After concerns were raised by Regina protesters, police are confirming a man with a knife had tried to set up his own camp at Wascana Park.
Regina police Chief Evan Bray has stated publicly the police will not forcibly remove the protesters who have set up teepees at the camp in violation of the city bylaw against camping.
On Monday, members of the Justice for our Stolen Children Camp said the man who set up a popup tent with a “free camping” sign on the weekend was actively threatening them and brandishing a knife.
“He was brandishing a knife. He was also doing Nazi salutes and trying to intimidate the campers,” Robin Pitawanakwat told a reporter with 980 CJME, speaking on behalf of the camp. “We’ve been a peaceful protest this whole time and there were children very close to him when he had his knife out.”
Following requests by 980 CJME, Regina police issued an emailed statement about the incident on Tuesday to confirm officers were called out on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. by someone identifying as a member of the protest camp.
Police confiscated a knife after speaking with the 56-year-old man but they did not arrest or forcibly remove him from the site.
Officers advised the man he was free to remain in the park but any alleged threats will be investigated.
“Officers took the knife; the male voluntarily packed up his belongings and left without further incident,” the police wrote in an email.
On Monday, Pitawanakwat maintained the group welcomes people who disagree with them and would also be comfortable with other protesters making camp there. She said they welcome conversations but bringing a knife crosses the line into “actively threatening.”
In response to those who maintain the group is still breaking a law and should be removed by police, Pitawanakwat said bylaws like the one they are breaking are a minor offence and technically other people break them all the time.
“There are a lot of laws being broken. There are treaty laws being broken as well and that’s not on our part. There are charter rights being broken if we’re removed,” she said.
Regina police stated they are in regular communication with “stakeholders” about the decision to not enforce the no camping bylaw for the protesters.
“The goal of the police service is to maintain public safety while facilitating resolution of the concerns of all involved,” the email said. “Keeping the peace is active work even if it is not always visible to the public.”