Anti-mask protesters cause disturbance on B.C. ferry ahead of Vancouver ‘freedom rally’

BC Ferries was forced to delay unloading a vessel in Nanaimo on Saturday, after a group of anti-mask protesters became belligerent. Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press

A group of anti-mask protesters has been banned from BC Ferries for the rest of the day after causing a disturbance on a morning sailing from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay.

It came several hours before the first of two days of protests in Vancouver organized by anti-mask activists.

The incident happened on the 8:30 a.m. sailing of the Queen of Oak Bay, according to BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.

A group of unmasked protesters who boarded in separate vehicles became belligerent and harassed masked passengers, said Marshall.

Unloading of the vessel was delayed as BC Ferries waited for West Vancouver police to arrive, she added.

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West Vancouver police said the incident involved up to 50 protesters, who became “verbally aggressive” with other passengers.

However, police said the conduct did not cross over into criminality, and no one was arrested.

Marshall said the company was able to identify at least 12 people who had been given a ban.

In downtown Vancouver Saturday afternoon, anti-mask activists held the first of two “freedom mega rallies.”

Posters for the event said it is in opposition to “censorship, lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine mandates” and a list of other grievances.


Click to play video: 'British Columbians opposed to wearing masks hold Vancouver protest'
British Columbians opposed to wearing masks hold Vancouver protest


Vancouver police estimated about 1,000 people attended Saturday’s event at its peak.

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Advertised speakers included a number of prominent anti-vaccine activists, along with conspiracy theorist David Icke, who is accused of anti-Semitic views and promotes the belief the world is controlled by a secret cabal of reptilian humanoids.

READ MORE: ‘This is not the time to be selfish’: How face masks became a mirror of humanity amid COVID-19

A Vancouver anti-mask protest in September drew up to 700 people, including supporters of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory which asserts — among other widely debunked claims — that a satanic cabal of U.S. Democratic Party officials are trafficking children for sex and to harvest life-extending chemicals from their blood.

Public health officials are in wide agreement that non-medical masks are an important tool to stop the spread of COVID-19, though they say physical distancing and handwashing remain the most effective tactics.

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