Police response to weekend protests and gatherings
Over the course of the weekend, we have served four people and made two arrests in relation to breaches of the Court of Queen’s Bench Order recently obtained by Alberta Health Services.
The order states that all COVID-19 public health measures must be followed for gatherings including protests, demonstrations, rallies and illegal indoor events. It also contains and enforcement clause that once served, gives police the powers to arrest organizers and promotors of events that do not meet the health orders.
Court order enforcement
On Saturday, police lawfully enforced this order by proactively serving two organizers of a church service with the court order in an effort to ensure that citizens attending the Saturday service were abiding by the current COVID-19 public health orders.
A third person who also attended the service was served with the order on Saturday at a later time. The investigation into this individual continues, but they have not been arrested at this time.
On Sunday, we served another organizer of an illegal in-person gathering that was in violation of the court order as current COVID-19 public health were not being followed. This investigation is also still ongoing and no arrests have been made at this time.
When a person is served, there are a number of factors to consider in order to determine what next steps are appropriate, including arrest. We are working in close partnership with Alberta Health Services to thoroughly examine each circumstance as the investigations continue. In the case of the two individuals arrested and reported on yesterday, the individuals acknowledged the court order previously served on them but chose not to comply. The steps that have been taken with these individuals is consistent with enforcement efforts in line with the provincial framework that was announced last week.
There were multiple planned protest events throughout the weekend, which all occurred without incident. No tickets were issued by CPS at the events, but tickets may be issued after the fact dependent on evidence gathered at the time. We will release updated COVID enforcement numbers on Thursday, May 13, 2021, as part of the weekly COVID enforcement update provided by The City.
It is important to understand that law enforcement recognizes people's desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to peacefully protest. However, as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who wish to attend these gatherings as well as those they may come into contact with. We strongly encourage gathering organizers to use available technology to host events virtually when possible. This has been successfully achieved without incident by the vast majority of worship and event organizers.
We continue to ask those who may be considering organizing or participating in any outdoor events or gatherings to ensure they are familiar with public health order requirements and to do their part to prevent further spread of the virus.