If you’ve got plans to march downtown on Friday, you won’t have to worry about getting fined. That’s the message coming from the City of Ottawa this week, as they confirmed that people attending Ottawa’s anti-racism protest will be exempt from tickets, despite a provincial ban on public gatherings. The peaceful rally is scheduled for Friday.

Speaking on June 3, Anthony Di Monte, Ottawa’s general manager of community and protective services, confirmed that police would be present at Ottawa’s anti-racism march on Friday, but would not be handing out fines or tickets related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the current state of emergency in Ontario, gatherings of more than five are prohibited, but Friday’s march is expected to draw thousands.

Per CTV News, Di Monte explained, "the City is not permitting or sanctioning the event, per se." 

He continued, "We're in a state of emergency and groups of [more than] five are not permitted. That said, there's a balance. We live in a democracy. Groups of people are expressing themselves and they're allowed to do that.”

Di Monte went on to confirm that police won't be issuing tickets related to COVID-19. “Our simple role will be to ensure public safety."

To help make physical distancing easier for demonstrators, Ottawa will also be closing some roads during the event.

While Di Monte clarified the City was not “authorizing or sanctioning the event,” he noted that there is currently no planned intervention, and no plans to stop the protest.

"Our objective here is to ensure public safety, so they can express themselves in a democratic way,” he said.

Ottawa’s protest follows similar action in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Supporters around the world are marching against police brutality following the death of George Floyd.

While some violence did break out following Sunday’s protest in Montreal, the majority of events have been peaceful and without incident.

Di Monte described the upcoming protest as an “exceptional circumstance,” and noted the public health risks associated with the event, given the current pandemic. 

“I would encourage people not to do this on a regular basis until we resolve this COVID threat that we have," he said.

Ottawa’s march is scheduled for Friday, June 3, beginning at 3 p.m.

*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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