Saskatoon police say they are reviewing their response to a protest outside Prairieland Park Thursday evening.
Demonstrators from different unions and community groups gathered at the venue ahead of Premier Brad Wall’s fundraising dinner. Some waved signs in front of windshields, booing and yelling at drivers attending the event.
Speaking on John Gormley Live Friday morning, Insp. Patrick Nogier said police were on scene shortly after 3 p.m. to assess the situation.
“We thought we had resources that were adequate at that time,” he said.
A special event application indicated only 200 protesters were expected, but as the day wore on it became apparent more would be attending.
“I wish we had a crystal ball to let us know exactly how big these events will get,” he said. “Later in the day we noticed the volume was increasing dramatically.”
Nogier said every entrance to Prairieland Park was targeted by protesters, creating “hotspots.”
“Our officers were doing what they could to quell activity,” he said.
At the main protest point, the entrance at Ruth Street and Herman Avenue, nearly 300 people protested and blocked vehicles starting shortly before 5 p.m.
Uniformed officers didn’t arrive at the intersection until 6:15 p.m.
Nogier said they’ll be speaking to officers and reviewing video to determine if the response was “adequate.”
CONCERN OVER ‘VOLATILE’ SITUATION
Daryl Cooper was one of the 1,000 attendees at the premier’s dinner and drove through the throng of protestors.
“We were swarmed with protest signs right away and they jumped on my hood,” he said. “They started yelling the f-bomb at me, my dad and my son. I also got a few scuff marks on my vehicle.”
Cooper said he was concerned protesters would fall in front of his car and fake injuries. He told 650 CKOM he has since filed a complaint with police and spoke with Insp. Nogier.
Protest organizer Cindy Hanson said the event was a “very positive experience,” adding people have expressed they are happy her group is building a movement.
Hanson told 650 CKOM she didn’t feel the protest got out of control.
“These cuts put people at their breaking point, but nobody in the organizing committee condones violence,” she said. “The only time I felt fear was when a car was pushing on people – several thousand pounds pushing on people.”
According to Hanson, Saskatoon police thanked the group for “how we handled people after the rally,” adding more events are being scheduled.
“We have a week of events in Regina next week, but I can’t tell you everything,” she said.
Nogier offered a reason as to why no arrests were made at the protest, even after demonstrators sat and laid on the hoods of vehicles.
“Sometimes we’ve seen these things get very volatile very quickly,” he said.
“Police intervene, they grab one individual that they know is responsible for a criminal offence, and that turns into something that becomes quickly out of our control.”
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) April 28, 2017
Nogier said police are investigating footage from the protest to see if any charges should be laid.
“If you look at those videos, they are definitely worthy of investigation,” he said.
“Unarguably there’s different sections there where at the time officers certainly could’ve stepped in.”
He said police are asking anyone with evidence to come forward.
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel and JT Marshall.