Two people have been arrested and a vehicle was seized during the second day of a mostly peaceful protest against COVID-19 mandates at the New Brunswick legislature, police say.
In a release Saturday evening, Fredericton Police said around 700 people attended the protest throughout the day, “in addition to more than 300 vehicles that participated in related convoys through the downtown.”
It said two men were arrested for alleged criminal code violations, at least three Emergency Measures Act tickets were handed out and multiple Motor Vehicle Act tickets were issued. All numbers are currently estimates and a total count will be made available later, the release said.
It added that one vehicle was seized under the Emergency Measures Act and a bylaw ticket was issued for setting off fireworks.
“At this hour, there is ongoing dialogue with the organizers to ensure a peaceful and lawful event. There will be a continued and highly visible law enforcement presence,” the release said.
“We are all here to mitigate any risk to public safety, and please continue to report any suspicious, concerning or criminal activity.”
Police are asking the general public to stay away from the protest area and to respect parking and noise bylaws.
‘We’re not happy’
A handful of protesters showed up in morning, but by early afternoon, the crowd had ballooned to hundreds of people.
The atmosphere was initially calm, as protesters listened to music and waved flags and signs as traffic passed through, but the protest began to get intense around 2 p.m. as demonstrators began blocking the road and crowding vehicles.
At 2:15 p.m., vehicle traffic was closed on St. John Street at King Street and Queen Street at Regent Street for “safety reasons and crowd control” and was reopened after about an hour, Fredericton police said.
Police also said just before 2:30 p.m., a group of protesters walked to City Hall at York and Queen Streets, “and after a short break, made their way back to the protest area.
“While there were some associated traffic delays, motorists were able to continue to make their way around the downtown,” the release said.
The Nevers Road overpass in the Lincoln area was also closed for a “brief period” but it has also reopened.
Corey Martin, who attended the protest Saturday, said his car and several others were keyed in a downtown parking lot.
“Obviously some people aren’t happy with this, but we’re not happy (with) things and that’s why we’re here,” he said. “A few of my family members lost their jobs over this.”
Saturday’s protest came after hundreds gathered in the province’s capital on Friday, honking horns and waving signs and Canada flags, during a convoy-style protest inspired by the trucker demonstrations across the country.
Friday afternoon, Fredericton Deputy Police Chief Martin Gaudet told reporters that there had been no arrests and only about three motor vehicle offences from the events that day.
In a release Saturday morning, Fredericton Police spokesperson Alycia Bartlett said the police force was “pleased to report” that Friday night was uneventful, with just one ticket issued early in the morning for improper use of a horn, and no criminal code offences.
— with files from The Canadian Press and Nathalie Sturgeon