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More than 100 tickets to be issued following downtown Calgary car rally

Global News logo Global News 2021-05-19 Heide Pearson
a person walking down a street next to a car: An estimated 100 tickets are expected to be handed out following a large car rally in downtown Calgary on the weekend. © Global News An estimated 100 tickets are expected to be handed out following a large car rally in downtown Calgary on the weekend.

More than 100 tickets are being handed out to attendees of a car rally that rolled through downtown Calgary on the weekend.

According to police, organizers of the pro-Palestinian rally told officials about 200 cars would be in the Sunday rally, and would travel along a route outlined with the input of the city's major events and emergency management section, through the downtown.

Read more: Pro-Palestinian, Israel demonstrations held in Edmonton amid rising Middle East violence

"However, during the event, the rally grew to an estimated 1,000 vehicles that deviated from the planned route and caused significant traffic congestion along with safety concerns throughout the downtown over a five-hour period," police said Wednesday.

"At the time of the rally, officers worked hard to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other motorists, while collecting evidence of serious safety issues and Traffic Safety Act infractions."

Safety concerns and Traffic Act violations included:

Vehicles driving on the wrong side of the road

Vehicles running red lights

Blocking intersections for long times

Drivers using cell phones while driving

People, including children, hanging from windows and sunroofs

Stunting, firing of flares and fireworks from vehicles and within crowds

Significant noise into the night leading to complaints from residents

Police said 911 received more than 50 calls from citizens "concerned for their safety and upset by the significant disruption to their community."

Evidence of the stunting and traffic violations were captured on body-worn cameras, in-vehicle cameras and traffic light cameras.

Police said trying to issue the tickets at the time of the rally "may have resulted in escalating the situation with the large group." Two people were arrested at the rally -- one for mischief to property and one for a fight.

"While we appreciate the decision of rally organizers to consider an approach that adheres to current public health orders, all rally participants are required to abide by traffic laws and the safety of fellow pedestrians and motorists must remain a priority," the police said.

Video: Calgarians express fear, concern amid escalating Israel-Palestine conflict

The police said the tickets are "not meant to paint all those that participated in the rally with the same brush."

"The violation tickets are being issued based solely on the behaviours of the participants who failed to adhere to traffic laws and risked their own safety or that of others," CPS said,

"We also appreciate that it can be difficult for organizers of these events to fully anticipate the number of attendees and convey all of the agreed upon rules of engagement to all participants."

Read more: Calgary joins rallies across Canada calling to ‘Stop Asian Hate’

The CPS said it vowed to continue working with organizers of events like the pro-Palestine rally, allowing for people to exercise their right to freedom of expression without putting attendees, members of the public or police officers on the scenes at risk.

"We would like to stress the importance of protest organizers reaching out to work with us in the planning," police said.

"It is not uncommon for attendance at these events to exceed the estimates, which can make them very difficult to manage on the ground."


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