Toronto Police have charged multiple people following anti-lockdown protests held in the city’s downtown core on Saturday
In a release, the Toronto Police Service said that officers had been monitoring several large gatherings on January 23, including one held at Nathan Phillips Square.
Videos posted to social media show hundreds of people marching downtown, denouncing lockdown measures and public health orders.
According to its Facebook page, Hugs Over Masks held a “freedom rally” at Yonge Dundas Square yesterday. A poster for the event notes that Chris Sky, also known as Christopher Saccoccia, would be in attendance.
Police arrested 10 people at the gatherings, which were also held at Nathan Phillips Square and Queen’s Park. Seven people, who were all arrested at Yonge-Dundas Square, are now facing charges, according to the release.
Christopher Saccoccia, 38, has been charged with being a common nuisance and four counts of public mischief.
Iola Fortino, 57, has been charged with being a common nuisance.
Alice Mullins, 51, James Kerr, 57, Jake Elliot Begumart, 27, and Matthew Hayley, 24, each face a charge of obstructing a peace officer.
Robert Keith Bruce, 72, has also been charged with obstructing a peace officer, and faces an additional charge of assaulting police.
Police said an additional nine charges were laid against attendees for failing to comply with the province’s emergency orders, and three charges were laid under the Highway Traffic Act.
On January 12, Premier Doug Ford announced a second provincial State of Emergency, as well as a Stay at Home order, which went into effect on January 14.
Under the order, people must only leave home to make essential trips, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing healthcare services, to get exercise, or for essential work.
On Saturday morning, Toronto Police reminded Torontonians that gathering limits of more than five people are prohibited.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a public health issue; it is a public safety issue,” police tweeted. “Participating in large gatherings, including protests, is not just in contravention of these orders but also puts attendees and the broader community at risk.”
“When these events happen, police will be present ad prepared to respond appropriately.”
To date, Ontario has seen 255,002 COVID-19 cases and 5,803 virus-related deaths.