by Chris Kitching (@CP24)
Amid concerns about safety and gun violence in Toronto, spectators in the bleachers at the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival parade will be searched for the first time, organizers say. Stephen Weir, a festival organizer, told CP24 the decision to search bags belonging to some attendees at next month’s event follows the “unfair linkage” between recent gun violence and the summer carnival. More than 600 private security officers have been hired to look for “anything that isn’t allowed,” including weapons, alcohol and illicit drugs, he said.
Weir said it’s impossible to search everyone at the Aug. 4 parade because so many people attend, so security will only search a maximum of 20,000 people who paid to sit in bleachers set up along the parade route. According to organizers, previous parades have drawn a million people. Tickets for seats in the bleachers are usually bought by seniors, families and tourists, said Weir, who doesn’t think security will find any guns, alcohol or drugs in the searches. I don’t expect we’ll find one thing,” he told CP24.
As for the thousands of people who will not be subject to searches along the parade route, Weir said the festival’s security officers do not have the right to search people on a public street. Violent incidents have occurred at the parade in the past, including a shooting that killed one person and wounded two others in 2011. The decision to conduct searches comes amid growing concerns about safety in the wake of several shootings in Toronto.
Last week, four people were killed and more than 25 were wounded in shooting incidents across the city. Toronto police will also have an eye on the parade. Spokesman Const. Victor Kwong said officers will have an increased presence at this event and other events around Toronto. Kwong said festival organizers have the right to order searches of parade attendees. “If you are paying to go to this event you fall under their rules,” Kwong told CP24’s Sue Sgambati. Kwong likened the searches to those conducted at a large sporting event or concert.