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Convoy vehicles break through RCMP barricades as B.C. border crossing effectively closed

WATCH: Four people were arrested for mischief at the Pacific Highway border crossing in B.C. on Sunday, as a blockade by protesters opposed to COVID-19 measures continued into a second day.

Protesters opposed to vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 measures effectively shut down one of British Columbia’s busiest border crossing Saturday, amid ongoing demonstrations in cities across the country.

A convoy of vehicles left Chilliwack Saturday morning, destined for the Pacific Highway truck crossing.

By early afternoon, demonstrators on foot and in vehicles had forced the closure of Highway 15 southbound south of 8th Avenue, with both directions closed to traffic later in the afternoon.

Click to play video: 'Anti-mandate protesters gather at Pacific Highway border crossing' Anti-mandate protesters gather at Pacific Highway border crossing
Anti-mandate protesters gather at Pacific Highway border crossing – Feb 12, 2022

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Elenore Sturko said late Saturday afternoon a group of vehicles, including a large truck with a military-style paint job, broke through a police blockade and over a median heading the wrong way on the northbound side of the road.

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It appears to be some type of, maybe military surplus … it’s not anything with the government of Canada, it’s a vehicle that is painted and lifted and looks to be a military type style, and that was one of the first vehicles to break over the median and past police barriers,” Sturko said.

Police were able to subsequently block the trucks again, she said, but protesters on foot were being allowed to proceed towards Zero avenue.

RCMP did not stop or detain the drivers of the blockade-running trucks for safety reasons, Sturko said.

“We’re dealing with the really dynamic situation here where we have large crowds, some of the individuals here are somewhat aggressive,” she said.

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“We have to manage the safety of the public and the officers. Just because we haven’t taken any direct action on these registered owners at this time does not mean we’re not going to be following up.”

Sturko said she could not share operational details on how police would proceed if demonstrators dug in and refused to leave, as has been the case at the Coutts, Alta. border crossing and Ambassador Bridge crossing in Ontario.

Click to play video: 'Truck driver fired over caught-on-camera Freedom Convoy incident' Truck driver fired over caught-on-camera Freedom Convoy incident
Truck driver fired over caught-on-camera Freedom Convoy incident – Feb 8, 2022

Another convoy was Saturday through the Okanagan to Osoyoos.

Victoria police also reported traffic disruptions amid “large protests” near the provincial legislature, and said they had deployed temporary closed-circuit TV cameras in the area to support “public safety.”

Police reported two people had been arrested in relation to incidents during protests and counter-protests at the legislature last Saturday.

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Read more: Police, protesters in standoff at Ambassador Bridge as clear-out efforts stall

In a press release on Friday, Trail RCMP said they were notified that the Paterson border crossing would be temporarily blockaded on Saturday, Feb. 12, from noon to 4 p.m.

The convoy planned for the Lower Mainland has already drawn concerns from the Surrey business community, with the Surrey Board of Trade warning businesses in the area to take “precautions to safeguard the exterior of your business and staff.”

“The impact of these blockades is choking already impacted supply chains, businesses and jobs. This is an unacceptable sabotage of the economy,” board president and CEO Anita Huberman wrote to businesses.

“To be clear, everyone has a right to peacefully protest, but these types of demonstrations are impacting businesses and livelihoods.”

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Convoy protesters say they are demonstrating for “freedom,” and have expressed a range of demands ranging from the end of vaccine mandates to the end of all COVID-19 restrictions to the removal of the government.

Read more: Live blog: Trucker convoy protest ends 17th day in Ottawa

Earlier Saturday, police in Windsor, Ont., began clearing protesters from the Ambassador Bridge, North America’s busiest land border crossing. Demonstrators have been occupying the span for several days.

In Ottawa, municipal, provincial and federal officials have stated in recent days the protest occupying an area near Parliament Hill is “illegal.”

Police say they are now engaged in more than 120 criminal investigations into alleged conduct by protesters, who continue to insist they are part of a peaceful demonstration.

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