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Orangeville Police Service Board Talks Lockdown Protests

ORANGEVILLE POLICE SERVICE BOARD DISCUSSES LOCKDOWN PROTESTS "They weren't causing any disturbances, there was no violence." - OPP Inspector Terry Ward Image of people protesting lockdown in Orangeville

“We are definitely there. We’re there in uniform, and we’re there in plainclothes,” said Inspector Terry Ward, Commander of the Dufferin Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), in reference to the lockdown protests that have taken place in Orangeville the past two Sundays. “The first protest had a few more people attend, but everyone was well behaved.”

Inspector Ward was responding to Councillor Todd Taylor, Chair of the Orangeville Police Services Board (OPSB), at the meeting held on April 20. Councillor Taylor had mentioned that some of the public had voiced concerns that there was a lack of police presence at the lockdown protests. The first demonstration on April 11 was reported to have had approximately 100 people in participation. Ward informed the OPSB that fifteen people attended the second protest on April 18.

Demonstators and police at the Lockdown Protest held in Orangeville on April 11, 2021.

“They weren’t blocking traffic, they weren’t causing any disturbances, there was no violence,” Inspector Ward told the OPSB with regards to the first protest. “There are breaches of the emergency act, but at that point, we’re gathering information. We’re doing an investigation. And after the event, a charge was laid on the organizer.”

Dufferin News attended the first protest but not the second. The first was held on Broadway and lasted for several hours. There were brief verbal disagreements, accompanied by insults and disrespectful gestures, between some passersby and the portion of the protestors who promoted messages and demonstrated behaviour that went against health measures, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dufferin News observed the organizer being approached and subsequently charged by officers while going to his residence. Before leaving the area, the organizer notified participants that he had intentions to return to the protest shortly. The confrontation between the police and the organizer, soon followed by the protestors who witnessed the situation from afar, initiated the end of the first protest. After the charges were made, a significant portion of the demonstrators left, with Broadway returning to normal promptly after.

“From our standpoint, our job is to keep the peace; we’re not going to engage, we’re not going to get into confrontations, because that’s what they want. That’s giving them a stage.” shared Ward, contrary to what was seen at the first protest. “The more attention we give them, the longer it’s going to draw out, the more it’s going to ramp up, and that’s not our intent.”

Inspector Ward detailed how the Dufferin Detachment of the OPP had engaged its provincial liaison team, which he described as trained mediators. Ward delineated how the liaison team came in before the protests and tried to communicate with the organizer.

“In both these cases, it didn’t go well,” asserted Inspector Ward. “He wasn’t willing to listen to what was said.” He explained how additional charges would be brought against the organizer due to the second protest.

References – Orangeville Police Service Board Talks Lockdown Protests

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