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COVID-19: Peterborough police see familiar faces at weekly anti-lockdown protests

Demonstrators march at a protest against government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Peterborough, Ont., Saturday, April 24, 2021. Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press

Peterborough police say they continue to see familiar faces at the weekly anti-lockdown protests at Confederation Square.

The most recent protest on Saturday, May 1, attracted 150 to 200 individuals, according to police estimates — a drop from the 600 estimated a week earlier that included Ontario independent MPP Randy Hillier and Maxime Bernier, federal leader of the People’s Party of Canada.

At the April 24 rally, Peterborough Police Service chief Scott Gilbert personally issued tickets for breach of the Reopening Ontario Act to both politicians. To date, police have ticketed 10 people under the ROA and five under the Provincial Offences Act stemming from that day’s events.

Read more: COVID-19: 7 more charged in anti-lockdown protest in Peterborough featuring Hillier, Bernier

During a noontime media briefing hosted by Peterborough Public Health on Tuesday, Insp. John Lyons said there have been no charges laid from the most recent protest — yet.

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“Making sure they were safe is our priority,” said Lyons. “As well, we are still following up on charges for those individuals who have been identified.”

The anti-lockdown protests have been held weekly. Since January, 21 people have been identified and charged at the protests, which often include a march down George St. in the city’s downtown. There have been 25 charges under the ROA, three under City of Peterborough bylaws and four charges under the Highway Traffic Act.

“Officers are spending a fair bit of time identifying and then charging individuals,” he said. “I can tell you that will continue as long as these protests continue under the current stay-at-home order.”

Lyons says officers are seeing a number of familiar faces at the protests.

“We are seeing people who are coming week-to-week,” said Lyons. “Those are the individuals I would call the organizers and they have made it clear to us that they will be attending every week.

“We have now been charging them — unfortunately, due to their own actions — every week they have been there.”

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