Crowds fill B.C. legislature lawn as anti-mandate convoy returns to Victoria

Covid National

Saturday’s protest was billed as a “pro-democracy rally” with We Unify Canada and members of the “freedom convoy” movement.

By Cindy Harnett
As originally posted in The Times Colonist

A weekly protest against pandemic health restrictions filled the front lawn of the legislature and Belleville Street on Saturday.

Saturday’s protest was billed as a “pro-democracy rally” with We Unify Canada and members of the “freedom convoy” movement. Participants were expected to march and drive through downtown Victoria following speeches at the legislature.

Victoria police say at its peak the crowd grew to an estimated 7,000 people.

Officers from several capital region police departments were on the scene.

Bowen Osoko, conducting community engagement for Victoria police, said a truck that stopped on Belleville Street was moved along but it temporarily forced officers to reduce traffic to one lane. Entrance to Belleville was halted, essentially shutting down the street.

Once Belleville was closed to new traffic, the street in front of the legislature emptied and crowds were contained to the lawn. The blare of horns and other noise stopped as the speeches started.

B.C. Transit buses that normally end at the legislature were diverted because of the protest.

Officers were pulling over vehicles and warning drivers about noise and other matters. Police and city bylaw officers can now slap people honking their horns with immediate tickets for as much as $125, which will be reduced to $75 if paid within 30 days.

Osoko said a few tickets were issued but there were many more warnings.

“Our approach is de-escalate and then enforcement,” he said. “We may see more tickets issued after the fact.”

No arrests were made during the protest.

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