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Anti-lockdown demonstrations continue despite hefty fines

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia Police and bylaw enforcement have fined more than 30 people taking part in anti-lockdown protests at City Hall this spring, but it doesn’t appear to be having an impact.

Participants at the weekend rallies – averaging 50 to 60 and largely unmasked – say they are fighting government overreach and the loss of personal freedoms protected by the Constitution.

Twelve people were issued $880 tickets on April 24 under the Reopening Ontario Act, and another 24 tickets issued May 1.

But the rallies continue.

An “administrative decision” was made not to conduct surveillance or lay charges when demonstrators gathered again on May 15, Const. Nelson Amaral told The Journal.

About 40 people were back at City Hall participating in another peaceful protest on Saturday, May 22.

Officers try to educate protestors that they’re violating a provincial law, and often face verbal abuse for it, said Const. John Sottosanti.

“That’s the frustrating point. We’re not there to limit your freedoms… we’re here to ensure the safety of everyone. This is what medical professionals are asking, and this is what the province has put into place, and this is what we’re following.”

Tickets are rarely issued at the protests. Instead, officers document those on site and verify their identity later through other means, Sottosanti said.

He wouldn’t say how police do that but acknowledged social media plays a role. Facial recognition software is not used in the investigations, he said.

“Obviously (the officers) go back and they do their research to make sure they have the right person before they issue tickets.”

Ontario’s stay-at-home orders are in place until June 2, and could be eased or extended depending on COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations.






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