North Bay's deputy police chief says officers have issued over $15,000 in fines to Freedom Rally protesters so far.
Michael Daze tweeted this morning that his officers will also be at another rally tomorrow at the waterfront. Similar gatherings took place on March 20, April 3, and April 17.
He is asking the public to stay home and follow the COVID guidelines noting lowering the risk is in everyone's best interest.
The North Bay Police Service has issued a total of 16 tickets and served one summons to individuals for violations of the Reopening Ontario Act in relation to the gathering on April 17. In addition, four tickets were issued in relation to the March 20 and April 3 gatherings.
Police identified those involved using information gathered from watching the previous rallies, then issued charges to people at their homes.
"The NBPS maintains this practice to ensure officer and public safety. Officers entering a crowd to lay charges risk physical confrontations and the spread of COVID-19 to police and members of the public," says a news release.
Earlier today the OPP said it had ticketed three organizers of similar rallies in Kirkland Lake.
Organizers in North Bay are planning another protest at the waterfront Saturday afternoon. It may take on added intensity after Stewart's Decorating was ordered closed earlier this week.
“Recently, we have seen large groups come out to observe these rallies,” said North Bay Police Chief Scott Tod. “These actions not only put individuals at risk of COVID-19 infection but also risk physical confrontations, which put our officers and the public at risk. I am appealing to everyone to follow the stay-at-home order and public health guidelines.”
There is currently a Declaration of Emergency and provincial Stay-at-Home Order in effect. Indoor and outdoor gatherings are prohibited except for weddings, funerals, or religious services, where attendance is limited to 10 people. The organizers of gatherings can be fined a minimum of $10,000 and attendees can receive a $750 ticket.
NBPS will b present @ Freedom Rally @ Waterfront tomorrow. Over $15,000 in fines issued 4 past events. Pls follow the stay @ home order & public health guidelines. Lowering r risk should b in all r interest. TY health care professionals & all emergency responders 4 your work.— Michael Daze (@DeputyChiefDaze) April 30, 2021
Meanwhile on Facebook, a group called the Northern Freedom Alliance says the protests will continue every second Saturday until the end of the lockdowns.
Attendee Corrin Smith writes, "As members of this community it is not just our right, but our responsibility to voice our opinions and work together to ensure fair and mutually beneficial plans are made, especially in times of emergency."