Chatham-Kent Police charge organizer of rally

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Police in Chatham-Kent have charged the organizer of a rally against COVID-19 restrictions.

The organizer, a 32 year-old Wallaceburg woman, was part of the "Chatham-Kent Freedom Group," according to a news release from Chatham-Kent police. The group held the rally at Tecumseh Park in Chatham on Nov. 21, which was followed by a march to the downtown core.

Police say that they investigated the event along with bylaw officials. The investigation determined that the number of attendees was greater than what is allowed for outdoor gatherings — which is currently 25 — and issued a Provincial Offences Act Summons for failure to comply with the Reopening Ontario Act.

A person convicted of the offence is liable to a fine of at least $10,000 and up to $100,000, and could include prison time of not more than one year.

"During these difficult and challenging times those jeopardizing public safety and contradicting the law, will be held accountable to the courts. The law is clear and requires responsible action," Chatham-Kent Police chief Gary Conn said in a news release.

The charges come as police in London, Ont. charged three women for an anti-restriction rally that did not comply with public health regulations. Police in St. Thomas and Aylmer have also charged rally organizers.

The accused in the Chatham-Kent case is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 6, 2021.