Tense protest and counter-protest jams up 17 Avenue SW for another Saturday

Beltline resident counter-protestors face off against polce along 17th Avenue on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Beltline residents and anti-government anti-mandate protesters engaged in a tense standoff along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday.

Counter-protesters, fed up with the regular Saturday marches through the Beltline, put a plan into place to prevent that march from passing in front of Western Canada High School.

Thousands of anti-government, anti-mandate protesters marching along what they have come to call Freedom Mile, were met by around 100 of the counter-protesters and dozens of police officers.

Things turned tense during the protests as anti-government, anti-mask marchers at one point broke a police line, leading police to physically push back counter-protesters with bikes. Counter-protesters joined arm-in-arm to resist the move, although this led to these individuals being boxed in by anti-government, anti-mandate protesters.

The Calgary Police Service brought in additional officers around 3 p.m. to protect the counter-protesters as a channel on the north side of 17 Avenue SW was opened to allow the march to continue. Several small scuffles broke out as police again used their bicycles to prevent counter-protesters from blocking the march.

‘Go home’ disappointing: Beltline president

Post protest, the reaction from members of the Beltline community was not positive towards the police service.

President of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, Peter Oliver, wrote on twitter that he was “disappointed by the number of [police officers] who told me residents should just go home.”

Mayor Jyoti Gondek posted to social media in the evening addressing the protests, stating that “by waiting for this to die out, enforcement agencies have allowed it to grow.”

“And while Council has no formal ability to direct the police or other enforcement bodies, we can be vocal and stand with our fellow Calgarians,” she said.

The Calgary Police Service responded with a statement to the public’s anger after video clips showing police officers shoving counter-protesters backwards were released on social media.

“It is important to be cognizant that these demonstrations occurred over several hours and individual photos and short video clips do not always portray the complete picture,” wrote the statement.

The service claimed that they worked with all parties to attempt to negotiate an alternative, but that said that “after receiving limited cooperation and recognizing the volatility of the situation, officers had to take action to avoid further escalation of the crowd and to minimize the disruption to nearby residents and businesses.”

Ward 9 Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, speaking as a member of the Calgary Police Commission, said that he stands with Mayor Gondek.

“I will be working with my fellow Commissioners to use today’s unacceptable incident as the moment where we stand with our citizens and definitively change our collective response,” he said.

Counter-protest gathers

Ward 8 Councillor Courtney Walcott meets with police at Lougheed House prior to the 17 Avenue SW counter-protest on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Beltline resident counter-protesters prepare to distribute signs prior to the17 Avenue SW protest on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Beltline resident counter-protesters walk towards 17 Avenue SW after meeting at Lougheed House on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Members of the Calgary Police mounted unit trot towards 17th Avenue on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Beltline resident counter-protesters were set up along 17 Avenue SW and 5A Street on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A Beltline resident counter-protestor holds up a sign saying “‘freedom’ crap not welcome here” along 17th Avenue on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Beltline resident counter-protesters face off against police along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Members of the mounted unit stand in a line along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Pedestrians shopping along 17 Avenue SW watch as police move in to create a line in front of anti-government, anti-mandate protesters on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A pedestrian crosses 17 Avenue SW in front of a police line on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Tensions rise as protests meet

An anti-government, anti-mask protester waves a prop lightsaber along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
An anti-government anti-mandate protester holds up a sign towards frustrated Beltline business owners saying “We love Beltline business” along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Police lights are reflected in the windows of the Dont Yell At Me cafe along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Patrons of the Ship & Anchor Pub watch as a regular Saturday anti-government, anti-mandate protest moves in towards their patio along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A man wearing a University of Calgary student sweatshirt holds up a sign saying “damn girl are you Pfizer cuz you’re making my heart stop” along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
An anti-government, anti-mandate protester holds up a sign calling the media a virus along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
An anti-government, anti-mask protester lets out a loud blast from a custom air-horn along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A variety of anti-government, anti-mask flags being carried, including upside down Canadian flags, the Gasden flag, an anti-Trudeau flag, anti-communist flag, an America-Canada combination flag, and Molon Labe flag at the 17 Avenue SW protests on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Anti-government, anti-mandate protesters and Beltline resident counter-protestors face off on 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
An anti-government, anti-mandate protester mocks members of the Beltline resident counter-protesters on 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
An anti-government, anti-mandate protester attempts to stop photos being taken of them loudly shouting at Beltline resident counter-protesters at the 17 Avenue SW protest on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Counter-protesters pushed back to allow marchers through

Anti-government, anti-mandate protesters climb the low wall around Western Canada High School, moving past a police line along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A Beltline resident counter-protester is pushed back by a police officer to allow anti-government, anti-mandate protesters around the main protest, blocking their movement on 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A Beltline resident counter-protester is pushed by a police officer to back up after anti-government, anti-mandate protesters broke a police line further up 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
An anti-government, anti-mandate protester holds up a sign saying “this is a peaceful protest” after that group blocked in Beltline resident counter-protesters along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Beltline resident counter-protesters link arms to prevent police from pushing them back after anti-government, anti-mandate protesters broke a police line further up 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A protester is moved by his friend after trying to yell at a police officer along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Beltline resident counter-protesters hold up signs calling for the end of regular protests along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Additional police officers arrive for the 17 Avenue SW protest and counter-protest on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A police officer directs people on the north 17 Avenue SW sidewalk to clear out of the way for anti-government, anti-mandate protesters to use the sidewalk on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Anti-government, anti-mask protesters walk arm-in-arm around a Beltline resident counter-protest after police made an opening for the marchers to resume down 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Both sides declare victory

Beltline resident counter-protesters continue to block 17 Avenue SW from a small number of anti-government, anti-mandate protest trucks on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
A police officer directs a small number of anti-government, anti-mandate protesters to go around Western Canada High School instead of continuing down 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
An anti-government, anti-mandate protester in an SUV throws up his hands in frustration after police direct him to go around Western Canada High School instead of driving through a Beltline resident counter-protest along 17 Avenue SW on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY
Anti-government, anti-mask protesters march down 12 Avenue SW, back towards Central Memorial Park on Saturday, March 12, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

4 Comments

  1. This news article is lying about the Freedom protesters by the title of antigovernment. The Freedom protesters are not antigovernment. We are for government . we are not for government over reach into the rights of canadians charter of rights and freedoms, and the freedoms by national law . I am asking the news agency to stop and desist form reffering to the Freedom Protesters as antigovernment. Or a class action law suite will be filed. As the statement is false and inflamatory and a defamation of the character of the people in the freedom protesters group.

      • John Smith – You are ignorant. Spelling doesn’t isn’t always a marker of intelligence. Your statement though spelled well with reasonable grammer could be considered an example of lack of courtesy. Try understanding the statement. This is supposed to be a community based paper. It should present true statements and be unbiased. Obviously not happening in this article or your closed mind.

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