Police using ‘every tool at their disposal’ to probe Friday’s anti-lockdown protest

Those ‘potentially responsible’ for organizing, attending the rally under microscope, police say

Article content

Sault Ste. Marie Police Service continues to probe Friday’s anti-lockdown protest that drew dozens to Bellevue Park in Sault Ste. Marie’s east end.

And it’s certainly not just attendees in whom police are interested.

“Officers are currently investigating to determine who was potentially responsible for organizing (the rally), trying to identify potential organizers and people in attendance,” police spokesperson Lincoln Louttit told the Sault Star Monday.

Police would not comment specifically on the status of the probe nor disclose any particular investigative methods they are using.

“We won’t get into specifics on that, however, what I can say is that officers will use every tool at their disposal,” Louttit said.

“It is currently under investigation … That’s all I can give you at the point,” he said, but added “we do anticipate” charges being laid under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Participants could face a minimum fine of $880, while organizers may be penalized at least $10,000.

A man speaks during the Stand for Freedom demonstration at Bellevue Park last Friday. (BRIAN KELLY/THE SAULT STAR/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)
A man speaks during the Stand for Freedom demonstration at Bellevue Park last Friday. (BRIAN KELLY/THE SAULT STAR/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)

Most demonstrators Friday did not wear masks during the noon-hour gathering.

Police told the Sault Star Friday officers were in the area “ensuring public safety,” making sure the demonstration was peaceful and “monitoring as part of an investigation.”

Large gatherings, such as the one organized by World Freedom Alliance, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom and We Are All Essential at the downtown park, are not allowed during the third provincial lockdown. Police opted not to break up the gathering held in the park’s northeast corner near Lake Street.

Several speakers addressed the crowd, criticizing the lockdown and its impact on the economy and giving their take as to the effectiveness of masks to stop viral disease. They also warned of loss of personal freedom, claimed media censorship and people becoming ill by being close to persons who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Police fined eight people who took part in a recent anti-lockdown protest on St. Mary’s River Drive.

Sault Ste. Marie Police Service has not released names of those who have attended local rallies and fined under the EMCPA.

“It’s been our stance throughout this whole thing that we treat it very similar to Highway Traffic Act offences,” Louttit said.

A woman speaks during the Stand for Freedom demonstration at Bellevue Park last Friday. (BRIAN KELLY/THE SAULT STAR/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)
A woman speaks during the Stand for Freedom demonstration at Bellevue Park last Friday. (BRIAN KELLY/THE SAULT STAR/POSTMEDIA NETWORK)

Sault police do not release names of those charged with speeding, but do identify those charged with both impaired driving and speeding.

How police deal with identifying anyone charged with organizing Friday’s rally, who may face at least a $10,000 fine, has not been determined.

“Fortunately, we haven’t had that happen yet, so maybe I’m speaking a little bit too early on that one,” Louttit said. “We haven’t had that discussion.”

— with files from Brian Kelly

jougler@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @JeffreyOugler

News Near Sault Ste. Marie

This Week in Flyers