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Protesters gather from across the province at Alberta legislature to fight COVID-19 health measures

Click to play video 'Hundreds gather for anti-mask rally in Edmonton' Hundreds gather for anti-mask rally in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds of people turned out for a rally at the Alberta legislature on Saturday, protesting public health measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. Nicole Stillger reports. – Feb 20, 2021

Hundreds of people gathered at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton Saturday, following a “freedom convoy” relating to COVID-19 restrictions that began in Lethbridge.

The protest was organized by the “Walk for Freedom Alberta” group. That group claims to stand up for rights and freedoms and “peacefully promote breaches to our civil liberties across Alberta.”

The convoy began in Lethbridge, went through Calgary and Red Deer, and then finished at the Alberta legislature.

There were multiple groups seen in attendance, including the group that organized it, as well as others. 

While the legislature grounds fall under the jurisdiction of the Alberta Sheriffs, City of Edmonton and Edmonton Police Service officials were on hand to assist with keeping order. At least one person was seen being apprehended by police during the rally.

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A protest for “freedom” at the Alberta legislature on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Nicole Stillger / Global News
Protesters surround a police vehicle near the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Protesters surround a police vehicle near the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Global News

Mayor Don Iveson released a statement Saturday morning ahead of the convoy, saying “COVID-19 is not a joke nor a hoax.”

“We are in the middle of a global public health crisis,” Iveson said. “Wearing a mask and following other public health measures keeps people safe and saves lives.”

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Police at the Alberta legislature on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Police at the Alberta legislature on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. Charles Taylor / Global News

Iveson added that he is “encouraged” that the majority of Edmontonians follow the rules, and that he “won’t give a second thought to the falsehoods spread by this group and its allies.”

Similar protests have been held in both Edmonton and Calgary in the past.

According to the “Walk for Freedom Alberta” group’s media, Saturday’s convoy event departed from Lethbridge at 7 a.m., then was set to hit Calgary at 10 a.m, Red Deer at noon, and finally arrive at the legislature in Edmonton at 3 p.m.

Read more: Calgary and Edmonton rallies protest government COVID-19 restrictions

Iveson said Saturday he has been “made aware” that some of the organizers “may be associated with known hate groups.”

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“Edmonton unequivocally condemns racism, misogyny and other forms of hate — such speech is not welcome in our community.”

Under current COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta, people can gather in groups of up to 10 people as long as they’re outside and are maintaining two metres distance from each other.

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