UPDATE 8/17: Peterborough’s Mayor Diane Therrien took to Twitter to issue a response after the citizen arrest party went south for the QAnon conspiracists.
“People have been asking me to comment on the events of the past weekend in #ptbo. I hate giving airtime/spotlight to these imbeciles,” she wrote. “Here is my comment: fuck off, you fuckwads.”
People on a mission to arrest cops on behalf of the self-proclaimed “QAnon Queen of Canada” ended up being violently arrested themselves instead.
Romana Didulo has built a sizable following out of the QAnon community by convincing people that she's the true leader of Canada and waging a secret war against the supposed pedophilic cabal of globalist leaders, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or U.S. President Joe Biden. On Saturday, she gathered around 30 of her followers in Peterborough, Ontario, to conduct “citizen’s arrests” on members of the Peterborough Police Service for enforcing COVID-19 restrictions, like mask mandates and business closures.
The day was a clear escalation for Didulo and her crew. But by the end of it, one of her followers had been charged with two counts of assaulting police and a second was facing charges of mischief and resisting arrest. A third man was also later arrested and charged with a myriad of charges, including assaulting a peace officer with a weapon.
For weeks, Didulo’s group had hyped up Saturday's event. They created Telegram pages, memes, and even a website, all of which Didulo amplified.
Just days before, she posted on Telegram to ask her more than 60,000 followers, "Who amongst you are prepared and ready to keep your city safe, peaceful, and secure after you've peacefully arrested Peterborough Ontario Police?"
The event was planned by one of Didulo's most militant subjects, a Peterborough man named Frank Curtin. For over a year now, Curtin has been filming himself handing out fake cease-and-desist orders, issued by Didulo, to local police and companies demanding they stop all health measures related to COVID-19. Curtin did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Didulo’s ideology is wide-ranging and at times esoteric. Alongside typical QAnon conspiracies, she claims to be an alien-adjacent being willing to share advanced medical technology with her followers. She also espouses the pseudo-legal sovereign citizen ideology, which convinces its adherents that the government has no control over them and became prominent during the COVID-conspiracy movement. Currently, she’s on a never-ending tour of Canada with her “staff” in a group of RVs, either rented, bought, or gifted by her fans.
Early Saturday afternoon, Didulo’s convoy and other believers, many of them livestreaming, gathered near the Peterborough Police department. Chattering excitedly among themselves, they marched down to the police station and readied themselves to arrest some cops. Upon walking up to the entrance, however, the group encountered a problem that not even their queen could solve for them: a locked door.
The group knocked on the door and yelled demands for police to come out and be arrested through a megaphone. When that didn’t work, they called 911, once again asking the officers to please come out and be arrested. But the police seemed happy to ignore the group. As Didulo’s followers sat in front of the police station to wait out the police officers, she handed out snacks: veggies and full packs of sardines.
“Unfortunately, because the police knew we were coming today, they’ve locked all the doors,” Curtin said on a livestream. “At some point in time, they're going to have to leave. So when that time comes, we are going to make a citizen's arrest on the individual.”
After a few hours, members of the group, obviously getting bored, decided to wander the property looking for other ways to get their hands on some cops to arrest. When they moved to a restricted area of the police station where the vehicles were stored, they finally got their encounter with the police.
In a press release, the Peterborough Police Service wrote that officers “arriving for their shift were blocked by protestors who also tried to gain access to a secured entrance of the police station.” Video from the event shows Curtin confronting an off-duty officer in a vehicle and telling him “we’re placing you under arrest” before immediately being arrested by police officers himself.
One member of her staff sat on the ground screaming after being grabbed by a police officer. Another one of Didulo’s followers then tackled the officers in a failed attempt to protect his friend. He was also arrested, much to the confusion of the group.
“Stand down, police! You’re under arrest,” yelled one man at the cops arresting his friend in front of him.
The Peterborough police have also announced an investigation into the arrests because one of the men had to be taken to hospital.
Experts have warned that Didulo is leading her followers toward confrontations with the public and state, and some have even taken to calling her community a cult. The group wears matching white uniforms and drives Didulo around from city to city where she hosts meet-and-greets with her followers in parking lots. Didulo has also advised her followers to stop paying their utility bills—because she decreed they were now free—and many of her followers are getting their power and water shut off. As they beg their queen for help, she ignores them.
When the arrests started Saturday, Didulo and her closest followers fled for the safety of her RV. And in royal tradition, the queen attempted to distance herself from the event she promoted and threw her followers under the bus. In a livestream from the RV with hundreds of viewers, she said she’d only come to watch.
“A gentle reminder that Her Royal Majesty Queen Romana Didulo Commander-in-Chief and Queen of the Kingdom of Canada was in Peterborough Ontario yesterday as an observer NOT participant,” she wrote Sunday.
Didulo also said she’d called upon “allied countries” to aid in their efforts against Peterborough police and repeatedly chastised Curtin for not listening to her. She also seemed upset that people were describing the arrests as a loss and plans to address “the world” later this week.
Many in the community have been doing what they can to spin the event as a win for Didulo and their group—mainly by saying that police locking the door shows they were terrified of Didulo. Despite the day clearly not going their way, Didulo implied they may try this again, but they just need more people.
"I said months ago that People who were wanting to do Citizens arrest should do it in large numbers—the We The People in thousands," she wrote on Telegram.
Editor’s note 8/17: This story has been updated with subsequent arrests and the announcement of a police investigation.
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