A small group of pedestrians and cyclists bring a convoy to a standstill in Edmonton’s river valley
A convoy of vehicles heading for downtown Edmonton on Saturday afternoon ran into an unexpected road block – about 20 people on foot and on bicycles who brought the convoy to a screeching halt.
Photos posted to Twitter around 1:30 p.m. showed a long line of eastbound trucks stretching up River Valley Road. In their path were counter-protesters standing at the Fortway Drive crosswalk.
Protesters wore masks and carried signs with slogans like “honk if you like vaccines” and “let the babies nap”.
“Well, we decided to block off a convoy artery today,” Jason Rockwell said in a post on Twitter. “We all have the right of assembly.”
“Hats off to the brave Edmontonians who are currently holding their own against the convoy by letting them know that their hatred has no place in our city or our society!” tweeted the Edmonton & District Labor Council in a post.
The counter-protest ended after about 90 minutes, after Edmonton police intervened. The Edmonton Police Department had taken to social media to ask protesters to stay off the roadway to allow traffic to flow.
Third week of protests
Meanwhile, up the hill in downtown Edmonton, hundreds of protesters, either on foot or inside a convoy of trucks and other vehicles, gathered for the third weekend consecutive protests against mandatory vaccinations and COVID-19 health measures.
Marchers waving signs and flags took to the sidewalks as they marched from Federal Square near the Alberta Legislature to City Hall.
Convoys of vehicles, meanwhile, arrived from staging areas east, west and south of the city, disrupting traffic on major roads like Anthony Henday Drive, St. Albert Trail and Gateway Boulevard .
Many vehicles honked their horns, ignoring a court injunction sought by the city in an effort to dampen the noise of protesters from the convoy that has disturbed city residents for the past two weeks.
“While [Edmonton city council] and I fully support the right to peaceful protest, we must set limits when it comes to protests that compromise the well-being of local people [businesses] and community members,” Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi tweeted Friday.
The injunction, granted Friday by Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Paul Belzil, prohibits “frequent or sustained sounding of motor vehicle horns, truck horns, equipment horns, megaphones and ‘other similar noise-making devices within the city limits’.
It is in effect now and lasts until March 4.
“PLEASE apply it,” a Twitter user replied to Sohi’s post. “I can’t stand another eight hours of honking.”
Police say the convoys are expected to block traffic on Anthony Henday Drive, Yellowhead Trail, Stony Plain Road, Whitemud Drive, Gateway Blvd, Walterdale Hill, Queen Elizabeth Park Road and downtown.
“Our goal will be to prevent these convoys from developing into situations that actively threaten the safety and security of our community,” the Edmonton Police Department said in a statement Friday.
“We are monitoring this protest closely and are ready to adapt our response if necessary.”
The statement, provided before the injunction was approved in the late afternoon, said police actions ‘may include verbal warnings, tickets, arrests and gathering evidence for follow-up investigations’ .
The Freedom Convoy was organized in late January to protest the federal vaccine policy that went into effect Jan. 15 for truckers crossing the Canada-US border — a group of travelers previously exempt from pandemic entry requirements . A week later, a similar policy took effect in the United States.
In Coutts, Alberta, a blockade of trucks and other large vehicles has blocked traffic to and from the United States since January 29.
Ontario declared a state of emergency on Friday in response to protests from convoys that shut down parts of downtown Ottawa and parts of Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge.