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Toronto police officers facing charges after attending large church gathering

Two members of the Toronto Police Service are now facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act for violating lockdown orders to attend a gathering at a church in the small town of Aylmer on Tuesday evening.

The church in question, Church Of God Restoration, is about two hours southwest of Toronto and has been the site of repeated anti-lockdown activity as pastors continue to host large indoor gatherings and services that flout pandemic restrictions.

The event the off-duty cops attended at the place of worship was reported to be yet another "large gathering" that a member of the public had called in to Aylmer police to complain about.

A total of eighteen individuals were found at the building, unmasked not socially distancing. The current limit for religious services during the emergency shutdown is 10 people indoors or out.

When local officials arrived, they and their Toronto counterparts engaged in a heated dispute, which led to the charges against the downtown officers, as well as two other attendees.

In the portion of the encounter that was caught on video and posted to social media by controversial Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston MPP and noted anti-masker Randy Hillier, the gatherers can be heard saying that the Aylmer authorities who arrived on the scene were "harassing people" and "breaking the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms]."

"I'm enforcing the rules," one of the two local cops replied. "You've identified yourself as police officers here and you're breaking the law."

According to Hillier's post, the offending officers were "practicing their right to assembly" rather than attending an actual religious service of some kind.

During the footage, which shows only one portion of the conversation, the Toronto cops challenge the authority of their small-town peers, saying they approached the situation by going "from zero to 100" and acting from a place of ego.

"I've been an officer for two decades and I would never put on a uniform and behave the way you do in a place of religion," one of those charged says.

"When you have to go to authority in an autocratic way, your gift of communication sucks, sorry to tell you that. This is not how officers of the law behave."

They also called the Aylmer officer "a disgrace to the uniform" when he refused to disclose his badge number, adding that the authorities were the ones breaking the law for violating human rights, trespassing and harassing patrons of a church on private property.

As one of the Aylmer force aptly said during the interaction, "court is the venue to deal with it" — and that's exactly where the two TPS officers will be heading.

Individuals found defying any orders under the Reopening Ontario Act or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act can be fined anywhere from $750 to $100,000, plus jail time.

Lead photo by

Randy Hillier

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