As fans take to streets to watch Raptors in Game 4, police say safety plan is in place
As fans take to the streets of downtown Toronto to watch the Raptors take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 with a 2-1 lead in the series, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders says the city has a safety plan in place.
“Our plan is always to make it an entertainment sporting event rather than a security event,” he said on Friday morning, more than 12 hours before tipoff. “However, the ability to transition over, we can do that if necessary.”
Saunders said the “vast majority” of Torontonians are “fun-loving” in their celebrations, but added that some fans go “past that line.”
“Use your compass a little bit better or else there is a good chance that you will get charged,” he warned.
His cautionary comes in the wake of two people facing charges after a police officer was allegedly threatened to death while the cruiser he was operating was jumped on in the area of Yonge and Dundas streets last month.
Thousands of fans celebrated in the streets on May 25 after the Raptors won the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks, making it to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Video of the celebration at the busy downtown square showed an officer attempt to arrest one of several males seen jumping on top of his cruiser at around 11:30 p.m. He was unsuccessful in the arrest as the crowd is seen swarming him and one of the males allegedly threatened to kill him. Police said the officer then got into his vehicle as he was concerned for his safety.
Following the incident, investigators said they were searching for seven suspects wanted in connection with the case and released images of them.
Back on May 29, 19-year-old Yoel Martinez-Hernandez turned himself into police and was subsequently charged with one count of mischief.
Then on Thursday, Cesar Ortiz-Rojas turned himself into investigators and was also charged with one count of mischief.
Police said five suspects remain outstanding, one of which is wanted for threatening death to an officer.
Saunders said the officer involved handled the situation well as he did not engage.
“I’ve always said that training is an investment and it is those moments and those opportunities where those trainings align really well and through the actions everything works out really well,” he said.
“The city works well. We know what we are doing. The odds of having to call in the enforcements are slim to nil. A lot of these things get played out by themselves – it’s like the ‘drunk uncle at the wedding thing.’”
Fans began lining up to get a spot at Jurassic Park, just outside of Sctoiabank Arena, early on Friday morning to cheer on the Toronto Raptors at the tailgate party.
Tipoff goes at 9 p.m. and gates to Jurassic Park open at 7 p.m.
Road closers will be in effect in the downtown core to accommodate the large crowd. Bremner Boulevard will be closed between Lake Shore Boulevard and York Street from 7 a.m. until midnight. While York Street will be closed between Lake Shore Boulevard and Front Street and Bremner Boulevard will be closed between Lower Simcoe and York Street from 1 p.m. until midnight.
The City of Toronto is advising drivers to expect delays all around Scotiabank Arena throughout the entire evening.