More than 100 tickets are being handed out to attendees of a car rally that rolled through downtown Calgary on the weekend.
According to police, organizers of the pro-Palestinian rally told officials about 200 cars would be in the Sunday rally, and would travel along a route outlined with the input of the city’s major events and emergency management section, through the downtown.
“However, during the event, the rally grew to an estimated 1,000 vehicles that deviated from the planned route and caused significant traffic congestion along with safety concerns throughout the downtown over a five-hour period,” police said Wednesday.
“At the time of the rally, officers worked hard to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other motorists, while collecting evidence of serious safety issues and Traffic Safety Act infractions.”
Safety concerns and Traffic Act violations included:
- Vehicles driving on the wrong side of the road
- Vehicles running red lights
- Blocking intersections for long times
- Drivers using cell phones while driving
- People, including children, hanging from windows and sunroofs
- Stunting, firing of flares and fireworks from vehicles and within crowds
- Significant noise into the night leading to complaints from residents
Police said 911 received more than 50 calls from citizens “concerned for their safety and upset by the significant disruption to their community.”
Evidence of the stunting and traffic violations were captured on body-worn cameras, in-vehicle cameras and traffic light cameras.
Police said trying to issue the tickets at the time of the rally “may have resulted in escalating the situation with the large group.” Two people were arrested at the rally — one for mischief to property and one for a fight.
“While we appreciate the decision of rally organizers to consider an approach that adheres to current public health orders, all rally participants are required to abide by traffic laws and the safety of fellow pedestrians and motorists must remain a priority,” the police said.
The police said the tickets are “not meant to paint all those that participated in the rally with the same brush.”
“The violation tickets are being issued based solely on the behaviours of the participants who failed to adhere to traffic laws and risked their own safety or that of others,” CPS said,
“We also appreciate that it can be difficult for organizers of these events to fully anticipate the number of attendees and convey all of the agreed upon rules of engagement to all participants.”
The CPS said it vowed to continue working with organizers of events like the pro-Palestine rally, allowing for people to exercise their right to freedom of expression without putting attendees, members of the public or police officers on the scenes at risk.
“We would like to stress the importance of protest organizers reaching out to work with us in the planning,” police said.
“It is not uncommon for attendance at these events to exceed the estimates, which can make them very difficult to manage on the ground.”