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6 arrested, multiple tickets issued as weekend protests continue in Beltline District

Click to play video: 'Counter protesters turn out to voice opposition to ongoing anti-mandate rallies' Counter protesters turn out to voice opposition to ongoing anti-mandate rallies
WATCH: Beltline residents and business owners gathered Saturday afternoon to voice their opposition to the ongoing anti-mandate rallies. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Mar 19, 2022

Calgary police arrested six people Saturday as anti-mandate protesters and counter-protesters gathered in the Beltline district for the first time since the city was granted an emergency injunction.

About 350 people gathered around 1 p.m. at Central Memorial Park in protest of medical mandates across Canada. The crowd — known as Group A in Calgary police tweets – eventually began to move, making their way to city hall, a few blocks away.

Protesters gathered at Central Memorial Park in Calgary Mar. 19, 2022. Courtesy: Delta Tech Calgary

Police told Global News at that point the protesters were not in violation of the injunction put in place Friday afternoon, because they were staying on the sidewalk ​and not blocking roadways.

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Read more: Justice grants City of Calgary temporary injunction against downtown protests

​A short while later, police tweeted the group ​– that grew to roughly 1,000 people ​during the afternoon protest — did, in fact, violate the injunction multiple times by blocking Macleod Trail; however, police managed to get traffic moving again quickly.

(20) Adam MacVicar on Twitter: “Here’s the scene at City Hall right now. #YYC @GlobalCalgary https://t.co/gkGooChSvR” / Twitter

Dustin Nolan was among those who joined the anti-mandate protest. He said he felt compelled to show up.

“I think it’s very sad, because we have the right as Canadians to peacefully protest and gather like this and express our feelings and our thoughts towards everything, so the fact that they are trying to tell us we can’t is wrong,” Nolan said.

“I just think it’s wrong what the government is doing mandating vaccines. I can’t get on a plane to go see my family across Canada right now. It’s hard. I’d like to go visit people and travel and I can’t just because of my views.”

“I realize there are some people here with some strange views that I don’t agree with,” said Doug Tweet, another protester who gathered at CMP/city hall.

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“There’s lots of conspiracy theories which I don’t agree with but I just agree with freedom.”

(20) John smith on Twitter: “@CalgaryPolice https://t.co/P2csON68rv” / Twitter

At least half of the group that was present at city hall then returned to the park, where at least two people were arrested.

“Several arrests have occurred,” police tweeted late Saturday afternoon. “Enforcement is ongoing in Central Memorial Park. Details will be released at the conclusion of the event.”

Counter protesters, made up of area residents and business owners, had gathered at nearby Lougheed House, but some made their way to Central Memorial Park, where police worked to keep the two sides apart.

Officers at the park used their bikes to push those gathered in the area back — a similar tactic used last weekend when residents tried to stand up to the protesters.

Click to play video: 'CPS make 6 arrests following Saturday downtown protests' CPS make 6 arrests following Saturday downtown protests
CPS make 6 arrests following Saturday downtown protests – Mar 20, 2022

Chief Mark Neufeld said six people, all affiliated with the anti-mandate group, were arrested – one for assaulting an officer, four for breaching the injunction and one person was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

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Neufeld said multiple traffic tickets were also issued, including one to a truck driver who was “incessantly” honking his horn. He was arrested and his truck towed.

“We are 100 per cent committed to bringing back peace into our communities where we see these protests have pushed the boundaries of Sec. 2 of the Charter,” Neufeld told reporters Saturday evening.  “We are completely committed to making sure our communities are protected and that people have safety and solitude in their communities.”

Neufeld hopes future protests move to city hall, saying it makes more sense and causes less disruption. A statement released by the freedom rally organizers said they’re planning to continue protests at Municipal Plaza.

Nick Bagi, the manager of Amaranth Foods on 4th Street said he has lost roughly 20 per cent of his business every Saturday as the anti-mandate rally made its way past the store.

“They are blocking off all the roads in here so that nobody can get into my store and we are already struggling enough as it is,” said Bagi. “Now we lose two hours worth of business because of it. My parking lot is taken up because there’s nowhere for them to park. It’s been rough and it’s every Saturday.”

This Saturday came with a new set of problems, as police had multiple roads blocked off around Central Memorial Park, making driving anywhere in the area a very slow process.

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“I noticed that all the roads have been blocked off. I actually had a customer come in saying that he almost turned around because he couldn’t get through because the roads are all blocked off and he was going to go straight home. He’s a regular. Luckily, he still came in.”

Continued protests

Anti-mandate demonstrations have been held weekly at Central Memorial Park, typically followed by a march down 17th Avenue.

Last weekend, area residents and others tried to “take back the community” and the two groups clashed in what police saw as a public safety issue. Police were seen in online videos physically moving some of the residents using their service bikes.

Click to play video: 'Calgary police chief addresses response to weekend Beltline protests' Calgary police chief addresses response to weekend Beltline protests
Calgary police chief addresses response to weekend Beltline protests – Mar 14, 2022

The situation led to an outcry from residents, a special city council meeting, a letter to the police commission from the mayor and, finally, an emergency injunction by the city on Friday afternoon.

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Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said on Twitter last weekend that the disruption, which she called a parade and festival without proper permits and licences, needed enforcement by police rather than crowd control.

Read more: Calgary mayor calling for police enforcement against continued COVID restriction protests

“This was a damned if you do and damned if don’t, no-win for the police,” police Chief Mark Neufeld said Monday.

The injunction strengthens police authority to enforce the law.

“This is the exact tool we need as we all work together to return a sense of normalcy to the Beltline community,” Neufeld said in a news release Friday.

Both city council and the police commission have said they received hundreds of emails and phone calls from Calgarians about the protests in recent weeks.

Read more: Ottawa’s crackdown on ‘freedom convoy’ finances created panic, confusion, MPs hear

A letter to the police commission from the mayor laid out some of those concerns.

“The level of noise from protester’s vehicle horns and chanting is negatively impacting quality of life,” Gondek wrote.

She noted residents, many of whom live in one- or two-bedroom condos or apartments, have been leaving the area to avoid feeling trapped in their homes on Saturday afternoons. Others have reported being harassed for wearing masks.

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Businesses have reported lost income as customers flee the area before the protests begin.

 

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Trucker protests: GoFundMe rep says discussions with Ottawa police led to suspension of fundraiser – Mar 17, 2022

 

— with files from The Canadian Press

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