At least 27 charges laid in connection to anti-lockdown rallies held in Waterloo: bylaw officials
KITCHENER -- At least 27 charges have been laid in connection to weekly anti-lockdown rallies held in Waterloo, and more are reportedly on the way.
Waterloo bylaw officials confirming Tuesday morning that officers have laid 27 charges related to the April 18, April 25, and May 9 rallies.
The rallies have been taking place in Waterloo Public Square every Sunday since April 18, with numbers of those in attendance varying from the dozens to several hundred.
Many attending the rallies have been be observed carrying anti-mask and anti-lockdown signs, gathering in defiance of the Ontario’s current stay-at-home order and public health restrictions meant to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Following the April 18 event, three people were issued a summons to attend court and were charged with three offences each. The charges included two for failing to comply with a section of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) and one for failing to remain at home under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).
Officials say as a result of the April 25 rally, two individuals who were charged in the April 18 event, were again charged with the same three charges. Two other people were given one charge each in connection with this event: one under the ROA and one related to failing to comply with an order during a declared emergency.
Following the May 9 rally, two people were given summons with three charges each. As of Tuesday morning, one of the summons had yet to be served. Two people were also each issued a provincial offence under the EMCPA.
"[The May 9 rally was] the largest one to date," said Nicole Papke, director of enforcement for the City of Waterloo. "It seemed to have several groups of people there.
"There have probably been seven people summoned, which means they will be appearing in court."
Bylaw officials say these numbers to do not include any charges laid by Waterloo regional police in relation to the rallies.
"Over the last three weeks, the specialized team, working from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. across the region, has managed 276 occurences," said chief of police Bryan Larkin. "We have laid 41 charges in addition the work municipal bylaw is doing."
Waterloo Region residents tell CTV News they believe police are doing the best they can to control the area and watch the people.
"Everyone should be treated the same way," one resident said. "People should be fined if they break the law."
On Monday, Stratford police said they have charged 14 people in connection with a late-April "No More Lockdowns" anti-restrictions rally that drew more than 700 protestors.
Of the 14 people charged, most were either speakers at the protest or rally organizers. One other person, who officials said was being aggressive during the protest, was also charged.