Phil Gavin, the media relations officer for the Niagara Regional Police, says there will likely be a meeting between the groups involved in the horse and carriage protests to review a year-old protocol agreement.
Last summer, Insp. Jim McCaffery met with then-Lord Mayor Pat Darte, Laura Sentineal, protesters of horse-drawn carriages and counter-protestors who support the local carriage business, to work out a protocol that would keep demonstrations on Old Town streets peaceful and safe for all.
Gavin explained such an agreement is a set of guidelines arrived at with input from both sides and intended to work for everybody involved.
Insp. James McCaffery, reached an agreement between groups on issues such as not blocking the sidewalk, giving protesters a set location, asking them to keep an agreed-upon distance from carriages, and both sides keeping a set distance from each other.
In a protest such as the one in NOTL, said Gavin, people on both sides are passionate about their beliefs and “not everybody gets what they want.” The goal is to balance the needs of both sides and “try to find a middle ground.”
Protesters have a charter right to be there, he said, and the job of the police is to try to keep the peace.
He says there are efforts being made to bring all parties involved to the table for talks “in a neutral location” to review the protocol set a year ago.
“It’s a good-faith document, not legally binding,” he said.
The difficulty in keeping to those guidelines is often because of the number of people who get involved in the protests, who may not abide by the protocol in day-to-day situations, he said.
As for the police pressing charges in the incident involving projecting photos on the Cenotaph, he explained, “they reviewed the evidence with the Crown, and also had a look at intent,” said Gavin.
They came to the conclusion that the intent was to educate the public, not to cause any damage or mischief to the war memorial.