Charges coming in Cornwall anti-lockdown protest

In this October 2020, file photo, protestors leave the Eastern Ontario Health Unit office on Pitt Street as part of an anti-lockdown demonstration. Cornwall's police chief says the paperwork is in the final stages to charge some participants in a protest on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

Update 4:21 p.m. Friday: Seven charged in anti-lockdown protest. Click here for that story.

CORNWALL – The Cornwall Police Service is in the final process of getting ready to charge some participants in the most recent anti-lockdown protest in Cornwall.

Around 150 people participated in the demonstration on Saturday, May 1 outside the health unit office on Pitt Street.

“That investigation…is at its completion stages now and I’m told that informations are being prepared. There will be charges laid in regards to the participants at that particular protest over the past weekend,” Chief Danny Aikman told the police board Thursday morning.

Asked by Mayor Bernadette Clement about how police respond to public outcry for a “swift and strong action,” Aikman says a “measured response is the most appropriate response to these situations.”

The chief says physical confrontation between protesters and police may escalate the situation from the “anti-masking population.” Instead, officers were there to make sure counter demonstrators didn’t get into a fight and to also conduct surveillance.

“I believe the protest, as much as I found it distasteful, it was done in such as way it was not appropriate to have a physical confrontation to move those individuals off the street,” Aikman said.

The chief says at some point “we may have to reconsider that position” of using physical force but he is hopeful restrictions will be loosened before that happens.

As for the demonstration, Aikman believes the roughly 85-90 per cent of the 150 people at the Saturday protest were from the Cornwall area to rally around Randy Hillier’s “road show.”

Aikman, whose 75-year-old uncle died two weeks ago from COVID-19, believes the deniers are “living in a fantasy world” until the disease hits their family. “This is a very real thing.”