Police call reinforcements as street-racing group draws hundreds in Hamilton area
Apparently not everyone is getting the message about the new limits on social gatherings.
Hamilton police had to call in reinforcement, to help them break up a gathering of an estimated 500 vehicles, with an estimated 1,000 people in attendance, in Ancaster Saturday night - all crowded into a local movie theatre parking lot at 771 Golf Links Road around 6 p.m. In fact, the crowd was so large that vehicles reportedly spilled onto neighbouring properties.
Officers were tipped off, ahead of an alleged street-racing event that was planned in the area.
Sunday afternoon, police provided an update on the gathering and why no charges have been laid, so far.
"At that time, the need...to disperse that crowd and to have those people out of that crowd-like setting outweighed the need to stop individual people, cause as you can imagine, stopping all of those individuals and issuing fines, just exacerbates the size and duration of that gathering and our goal at that time, as it is often with crowd control situations is to disperse the crowd and we follow-up, investigate later and lay charges - we've done that in the past," said Superintendent Will Mason.
Officers from Peel and York Region, as well as the OPP worked alongside Hamilton Police to disperse the entire crowd by 10 p.m.
No charges or fines have been issued, so far.
Police say the crowd was mostly cooperative when asked to leave the area.
"So, the goal was to disperse the crowd as quickly as possible. That said, we absolutely think the actions last night, in light of the concern with COVID-19, are abhorrent. The participants should be ashamed of themselves and if we can identify them and we are able to lay charges down the road, we will certainly be doing that," said Supt. Mason.
Police will continue their efforts to identify organizers of the event. They are appealing to anyone with information to come forward.
Meantime, they'll be searching through social media to try and track down those responsible.
The event came on the same day the province announced it was extending outdoor gathering limits to 25 and indoor gathering limits to 10 people provincewide, in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19, following the spike in coronavirus case numbers in recent days.
Premier Doug Ford issued a statement in response to the crowd ignoring provincial restrictions. It reads, in part:
"The reckless behaviour that we saw in Ancaster last night was totally unacceptable. While Ontario, has made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, we cannot take that progress for granted. This fight isn't over and now is not the time to let our guard down."
Meantime, a group called "NorthsideCrew", which has been posting video and images on social media from last night's event in Ancaster, say they were not the organizers. Our media partner CP24 received a statement from the group. It reads, in part:
"We did not organize the event that happend (sic) in the Ancaster area last night. We do not know who organized this event as we just happend (sic) to see it over social media. We only attended the event with less than 25 crew members and with social distancing guidelines followed as well. With members wearing masks. We are not responsible for this event and hope that we can clarify this to whomever it may concern."