Freedom protests continued in downtown despite court order


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A temporary court order invoked by police did not stop a few thousand Calgarians from making their voices heard on Saturday as “freedom” protesters continue their fight against remaining COVID-19 mandates.

A large group first gathered at Olympic Plaza around 1pm before marching down Stephen Avenue and ending up at a Harley Hotchkiss Park, which is earmarked for public demonstrations.

The order currently prohibits blocking traffic or operating unlicensed vendor stands in Central Memorial Park or other areas.

It also prohibits excessive noise, including the unnecessary sound of horns or other audible warning devices. Still, protesters like Mandy Wild say this won’t stop her from making her voice heard.

“The order is not okay,” she said.

“So we just run like Albertans do. Tell us not to do one, we’ll do the other and move on.”

Several protesters confirmed to CTV News that they are concerned about the threat of a resumption of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the possible extension of vaccine passports, quarantine or testing requirements.

Among those in attendance was Bradley Dezall, a “freedom” protester who called for the abolition of vaccine mandates that prevent him and others from finding work.

“I’m not against anyone wanting to get vaccinated. I just think it has to be a choice and that’s what we’re all fighting for here, which is people’s choice to choose their own medical autonomy,” he said.

“A lot of people have lost their jobs because of this, and a lot of people are currently in very difficult situations, families have been devastated and unfortunately the government that was set up to help protect us is not doing its job and we’re just very frustrated about it.”

Logan Anderson agrees that vaccination mandates have diminished his quality of life. He was fired for not being vaccinated and now unable to travel.

“I have a place in Phoenix, and I’d love to travel there because I watch spring practice baseball every year. I haven’t been able to do that here this year, just because I’m not vaccinated and I don’t think that right,” Anderson said.

“So that’s why I’m here. We don’t break any laws, I want peace, love and unity, and I just want everyone to be back together.”

Similar protests also took place Saturday afternoon in Prince’s Island Park, where several truck drivers attended to express concerns about QR codes still used to cross the Canada-US border.

Jacqueline Davidson has been driving big trucks for 12 years. She has been doubly vaccinated but is still concerned about her privacy.

“We’re supposed to show our QR code when we arrive at the border on our phones, but the border tells us it shows up on their computers as early as 20 minutes before we get there without a warrant or even asking permission to enter . country,” she said.

“I just think that’s wrong. It’s a privacy issue. Some people can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons, and why lose their jobs if they’ve been doing it safely for two years?”

POLICE CONTINUE TO INCREASE ENFORCEMENT

Police officers in Calgary spent most of the afternoon on Saturday responding to demonstrations in City Hall, Harley Hotchkiss Park and Prince’s Island Park, but most protesters were peaceful.

By 3:30 p.m., police had arrested just one person for violating the warrant and distributed several tickets to drivers of vehicles in the center that honked excessively in connection with demonstrations.

The police liaison teams say they have continued to work with protest organizers to ensure they are aware of the current ban conditions, which were mainly met in all three protest areas.

Officers watched groups as protesters from Harley Hotchkiss Park made their way back to City Hall and noted that the warrant’s rules were being followed.

On Saturday night, police said a second person had been arrested for two outstanding house searches.

In addition, officials have issued one subpoena for violating the warrant and 25 tickets, including 23 for excessive honking, one for illegal drone use and one for operating an unlicensed business stall. A vehicle was towed to the impounded property because it was not registered, police said.

“More tickets are expected based on evidence gathered during the demonstrations,” CPS said in a statement Saturday night.

RESIDENTS BELTLINE HAPPY WITH RESPONSE TO PROTESTS

Residents of the Beltline neighborhood were happy that their community was no longer filled with “freedom” protesters as protesters gathered in other parts of the city.

Hunter Yaworski with Community Solidarity Calgary held a ‘Read a Book’ event in Central Memorial Park, inviting residents to enjoy the area again.

“People should be able to use this beautiful park on a Saturday afternoon and not have to worry about being harassed or surrounded by hateful kind of vitriol,” he said.

“We’re glad the people gathered here last week, that the community gathered at the Beltline and on 17th Avenue to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.”

Other community members, such as Alyssa Quinney, helped set up a sign to support health professionals at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Center across the street.

“I think it’s a nice change of scenery for the people who work there,” she said.

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