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Dec. 7, 2019 | Saturday
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Police inspector to address horse protests Monday
Locals for Carriages rally around one of the Sentineals' horses last Sunday. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Niagara Regional Police Insp. James McCaffery will be at Niagara-on-the-Lake council's meeting on Monday, July 15, to address the conflict between horse-drawn carriage supporters and an animal rights activist group.

Public questions to the inspector regarding protests can be sent to Coun. Clare Cameron but the questions will be monitored as not all of them can be discussed in a public setting, Lord Mayor Betty Disero said at a special committee of the whole meeting Wednesday.

The dispute, which pits protesters from At War For Animals Niagara against Sentineal Carriages and a residents' support group called Locals for Carriages, has been going on for more than a year. Coun. Gary Burroughs said the protest is starting to become offensive and he’s concerned residents are going to push back.

A permit for protests is required if a demonstration or a rally involves a street or a park closure, DIsero said. But there’s nothing the town can do when it comes to only three or four people protesting on the corner, she noted, adding the town will continue looking for solutions, leaving “no stone unturned.”

“The more people go on social media and provoke and create videos … the more oxygen they give the protesters. And the more attention they get and the more oxygen they get, the less likely they are to go away or to stop,“ Disero said.

“I realize how frustrating it is for members of the public but we have to put it in perspective," she told council. "If we continue to allow this to escalate, they will go from three or four protesters to marches, rallies and demonstrations. And that’s what we don’t want."

Meetings will be held with protesters and supporters, separately and together, said Disero, and, as people are starting to go “over the edge a little bit,” a new protocol between two parties could be reviewed and set.

Coun. Erwin Wiens said it it is the responsibility of police to keep the peace, not the town.

“Sometimes I feel we, as a council, take responsibility that is not ours,” he said. “Our responsibility is to govern and the police department’s job is to police. That’s my two cents.”

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