A group of Penticton residents have planned a protest Friday, March 5, 2020 at Gyro Park to voice their concerns over city council’s refusal to allow a temporary winter shelter to stay open. (Google Maps photo)

A group of Penticton residents have planned a protest Friday, March 5, 2020 at Gyro Park to voice their concerns over city council’s refusal to allow a temporary winter shelter to stay open. (Google Maps photo)

Penticton protest to go on despite police warning

Desiree Franz says she’s willing to accept the risk of being fined by RCMP

The organizer behind a protest in Penticton is not backing down despite warnings from police.

Desiree Franz is the organizer behind the protest planned Friday (March 5) at Gyro Park over city council’s decision to deny BC Housing’s request to keep a temporary winter shelter open a year longer than originally planned.

She said she’s willing to accept the fact she may be fined under COVID-19 regulations.

“This population has historically been fined for existing, so if I have to be fined for standing up for them I guess it’s my turn,” she said.

Franz contacted the RCMP herself this morning (March 4) to inform them that the protest would be taking place. The RCMP then warned her that she could potentially be fined and shut-down for organizing a large gathering during COVID-19 restrictions.

Police also sent out a media release, warning of fines and repercussions for people thinking of attending the protest.

READ MORE: Penticton RCMP warn of potential fines for Friday’s protest in Gyro Park

Franz does not have an estimate of how many people she expects at the protest, planned for 2 p.m. tomorrow at Gyro Park. However, she said at least 40 people showed up to a planning event held Wednesday night.

“To do my due diligence I decided to give them (RCMP) a heads up that this is going on and through that phone call they gave me some warnings that I could be fined,” Franz said. “I talked with my team and called them back and said I’m going to go forward with this.”

So far, she has been overwhelmed by the response and support she has received — particularly in a community she sees as having traditionally taken an “oppressive” view on the issues at hand.

“It’s so refreshing to know that I’m not alone in this,” she said. “I think traditionally this community has taken a really oppressive view-point on the marginalized population so I wasn’t expecting the turn-out and support that I’ve received.”

Franz said she has taken many steps to ensure the COVID-19 protocols will be followed at the protest. She has put together a “care team” of at least a dozen people who plan to walk around the protest and make sure that people are adhering to COVID regulations. She has also been adamant that all attendees must wear masks and social distance.

“There’s no intent for it to be anything other than a peaceful protest,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Bring your tent’: Protest planned in Penticton’s Gyro Park over winter shelter closure



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

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