Mega-meeting of street racing groups in Hamilton amid COVID-19 restrictions

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A group of street runners from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) took over a parking lot in Ancaster for what police are calling a “mega encounter,” with hundreds in attendance on Saturday night.The event came just hours after the Ford government announced it would implement new assembly restrictions across the province in response to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

According to Will Mason, Hamilton Police Superintendent, York Regional Police were informed of the encounter by York Regional Police shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday night, as it began in the Cineplex Ancaster parking lot in the Meadowlands.

Officers from York Police, as well as Peel Regional Police and Ontario Provincial Police, were investigating as part of the ERASE team, which targets street racing in several areas – which the police said. police, increased during the pandemic, when the streets are less crowded.

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Initially, only three Hamilton police officers were at the scene, where Mason said a large number of vehicles had already gathered.

“Over the next hour of the evening, the group swelled to completely fill the theater lot, the chapter lot, and spilled out into smaller surrounding lots,” Mason said. “There were several hundred vehicles present.”

With the help of officers from the ERASE team, Mason said the group was finally evacuated from the area around 9:30 p.m., with no street racing activity.

Mason said no tickets were issued for the rally exceeding the number of people allowed in outdoor gatherings – which has now been reduced to 25 from 100.

“Given the size of the crowd and the overall risk to public safety, the need to disperse the crowd outweighed the ability to fine specific individuals at that time. However, this has been passed on to an investigation team, which will follow up. And if we are able to identify the people responsible for organizing the event, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of our ability under the law.

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It is not known exactly how many people attended the rally, but Mason estimated that “several hundred” people were present.

Video filmed at the scene by CHCH News and shared with Global News shows a large number of people walking through the parking lot – most of them not wearing face masks.

A statement from Premier Doug Ford condemned the rally.

“The reckless behavior we saw at Ancaster last night was totally unacceptable,” said Ford. “While Ontario has made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, we cannot take this progress for granted. This fight is not over and now is not the time to let our guard down. Our actions will set Ontario’s course as we prepare for a possible second wave.

Sandy Shaw, the NDP MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, took to Twitter Sunday morning to denounce the event, which she called an “illegal gathering.”

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“It was a very dangerous situation that put our safety at risk,” Shaw wrote.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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