Councillor Rawlson King provided a statement concerning the ongoing demonstration to Rideau-Rockcliffe residents.
As a member of Police Services Board, I along with my Board colleagues continue to receive regular updates from the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) concerning this demonstration.
As residents may know, as a municipal elected official I have no powers to legally prevent demonstrations and as an OPS Board member, it is against the law for me to give operational direction to the Police Service. Enforcement action and strategy during protests is the sole responsibility of the Police Service.
I however have strongly stated publicly that protestors need to leave the City now and during a Special Board Meeting held last week in preparation for the protest, I emphasized my expectation to Police Service Command that demonstrators and organizers be informed in no uncertain terms that behavior leading to breach of peace should not be tolerated.
I have heard many concerns regarding the hateful and racist acts and displays related to the demonstration. I fully agree that the demonstration and its focus is abhorrent. I said publicly that holding a protest against public health measures is absolutely outrageous in and of itself, but using it as a method to spread extremism, racism, intolerance and xenophobia is unconscionable.
As a consequence of the racism and extremism observed at the demonstration, I worked with a community coalition led by the United Way to issue a statement of condemnation.
The Police Service recently indicated that they had begun the process of working to end the overall demonstration and facilitate protestor departure and my expectation is that they will announce options in the near term.
The Police Service has also emphasized to the Board that evidence is being gathered against anyone who has broken the law and that such evidence will be used in instances that lead to prosecution.
The Police Service Board in all its engagements with Police Service Command has asked for enhanced OPS communication with residents, redeployment of neighbourhood policing and have made inquiries concerning protestor de-escalation, along with asking questions concerning the unveiling of a clear process concerning ending the demonstration.
My office continues to relay relevant resident concerns and intelligence to the Police Service when received. I along with others Members of Council are looking forward to the rapid conclusion of this demonstration.