On Sunday May 23, 2021, I reported on the No More Lockdowns Pop Up Church Service at Victoria Park, in Kingston Ontario. There were approximately 80 people in attendance. Elder Andrew DeBartolo of Encounter Church, was a guest speaker at the service. I believe this event was a huge success and I am happy to of been present for the event. I have to say I was quite pleased to see a positive Police response to members of the public exercising their rights, during this event. The Kingston Police attented the event, due to complaints received of people not social distancing in the park.
The Police Officer's respected section 176 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which makes it unlawful to disrupt a religious service, by waiting until the service had concluded, to have a discussion with Elder Andrew DeBartolo and other members of the group. No fines were handed out, no arrests were made and a dispersement order wasn't even given to the crowd of about 80 people. The Police Sergeant stated that they were not there to fine anyone and it would be unrealistic to think that they could even fine every person in attendance anyways. The Sergeant recognized the rights of the people in attendance to assemble and to practice their religious beliefs, as stated in the Canadian Charter of Human Rights & Freedoms, he stated that they are not judging anyone here and he sympathized with the crowd. The Sergeant explained to the crowd that unfortunately Elected Officials have decided these rules and the Police have the duty to respond, when calls of concern come in from the Public.
The Sergeant only asked that people try to stay the Health Department regulated requirement of 6ft apart. These Officer's actually listened to the concerns of the people in attendance. The Officer's explained themselves and they were very respectful towards the people at the event. The Officer's respected the people at the event, respected their rights and respected the rule of law, that they have sworn an oath to uphold. These Officer's did this by using their discretion that the law gives them, in how they conduct themselves while conducting their duties. The Police have a duty to respond to any call for assistance from the public and it is always up to the discretion of the Officer's Who respond, as to how they approach each situation and conduct their duties accordingly. This is the way Police Officer's should be dealing with the public, so I applaud this Sergeant and the other two Officer's, for how they handled this situation. The Sergeant stated that people feeling the necessity to videotape Police interactions is quite hurtful, because this is due to the public trust in Police being eroded during the Pandemic. That people feel when the Police show up, they are going to do something, when most of the time that's not always the case. I know these Officer's did not want to be there in this situation and they truly were trying to fulfill their duty to respond, in the most respectful way possible.
What the Sergeant said is true, it is hurtful that we the public feel the need to film our interactions with the Police, due to the lack of trust today. That people feel everytime the Police show up, something bad is going to happen. However, it is events like this and footage of positive Police interactions such as this, that will rebuild that trust in our communities. It was great to see these Officer's use their discretion and wait until the service had concluded to speak with people. I could feel that these Officer's do not want to be put into these situations. When one man, who was holding his young boy, said to the Sergeant; "I have no business or freedom anymore, what am I suppose to tell my son as he grows up?" Another member of the event asked the Officer's, "why is it ok on the other side of the park for Queens Students to be playing tag football and ultimate frisbee, with roughly the same amount of people; but an outdoor church service gets complaints calls about it?"
The Officer's couldn't offer any answers to these questions and I know this really bothered the Officer's, as they truly do want to help the Public in every situation. As a past member of the Law Enforcement community I know that these are not situations Officer's take lightly and it's not easy for any Officer to be put into the position of either keeping their oaths or keeping their jobs. It was great to see these Officer's conduct themselves in a calm and respectful manner. I was especially glad to see the members of the church service thank these Officer's for their service and acknowledge that these Officer's have been put into a horrible situation and it's not easy for them to deal with these situations.
The Police interaction with the church group ended with an agreement that people would try to remain 6ft apart and disperse soon, as the service was over anyways. The Officer's all gave Elder Andrew DeBartolo a Covid approved Elbow bump, they left the group and the Officer's waited by their vehicles. Within a few minutes, members of the group had all gone their own ways and the Police had gone about their day. This is a perfect example of how the Public and Police should be working together during this very difficult time for everyone. It speaks volumes to the old analogy that, a little respect goes a long way. Thank you Officer's for your dedication to the public and for using your discretion, the way the law has intended it to be used. Also thank you to the people in attendance of the event for reciprocating that same respect back to these Officer's, who have been put into these horrible situations by our Government. Before leaving the event I had the opportunity to speak with a young man and he spoke the truth about Lockdowns in the best way I've heard anyone speak about them.
Lockdowns were put into the best perspective by a 9 year old boy when he said, "Lockdowns are dumb, they are just the elite trying to control regular people and none of this makes sense. I want my life back, I want to see my friends and I want to go to school; lockdowns need to end and stop hurting people."
You know folks it's true what they say. If you want to know a truthful opinion on a matter, just ask a kid and they will tell you the unfiltered and non-biased truth.
Below are links to video footage of the event: