Protesters burn flag in Winnipeg after clash in New Brunswick

WINNIPEG — Protesters in Winnipeg, angered by a clash with police at a protest in New Brunswick, tied up traffic in the city’s famous Portage and Main intersection and burned a Canadian flag late Thursday.

Dozens marched from the Forks and formed a circle at Portage Avenue and Main Street shortly after 5 p.m.

Winnipeg police appeared to be clearing the way for the march, blocking traffic along the way; more than a dozen cruisers were posted around the Portage and Main intersection, keeping the rush-hour traffic at bay and causing vehicles to back up a great distance.

The Winnipeg protest was peaceful but protesters burned a Canadian flag at Portage and Main before continuing west on Portage Avenue.

The protesters said they were showing support for a native group in New Brunswick. Things got heated there Thursday morning when Mounties moved in to remove a highway blockade near Rexton, N.B. Shale-gas protesters have been blocking a highway for weeks at a compound where an energy company stores its exploration equipment.

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A councillor with a First Nations reserve said police arrested several people and used pepper spray — and police vehicles were set on fire.

“After months, all of a sudden the RCMP moves in and violence ensues,” said Winnipeg protester Scott Price. “That’s not the way to go about things.”

“This is a human rights problem. This not just a First Nations problem anymore,” said Winnipeg protester Jenna Licious.

The Winnipeg protest continued west down Portage Avenue, creating a huge backlog of westbound traffic. The protesters gathered later at RCMP D Division headquarters.

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