23 people charged since Caledonia housing site dispute began; all will appear in court at later date
A camp of protesters reclaiming a housing development in Caledonia. (Photo: Johnny Mazza - CTV Kitchener) (Aug. 8, 2020)
KITCHENER -- A total of 23 people have been charged by provincial police in relation to a protest at a housing development site in Caledonia.
Protesters moved onto the site, known as McKenzie Meadows, in July. On July 31, police said they presented the protesters with a court injunction ordering them to vacate the land.
On Aug. 5, police returned and arrested some of the protesters at the site. Roads in the area were also blocked as part of the land dispute.
Since then, others have been arrested and charged, as well. The OPP said they've all been released and are scheduled to appear in court in Cayuga at a later date.
Police said legal counsel for one of the accused contacted them because their client wanted to turn themselves in. That person cooperated with police and was formally charged with two counts of mischief and disobeying a court order on Tuesday.
Another person turned themselves into police on Wednesday. They're facing charges of mischief and disobeying a court order.
Police said that, after arresting nine people on Aug. 5, they identified other people who were at the protest site. Police were able to get some phone numbers for those people and contacted them, giving them the chance to turn themselves into police. Anyone who came to the detachment was given paperwork that included a court date and released.
"Giving the accused persons the opportunity to turn themselves in was helpful in de-escalating a potential confrontational situation," the OPP said in a news release. "All of the individuals who attended the detachment were co-operative with police."
Charges handed out by police include mischief and disobeying a court order. Some at the site were also charged with assaulting and resisting peace officers.
Police said there area currently two court injunctions in place that prevent anyone from being on the McKenzie Meadows site, along with stopping anyone from building road blockades in Haldimand County.
Disobeying the court order could result in charges, fines or imprisonment, police said in a news release. Anyone blocking a road could also have their vehicle towed and impounded.
The OPP said it's worked to have "significant collaborative and respectful dialogue aimed at bringing about a peaceful resolution" during the dispute.