WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Police Service has issued the following statement on the vaccine mandate protest at the legislature:
The Winnipeg Police Service has a long history of overseeing large, planned and unplanned events. We have managed crowds where thousands have gathered in our downtown. On occasion, large unplanned events with a broad range of causes occur, but being responsive to the community, we work to balance the rights of all involved. This often shows itself with WPS resources supporting an event that may not be supported by a parade permit or respective legislation. Communication is vital with all parties, and this has proven to be successful in concluding these events peacefully over many years.
On Friday, February 4, 2022, a large group gathered for a protest event in the area of the Manitoba Legislature. The Winnipeg Police Service became aware of this event several days in advance, and a direct line of communication was established at that time. That line of communication has proven to be beneficial and has supported a respectful and productive series of conversations.
The WPS recognizes that these types of operations that balance public safety objectives with public expectations leave many citizens and, in some cases, community leaders with concerns stemming from a lack of understanding of police operations. The WPS is not in a position to discuss details of our operations, but they are conducted to achieve a peaceful resolution. The success of the WPS response to these styles of events is represented by hundreds of peacefully concluded protests in years past.
The WPS has a full-time presence in the area to ensure public safety for all. We continue to work with organizers to ensure a balance between their objectives and the safety, security, and wellbeing of others in the downtown.
Some of the questions posed to the WPS in the past few days include, why don't police forcefully break up the protesting crowds?
While some citizens may be frustrated with protests or the related messaging, we continue to liaise with organizers to mitigate some points of friction like noise contamination. Police must attempt to balance the Charter Rights of all involved and are obligated to allow citizens to have areas to share their views.
Why don't participants receive tickets for traffic or noise disruptions?
Police consider several factors when taking enforcement action, including the impact on the event participants' behaviour and the outcomes which may result. In some instances, enforcement action is taken at the time, and sometimes it occurs at a later time. Enforcement action is not always apparent to the general public.
Is the WPS experiencing the same protest challenges that other jurisdictions are facing?
WPS has not seen the level of disruption that other cities have experienced. At this time, the WPS is confident that it has the resources and relationships to manage this event safely.