Halifax police arrest 21 people at two separate 'illegal gatherings' Saturday
HALIFAX -- Police arrested and charged 21 people on Saturday in relation to two separate illegal gatherings that occurred in Halifax.
In a release issued Saturday afternoon, Halifax Regional Police say they responded to a gathering on Citadel Hill, and a gathering in the area of Inglis Street and Tower Road in south end Halifax.
Police issued 21 tickets total under the Health Protection Act and the Emergency Management Act at the two events, and made multiple arrests.
While police didn’t specify the motivation behind the gatherings, there was a group called "Freedom Nova Scotia" scheduled to hold a rally at Citadel Hill, in Halifax, at 1 p.m. Saturday, while a car rally in support of Palestine was held at a parking lot at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax’s south end.
“Approximately 50 people were in attendance at various times on Citadel Hill as part of an illegal gathering,” says the release from Halifax Regional Police. “In the case of the second event at Inglis Street and Tower Road, approximately 200 vehicles were involved, causing multiple violations under the Health Protection Act, Emergency Management as well as the Motor Vehicle Act. Significant police resources were tied up clearing the traffic backlog. Arrests and summary offence tickets were issued in both events.”
At the Citadel Hill rally, protesters defied a court injunction, which was intended to prevent illegal gatherings in defiance of public health orders and restrictions.
"We are really going to have a government next time,” said one unidentified protestor.
“Despite repeat warnings, there are individuals who are still choosing to bend the rules and take risks. Today’s events in Halifax have once again demonstrated that disregard,” said Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella in a release. “People must educate themselves on the restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, including the ones in the court injunction issued on Friday. The current risks are much too great, and we will continue to take all measures at our disposal to protect the public.”
Dr. Lisa Barrett said the protest underscored the current level of public COVID-19 fatigue.
"I think there's an awful lot of people who want to do the right thing," said the infectious disease and vaccine specialist.
On Friday, N.S. Premier Iain Rankin said he sought a court injunction to stop planned gatherings in the province.
"There was a protest planned for this weekend, a group of people who don't agree with wearing a mask or following restrictions," said Rankin, during a live news conference on Friday. "So, government went to court to seek an injunction, and that was granted today, preventing this group, and any other from organizing, preventing and participating in a gathering against protocols."
The injunction, granted by Supreme Court of Nova Scotia Justice Scott Norton, prohibits any rally that would contravene the province's public health directives. It also prohibits organizers from continuing to promote the rallies on social media and authorizes police to ensure compliance with the Health Protection Act.
Police remind members of the public to follow all rules related to COVID-19 restrictions, including a court injunction obtained on May 14, preventing groups from staging illegal gatherings in defiance of Nova Scotia’s public health orders.
This is a developing story and will be updated.