The scene at the RCMP blockade just outside of Milk River, Alberta is truly something to behold. A group ranging from hundreds to at times thousands as rallied together and set up a makeshift village along the highway in support of the truckers down in Coutts, Alberta blockading the border.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, or perhaps those who have been misled about what is happening at this site, all vehicles are pulled off to the sides of the highway or parked in the ditch. The only vehicles impeding traffic at in fact RCMP and police vehicles. There are campfires, play areas, impromptu kitchens, coffee and snack stations, all of which is being shared for free. Aside from the fact that everything is set up alongside the highway, it feels entirely like a family reunion campout.
Everyone ensures newcomers have something to eat, and some of the organizers even joke that the only time anyone gets violent is when the coffee isn’t ready in the morning. You very much get the sentiment that you could leave your car unlocked and never see a single thing goes missing. Even when the RCMP seem to try to intimidate folks, the people simply respond by locking arms and singing the anthem. Members of the RCMP and mainstream media commented on how respectful and kind everyone had been.
Sadly, despite all of this, in the late morning the RCMP had a press conference and they stated that a new legal protest site and that everyone would have to either move there or be ticketed. We were told that the new location was closer to Milk River although conveniently out of sight. The protesters made clear they were going nowhere.
The RCMP was set to enact ticketing enforcement at 1:00pm, but it wasn’t until a few hours later that the line of twenty or so officers at the barricade was joined by a sudden flurry of tactical units and additional officers, swelling their ranks into the dozens. Meanwhile from the north, a troop of about thirty officers approached largely unnoticed, and they proceeded to march in formation issuing tickets to every single vehicle parked along the highway.
The entire incident was incredibly surreal — officers in tactical gear marching rank and file down a rural highway was pure intimidation. An RCMP representative endeavored to ensure people that there would be no arrests, but their actions seem to all in attendance a show of force with the intention of scaring them away, but truckers, farmers and their supporters don’t scare easy. They stood their ground respectfully and peacefully and told the RCMP that they weren’t going anywhere.
We have agreed to crowdfund legal counsel for truckers who received tickets after refusing to leave, if you want to chip in you can do so at TruckerLawyer.ca.