Police Chief Evan Bray of the Regina Police Service admitted the protesters that were set up outside of Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab’s home on Saturday is a group Regina police are acquainted with.
Bray spoke about the protest and the response from members of the Regina Police Service following Monday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting in Regina. He noted that officers have had many discussions with this group in the past, especially around the Saskatchewan Legislative Building and T.C. Douglas Building.
However Bray explained how officers responded immediately when they learned the group was in a residential area – an area they realized the chief medical health officer’s home is located.
“This was in front of someone’s personal home and that seems a lot different than protesting on the intersection of 23rd Avenue and Albert Street,” stated Bray.
He did not know whether Shahab and his family members were home at the time of the protest, but mentioned that he has had multiple conversations with Shahab since the event including that day. Bray also shared that many of his neighbours that were home were very protective of Shahab and their neighbourhood, and that they voiced their concerns to police.
Bray said it’s an emotional issue for many, which is why it’s important for his police service to navigate the investigation in a way that keeps the community safe. He understands there might be members of the public that wanted to see police bust up an unruly crowd, but he did not consider it to be an unruly crowd.
“They were protesting something that I think I can say the majority of our population doesn’t agree with. That’s not me telling you what my opinion is, that’s just telling you what I have been hearing on social media,” he continued.
“But at the end of the day, they even had their faces covered in winter gear, they were in groups that were not contradicting the public health order. So for police to go there and take some sort of action likely would be putting our police officers offside with what their authority is.”
He mentioned that people want to live in a society where police are not abusing their authority and are arresting people for no good reason, which he said Saturday’s protest is one of those cases.
The investigation into Saturday’s protest is ongoing.