Calgarians have been protesting against COVID-19 restrictions and mandates nearly every Saturday for over two years. In that time, they have braved threats of ticketing, vilification by media and politicians, cold and wet weather, venue changes and just about every adversity you could imagine with admirable civility and with an uncompromising message of love and unity. Whether they numbered in the hundreds or very often in the thousands, the folks in this city have been out demanding an end to all COVID-19 restriction for all Canadians.
For two years these protests, which usually consist of a series of speeches in one of Calgary’s downtown parks followed by a freedom march, under police guidance, often heading up 17th Ave, a street given the affectionate nickname “the freedom mile” by protesters, have carried on peacefully and largely without any need for enforcement. I have covered dozens of these protests and in the countless hours spent reporting on them, the only incidents of aggression I have ever witnessed came from passersby or folks sitting in pubs or cafes along the street making a rude remark or throwing up a middle finger. These hostilities, in my experience, were nearly universally met by protesters echoing sentiments like “we love you”, “we are fighting for your freedom too” or a friendly invitation from protesters to “come join us!”.
Sadly, a few weeks ago a group of organized counter-protesters showed up at the demonstration — leading to shouting between the two groups.
The following week, this same group of counter-protesters once again showed up, except this time they disobeyed police orders and blocked the set route that was designated for the march. Police were forced to intercede to allow the peaceful and scheduled protest to carry on.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, the self-appointed grand-arbiter of who is allowed to protest and who is not, took to social media following the counter-protesters aggressive and likely unlawful behaviour to declare that these folks were not counter-protesters… despite their counter-protesting… they were justified and concerned community members who were sticking up for their neighbourhood, according to Gondek.
Following her comments, the City of Calgary obtained an ex-parte injunction against the protests that have been taking place without incident for two years, effectively banning people’s right to gather and oppose government overreach. The injunction in itself was an exercise in government overreach which merited protest, and Calgarians were not about to cave to a bully like Gondek.
The weekend after the injunction was granted, we saw radicalized counter-protesters, troubling police enforcement, fights, arrests, and the general devolution of two years of peaceful protests into a day of chaos, all because the progressive mayor and her activist friends riled up these counter-protesters and called for escalation from police.
One week after the arrests and mayhem, like clockwork, Calgarians made their way downtown to protest this past Saturday, uncertain if they would be met by aggressive counter-protesters, militant police enforcement, or even where they might be allowed to protest.
After having some success the week prior at city hall, the group attempted to gathered there once again.
Instead, they were informed that their was an event booked at that location, although the event never took place. They then proceeded to Olympic Plaza, but were informed that amplification would not be permitted at that location, and finally they were able to set up and gather at the Courthouse Park just outside of the Calgary Courts Centre.
There was a significant police and bylaw presence, but aside from tickets being handed out to people honking, a few illegal drone flying tickets and one arrest that was not directly associated with the protest, the escalated enforcement and aggressive counter-protesters from one week prior were nowhere to be found.
We spoke with those in attendance about politicians attempting to stifle their right to protest and their attempts to determine which causes are or are not worthy, we also discussed the troubling trend towards totalitarianism and the loss of freedoms that we are seeing in Canada under leaders like Jyoti Gondek and Justin Trudeau.
Given the intensity and violence we witnessed one week prior to the events, we had to hire security in order to cover the protests this weekend. We believe that it is vital that we are there to tell the other side of the story, but we also have to be responsible and ensure our team’s safety. Please consider chipping in to help pay for our security costs at RebelFieldReports.com.