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Charges pending after Belleville anti-lockdown rally: police chief

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Friday’s anti-lockdown rally in Belleville “absolutely” involved illegal activity and charges are pending, Belleville’s police chief says.

“We have commenced an investigation and will be looking at proceeding with charges this week against some of the individuals that we were able to identify,” Chief Mike Callaghan told The Intelligencer Monday in a telephone interview.

Callaghan said 150 to 200 people gathered Friday afternoon at West Zwick’s Centennial Park for a rally against lockdowns and other pandemic measures.

As reported Friday, they then gathered, largely without masks or physical distancing, in the Lion’s Club pavilion before marching to city hall.

Callaghan said the police response to the gatherings was intended to balance rights to free speech with public safety.

“It gets down, at the end of the day, to common sense and looking at the safety of the community, looking at the safety of the demonstrators, looking at the safety of the officers, while understanding and appreciating the fact that some individuals have broken the law and need to be held accountable accordingly,” he said.

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