Saskatoon police issue 11 tickets in connection to children's 'freedom rally'
SASKATOON -- Saskatoon police have issued nearly a dozen tickets in connection to a kid-focused anti-COVID health measure event held in the city over the weekend.
The tickets were handed out to 11 attendees for violating public health orders, according to Saskatoon Police Service (SPS).
The ticketing focused on "key participants" but the "level of enforcement" could increase in the future if the risk associated with COVID-19 transmission increases, SPS said.
Police Chief Troy Cooper said SPS is following the direction of Public Health to increase enforcement due to the rise in COVID-19 variant of concern cases.
At this specific event, officers looked for more participants and anyone actively involved and said this could happen more often moving forward, according to Cooper.
“We may actually extend that and you may see more ticketing, so just a caution. Education is still a really important part of what we’re doing here and what we’re trying to accomplish," Cooper told CTV News. "We’re just asking people please don’t gather, currently it’s very dangerous and we’re going to have to use enforcement to make sure we can get some compliance there."
Cooper added that police did attend the rally, but that it isn’t always practical or safe to send officers into a large crowd to ticket people.
"Enforcement is not always visible and may occur after the fact. Issuing tickets for violations of the public health order can take time as police work to confirm identification and review evidence," SPS said.
Ahead of the planned event, SPS issued a statement saying that officers would be in attendance at the rally.
The event held near the Vimy Memorial featured a magician, hula hoops, bubbles and jump roping. Most people attending the event were not wearing masks.
“This day is all about celebrating freedom, but mostly about our children having fun,” a poster advertising the rally said.
In the leadup to the rally, Mayor Charlie Clark condemned the gathering. He said it had potential to be a “super-spreader event” and was “the last thing we need in our community.”
“One of the most insidious things about this rally is the move to use the guise of a happy, fun children's event,” he told CTV News.