm the accused’s social media profiles.
5G conspiracies have been around as long as the technology. Conspiracies connected 5G to coronavirus have been around since the start of the year and exploded in recent months. Dr. Stephen Lewandowsky, the chair of cognitive psychology at the University of Bristol, told VICE that people tend to grasp conspiracies during a pandemic.
“It’s a frightening situation,” said Lewandowsky. “People feel that they’ve lost control and the moment that happens some people turn to conspiracy theories. It provides psychological comfort to think that there’s this cabal of bad people out there who are responsible for this.”
This isn’t the only time that a failed Canadian musician made headlines in connection to dumbass activities connected to the coronavirus pandemic. In February, Torontonian James Potok grounded a plane en route to Jamaica by standing up and announcing he had just got back from Wuhan province in China. He later said he was hoping to go viral to further his music career.
This story has been updated to clarify Rogers and Bell do not own all the cell towers targeted in the spree.
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