Man accused of assault for anti-Pride protest makes 1st court appearance

Christopher Vanderweide made his first appearance in a Hamilton courtroom Thursday, his right hand heavily bandaged.

Christopher Vanderweide will remain in custody, with a bail hearing still to come

Christopher Vanderweide has been charged with two counts assault with a weapon following a physical confrontation at Hamilton's Pride Festival on June 15. (Rick Boswick/Facebook)

Christopher Vanderweide made his first appearance in a Hamilton courtroom Thursday, his right hand heavily bandaged.

The anti-Pride protester, known on social media as "helmet guy," is facing two counts of assault with a weapon following the violence at Hamilton Pride on June 15.

Vanderweide did not have a lawyer Thursday. The Crown is opposing bail.

The 27-year-old is scheduled to be back in court on July 4. He will remain in custody until then.

A standard publication ban covering evidence given during the bail process was put in place during the appearance 

Videos have circulated online showing someone resembling the Vanderweide smashing people in the face with a helmet.

The Kitchener man was part of a group of religious extremists who went to Gage Park during a Pride celebration.

The group held homophobic signs and called to Pride attendees through a megaphone. Several people wearing black clothing and pink masks used a portable barrier to hide the signs, and Pride supporters joined in with signs of their own and noise makers.

Online videos show a scuffle breaking out and punches being thrown.

The clip below is an excerpt from a video shot by an anti-Pride protester (warning: graphic language and violence)

Violence at Hamilton Pride

4 years ago
Duration 0:19
Featured VideoPolice have charged four people so far following physical confrontations at Hamilton Pride on June 15. (Video Courtesy: YouTube/Facts VS. Feelings)

Police arrested Vanderweide outside his home Wednesday. 

He was wearing a grey T-shirt, nodded at a group of supporters as he entered the court room.

About 10 people, including a man wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat and another with a shirt that read "WHITE, STRAIGHT, CONSERVATIVE, CHRISTIAN, HOW ELSE MAY I OFFEND YOU?" along with a hardhat, were present.

Outside court the supporters said they were a mix of members from the yellow vest movement, street preachers and nationalists.

Watch this video posted to YouTube from Pride (warning: graphic language)

Vanderweide's supporters said they don't plan on acting as his sureties, but are hoping to help him find a lawyer.

Rick Boswick, who was among the anti-Pride protesters, described himself as a nationalist who believes in "cultural heritage protection." He said Vanderweide was at the Pride event as "strictly security."

He blamed a "radical faction" of the LGBTQ community for starting the violence.

Boswick recorded a 43-minute video that captured much of the protest at Pride, including the physical confrontations believed to be part of these charges. He said he has handed that video over to police and was aware that it could be used as evidence for criminal charges.

4 people arrested

Vanderweide's arrest is the fourth so far. The others have been Pride supporters, which has drawn the ire of some LGBTQ Hamiltonians.

Cedar Hopperton was taken into custody during a peaceful anti-hate rally at city hall Saturday for what police say was a parole violation.

Police say Hopperton, who was on parole after a conviction last year for the anarchist vandalism spree on Locke Street, was part of the Pride confrontation, although Hopperton's friends and supporters dispute that. The 33-year-old is currently being held at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre awaiting a parole board hearing.

Two other people have also turned themselves in for breaching probation and participating in a demonstration that wasn't peaceful, according to police. 

The Tower, an anarchist social space, has said on Facebook that those arrested were associated with the pink-mask counter-protesters.

with files from Samantha Craggs