The event – which started at 2 p.m. and was hosted by several auto clubs – drew more than 300 vehicles to the Walmart parking lot on Brock Road, with that number increasing steadily throughout the night, the regional police department said. of Durham. Videos of the scene emerged on social media, showing cars with engines running as they passed through large crowds. The driver of at least one car performed stunts, making donuts with the front doors open as a group of spectators cheered.
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan took to Twitter to denounce the rally on Sunday night, asking residents not to be neglectful “now that we can see the light at the end of this long tunnel.”
“We’re about to get back to some level of normalcy,” Ryan said. “Don’t do the rest of our community a disservice. “
“Simply wrong on so many levels,” says Mayor of Pickering
In a telephone interview with CBC News, Ryan said the meeting was a “total disregard for society” and “just plain wrong in many ways.”
Provincial COVID-19 restrictions currently in place limit outdoor gatherings to a maximum of five people.
Ryan said the rally violated COVID-19 restrictions, disrupted the community with noise and traffic, and put people at risk.
“I don’t understand the mentality associated with [the gathering], quite frankly, ”Ryan said.
Come on guys. We know the lockdown has been difficult for all of us. However, let’s not be carefree especially now that we can see the light at the end of this long tunnel. We are on the verge of returning to a certain level of normality. Don’t do the rest of our community a disservice. https://t.co/cC6APPROkj
Police said they were aware of the event on Sunday and are monitoring the situation. Insp. Sean Sitaram said CBC News agents reminded attendees of the provincial restrictions.
Video posted to social media did not show police presence at the afternoon event, but several cruisers appeared in videos posted later that night.
Sitaram said officers were finally able to dispel the crowds, but some residents said the process took far too long.
CBC Toronto attempted to contact several organizers named on an online poster promoting Sunday’s event. None immediately responded to requests for comment.
“It was heartbreaking to see,” says a resident
Jacqueline Willis, a Pickering resident, said her friends sent her pictures of what was happening on Sunday night.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she told CBC Toronto. “It was heartbreaking to see because here we are trying to [stick] at the prime minister’s orders and stay home… and then something like that happens. ”
Willis, who said she frequents the Walmart where the rally was held, owns a dance studio in Pickering that has been closed throughout the pandemic. She held virtual classes to comply with COVID-19 restrictions and said people who attended the rally on Sunday were selfish.
“The community around you is doing the right thing… and this type of activity is now going to delay us,” she said.
Willis said the video she saw shows “hundreds and hundreds of people” and “you could see how close they were and how many were unmasked.” She thought the police should have shut down the rally as soon as it started.
Why was it not stopped when it started? Why is this correct? I’m sure they’re not just from Pickering or Durham so now they’re putting this community at risk 🙄
& mdash;@ ndfdk84
Some people online have criticized what they called Durham Police’s slow reaction time.
In a separate tweet, Ryan said police issued tickets and dispersed the crowd towards dusk. He said he felt the situation was “too volatile” to attempt to do so when the crowds were at their peak.
Ryan said he expects further charges to be laid pending inquiries.
On Monday, Durham Police tweeted that a man was injured at the rally “as a result of a physical confrontation”.
Also on Monday, police confirmed that some tickets had been distributed, but they did not say how much. They said they were not aware of any charges or arrests in connection with the rally at this point and that they would “follow up on this matter”.