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COVID-19: Peterborough police issue 6 tickets at anti-shutdown protest; Cobourg police charge 4

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Around 200 people attended another anti-shutdown protest in Peterborough on Saturday. As Mark Giunta reports, for the second straight week, police handed out tickets – Apr 19, 2021

Anti-shutdown protests are a weekly event in many cities and towns across the province.

In Peterborough, a march and protest were held near city hall on Saturday.

The Peterborough Police Service issued four tickets under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) in relation to the protest.

Read more: Peterborough police issue 14 Reopening Ontario Act tickets over weekend, city closes basketball court

In addition, two bylaw tickets for flying a drone in a park were also issued for what police state was “improper drone activity” at the protest.

“Approximately 150 to 200 gathered,” Staff Sgt. Dan MacLean tells Global News Peterborough.

“Obviously we can’t charge everyone. Based upon our observations and investigation, we have to determine if there’s grounds to lay charges for certain individuals. As a result of the officers’ observations and notes and seeing crowd movements, we had identified at least four individuals where there were reasonable grounds to believe they were contravening some of the restrictions under the Reopening Ontario Act.”

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Police state further charges may be laid under the ROA and for the drone activity.

“It’s also vital that we take this pandemic seriously and do what is needed – stay home and practice public health guidelines,” police stated.

In Cobourg, a group of about 30 protesters gathered in and around Victoria Hall.

Cobourg Police Service Chief Paul VandeGraaf tells Global News Peterborough that officers engaged with the protesters and the interaction was respectful.

Four people were charged with failure to comply with an order made during a declared emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

Those charges carry fines of $750 plus a victim surcharge of $130 for a total of $880.

“We reminded everyone these are the rule and these are the expectations,” VandeGraaf said.

“We asked them to move along but they didn’t move along during the allotted time and charges were laid.”

Police have identified two more individuals from the protest who will also be charged under the EMCPA.

Read more: Many Ontario police forces won’t use new COVID-19 powers to conduct random stops

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The Cobourg Police Service joined Peterborough police and several other police agencies in the province in denouncing the ability to randomly stop people during the emergency and ask for their addresses and ask them why they’re out.

“We will stop people when we have a reason, like when you’re driving erratically. We will ensure people’s rights are protected,” VandeGraaf added. “I’m happy to see the province has pulled back on that.”

VandeGraaf noted officers won’t be looking to issue ROA or EMCPA charges during Highway Traffic Act related-stops.

There were no COVID-19 charges laid by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service over the weekend.

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