May 25th, 2024

Police serve tickets at city hall protest

By Lethbridge Herald on January 14, 2021.

Herald photo by Ian Martens A speaker points in the direction of police officers monitoring an anti-restrictions protest earlier this week in front of city hall.

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
The Lethbridge Police Service served two tickets to the organizer of Tuesday’s protest outside of city hall for violating provincial mandatory public health orders, and for holding an unpermitted event within the City of Lethbridge.
Local business owner and We The People YQL representative Mike Hoffman received a ticket for $1,200 for contravening Section 73 (1) of the Public Health Act pertaining to orders in effect around social gatherings in the province. Hoffman, who posted a video of himself on the We The People YQL Facebook page receiving the tickets from LPS officers late Wednesday, also received a $300 fine from the City of Lethbridge for hosting a public event without a permit. Hoffman indicates he intends to challenge the tickets in court.
At a press conference Thursday morning, Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh said he was proud of the way his officers handled the situation and supported their decision to issue a violation to the event’s primary organizer instead of the three dozen people or so who showed up for the protest on Tuesday.
“When you are looking at enforcement actions, you have to look at a balanced approach to do enforcement,” Mehdizadeh said. “We certainly don’t want to go with a very heavy-handed approach to do that, and we are lucky to live in a country where police have been given discretion when we enforce the law. To try to charge everyone, that is certainly an option we have. But we choose not to use that option, because that is not the right way in our opinion.
“In this case,” he added, “if the organizer hadn’t organized this event, there wouldn’t be any people to put themselves and the other people at risk; so, in short, our officers used their discretion to do this.
“I am very proud of how they handled the situation to ensure people could still say their peace, but we also showed there are rules to be followed for everyone’s safety.”
Mehdizadeh said there is a balance to be struck here between freedom of expression and the health and safety of the broader public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when these types of demonstrations and protest actions are undertaken.
“We certainly want to be respectful of people’s rights to provide information and get such issues out in the public,” said Mehdizadeh; “however, they have to do it in a respectful way where other citizens should be put in harm’s way who really don’t appreciate that. We still have to send the message this is not the right way of going about doing things.
“People are dying every day,” he added; “so we are just trying to protect the population– and when you look at all these (public health) measures that have been put in place, there are reasons for them. They are there to protect the public, and keep people safe. And it is our job to help on that front.”
Hoffman is scheduled to appear in court on March 17.
Followa @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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