First-ever charges laid in ongoing horse carriage protests in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Police say they’ve laid charges in an altercation connected to on-going protests of the horse-drawn carriage businesses in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., (NOTL).

Investigators say a 37-year-old NOTL resident turned himself in on Wednesday and is facing an assault and theft charge after he became involved with a protester on the afternoon of July 25.

The alleged assault happened around 1 p.m. near King and Picton streets about a half-hour after a protester approached a carriage and expressed his concerns to the accused and his family who had been riding in a horse-drawn carriage.

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Neither party was injured. Detectives say officers recovered a cell phone and a sign, which were property of the protester.

 

Last week, a day before the incident, a Niagara Falls district commander pleaded with all parties in the ongoing dispute to enter into ‘meaningful discussions’ to maintain ‘public peace and safety.’

“We will maintain our neutrality and continue to manage the situation using discretion, education and –where required– enforcement,” 2 District Commander Insp. James McCaffery said in a statement on July 24.

Protests have been going on since 2017, according to police, and have been centralized to the downtown area of Niagara-On-The-Lake.

 

During the three years, investigators say counter-protesters have begun turning up in support of the carriage businesses by staging their own demonstrations.

Police say they have been taking part in negotiations with all protesters through meetings in consecutive years between 2018 and 2019. However, proposed peace agreements have gone unsigned.

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The assault on Saturday was the first reported violence or charges of any kind tied to the protests.

Anyone with information on the July 25 assault can reach investigators at 905-688-4111, extension 2200.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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