Following a joint investigation by Saskatoon Police Service Patrol and the General Investigations Section, 11 attendees from this past weekend’s Children’s Freedom Rally are being issued tickets for violating public health orders.
A release issued by Saskatoon Police Service states the persons receiving tickets were key participants in the rally, but this level of enforcement may be expanded in the future as the risk associated to COVID-19 transmission increases.
As indicated previously, enforcement is not always visible and may occur after the fact, stated the release. Issuing tickets for violations of the public health order can take time as police work to confirm identification and review evidence. The investigation is continuing, and more charges may be laid.
“Police are also consulting with our enforcement partners in Health and Justice regarding options for those that repeatedly violate the public health orders,” the release stated. “Anyone who is ordered to self-isolate and fails to do so may be subject to a Public Health detention order, and to the best of our knowledge, no one that attended the event in Saskatoon was ordered to self-isolate.”
Prior to the rally, police had issued the following release:
“The SPS is aware of an event planned called a Children’s Freedom Rally. We have been contacted by many residents concerned about this rally and the police response to it. Officers will be in attendance at this event to ensure it is peaceful and restrictions under the Public Health Order are enforced. Enforcement activity may not always be visible to members of the public.
“The police use a variety of approaches to manage a protest which may include communicating with the organizer in order to ensure their protest is conducted in as safe a manner as possible. This is especially important when the protest involves a march along public roadways where the control of traffic is required. The police response to a protest is a balance between protecting the rights of people to express their opinions in a safe and peaceful manner while ensuring the general safety of the community at large.
“Police services can and do utilize investigative techniques to identify key participants and those committing egregious acts for which enforcement activity would be appropriate. Subsequent to an investigation into the event charges may be laid. The exception is where there is an imminent threat to a person’s life and action must be taken to protect a person from death or bodily harm. Such action has not been required during any of the protests held in Saskatoon in relation to the Public Health Orders.
“The Saskatoon Police Service has issued 25 tickets for Public Health Order violations since the beginning of the pandemic.”