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Homes ‘should be off limits’ for protests: Calgary police chief

Protesters gather outside the home of Calgary MP George Chahal on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. Obtained by Global News

The Calgary Police Service continues to investigate recent protests at the homes of elected members of governments, and charges could be coming.

“We are attending the locations and interviewing witnesses, et cetera, looking at all the evidence — both electronic and statements from the public — around what transpired at the locations to determine if anything that happened there would broach criminal or other sanctions,” CPS Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik told the Calgary Police Commission on Wednesday.

“Depending on what a person does in relation to a residence… (that) may determine whether or not there could be criminal charges contemplated.”

Read more: ‘They came to intimidate us’: Calgary MP speaks out following protest outside his home

In January alone, anti-vaccine and anti-mask protests were held at the Calgary homes of Alberta’s health minister, Calgary’s mayor, a Calgary city councillor and a member of Parliament.

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“I would love to see people move back to public spaces where, you know, you can protest your lack of agreement with the government’s decisions at whatever level, but I think people’s homes should be off limits,” CPS Chief Mark Neufeld told reporters.

Neufeld said he has been in contact with protest organizers, advising them to reconsider the tactic of protesting at politicians’ homes, saying it’s similar to protesting at hospitals.

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“It’s one thing to say, ‘We’re going there and it’s a peaceful protest,'” he said. “But when I see people in masks concealing their identity and I see some of the signs and banners and that type of thing that have been there and what they say, I actually think it is very intimidating.

“So I think the context really matters.”

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Tawfik said the CPS has created a “response plan” that has been shared with other police services for protests at politicians’ homes.

Read more: ‘Disturbing trend’: Protest held outside home of Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek

It’s been an ongoing problem Calgary police are keeping track of, with the costs of policing pandemic protests reaching an estimated $2 million for 2021.

“Regarding the ongoing demonstrations, we continue to monitor and address those anti-mask, vaccine protest movements, and we’ve seen weekly demonstrations and protests occurring and are working with stakeholders within the City of Calgary to address those as they occur,” Tawfik said.

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