Ahead of planned rally, six warrants issued in Manitoba related to breaches of public health orders
WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Police Service said six warrants have been issued by the Public Safety Investigations Unit stemming from breaches of the public health orders.
“Over a period of months, and after the issuance of multiple tickets and repeated attempts to educate members of the public, the Public Safety Investigations Unit (PSIU) has obtained warrants of arrests for six individuals,” said Insp. Nick Paulet.
He added any police agency in the province can execute the warrants.
Paulet said the warrants were issued on Thursday and so far, one person has been arrested.
The news comes as an anti-restriction rally is scheduled to take place at The Forks Friday evening.
One of the warrants is for Chris Saccoccia, also known as Chris Sky. He was promoted to speak at the event scheduled for Friday, but will not attend.
Paulet said police wouldn’t identify any of the other individuals who are wanted on warrants.
The Forks issued a statement, saying they informed public health enforcement officials and police about the planned event.
“We have not provided permission to be on Forks property to this group, nor would we, as current public health guidelines prevent gatherings or events of any size,” the statement reads.
Paulet said officers will be at The Forks on Friday.
“We are aware of it. We are working with the investigators of the PSIU and there will be a visible police presence in support of partner agencies.”
He said officers will determine if other arrests will happen at The Forks related to the warrants.
“When it comes to the execution of the warrants, we make those decisions based on a number of factors (such as) timeliness (and) other sorts of associated risks. So we will make that determination at the time.”
In a statement on Friday, the province said defying health orders is a serious offence.
“Violators will be held to account,” the province said. “Enforcement officials continue to investigate all large gatherings and rallies they are made aware of.”
Paulet added said police can’t just shut down the rallies and said it is a balancing act, noting officers examine multiple factors when a large group is gathered, including information about the gathering and the resources available.
“It’s a very difficult task to decide who is walking into a green space and for what purpose,” Paulet said.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman also strongly advised against people attending the rally.