Nova Scotia

Halifax police make arrests at separate gatherings

Halifax police made arrests and issued tickets for violations of the Health Protection Act for gatherings near Saint Mary's University and Citadel Hill.

Tickets issued under the Health Protection Act for gatherings at Citadel Hill and in city's south end

Police made arrests at Citadel Hill for violations of the Health Protection Act. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

Halifax police made six arrests and issued numerous tickets for separate gatherings in the city on Saturday. 

One of the gatherings was at Tower Road and Inglis Street, outside Saint Mary's University in the city's south end. It was the starting point for what was billed as a "Free Palestine COVID safe car rally" scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. 

Organizers of the event had posted warnings on social media that participants should stay in their vehicles to avoid violating COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

In a news release Monday, police said there were roughly 500 participants in 200 vehicles. It said one person was arrested and subsequently issued multiple tickets for offences under the Health Protection Act, Emergency Management Act and Motor Vehicle Act.

A total of 17 tickets were issued at the event. Nine were for offences under the Health Protection Act, two for offences under the Emergency Management Act and six for offences under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Police laid charges at the start of a car rally near Saint Mary's University in the south end of Halifax (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

There was a heavy police presence at Citadel Hill for another gathering, which started shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday.

That event was organized on Facebook by a group called Freedom Nova Scotia.

On Friday, the province obtained a court injunction preventing Freedom Nova Scotia and similar groups from staging the planned protest on Saturday. The court order also authorized police to use reasonable force in arresting anyone who takes part in one of these protests.

The group announced on Facebook that the rally had been cancelled "under duress." But several people indicated in the comments to the post they planned to gather regardless.

CBC News saw three people being arrested at a gathering on Citadel Hill. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC)

A handful of people not wearing masks gathered in the area between the entrance to the fortress and the clock tower on Saturday afternoon.

Police said 50 people participated in the event. Five people were arrested and subsequently issued tickets. A total of 11 tickets were issued — nine under the Health Protection Act and two under the Emergency Management Act.

The news release said officers reached out to the organizers of both events in advance to make them aware of the current public health restrictions.

"Given the serious circumstances we are currently facing with the pandemic, officers took the difficult but necessary actions to protect the community at large," it said.

On Saturday, Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella urged members of the public to "educate themselves" about COVID-19 restrictions.

"It's sending a clear message to the individuals that are participating that we have to do everything that we can to help protect the public and prevent the spread of the virus," Kinsella said.

"There is a time for demonstrations and protests and that time isn't now."