The direct duelling of protests and counter-protests in the Beltline—or the Downtown Core—did not occur this weekend.
Beltline residents and members of Community Solidarity YYC held a quiet read-in at Central Memorial Park. There, the group gave out free books collected from Little Free Libraries throughout the city, along with suggested protest and policing history books available from the library.
“I’m positive people are just sick of this park being used as that weird, hostile takeover for the past few months,” said Alyssa Quinney, an organizer for the read-in.
“We figured it would just be nice to switch that around and welcome people back to the park basically, and to just hang out and to be normal in the park,” she said.
The dozen community members set up near the Cenotaph. In previous weeks, speeches were held by anti-mandate protesters prior to the regular marches down 17 Avenue SW.
Linda, who did not want to give her last name due to previous targeted harassment by members of those protests, said that this was a way of taking back the park for Beltline residents.
“I think it’s still a protest. It’s very much a protest. It’s a ‘we took our park back protest,’ and if anybody wants to show up we’re here with our books and our peace,” she said.
Read-in possibly not a one off
Linda, who lives in a nearby building close to the park, said it was hard to describe how wonderful it felt for her to be reading in the park on a Saturday.
Compared to previous weeks, the police presence was light. A lone police van blocked off the lane next to the Central Memorial Cenotaph on 2 Street SW, and a small number of mountain bike officers were present near the library.
Quinney said that they didn’t know if the read-in would be a one off event, or whether it would be something they would organize at Central Memorial in the future.
Still, she said, normalcy has not entirely returned to the Beltline.
“We haven’t forgot they’re they’re still there,” she said referring to the anti-mandate protesters having moved to the Downtown Core.
Smaller protests in Downtown Core, Prince’s Island
Approximatly 200 anti-mandate protesters gathered at Olympic Plaza, and 100 at Prince’s Island Park during the early afternoon. The protest groups combined together at Harley Hotchkiss Gardens Park—also known as Courthouse Park—close to 2 p.m.
Protesters continued to express their displeasure with the court injunction obtained by the City of Calgary on March 18.
During the afternoon, one individual was arrested by Calgary Police for allegedly breaching the injunction by using a megaphone while walking to Courthouse Park from Prince’s Island.
That individual was identified by fellow anti-mandate protesters on social media as Christopher Saccoccia, who also goes by Chris Sky. Saccoccia has been arrested multiple times throughout the pandemic by police in Toronto, Thunder Bay, Moncton, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and previously in Calgary for a variety of offences, including making death threats against Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
The Calgary Police Service said in a statement released on Saturday night that another individual was arrested during the protests for having two outstanding warrants.
Tickets and court summons issued
Bylaw officers issued 23 tickets to drivers who were honking their horns in support of the anti-mandate protest. A ticket was issued for the illegal use of a drone, and another was given for operating a business booth without a license.
Police issued 14 summonses for excessive use of a horn under the Traffic Safety Act. An additional five were issued for expired registrations and equipment violations, including one vehicle which was towed for not being registered.
Police say that they expect to issue further tickets based on evidence gathered at the protests downtown.
A speaker at Courthouse Park expressed anger at being unable to sell merchandise or use PA systems at Prince’s Island. Both activities are banned under the court injunction.
“So the police are out, and we were setting up our music—we have people selling merch, and you know, receiving donations. They shut everything down, and would not let us set up. They want to arrest us for using a megaphone, let alone a PA system,” he said.
“This is the kind of tyranny we’re dealing with right now in our own country.”
Speakers at the rally also called for donations to support a protester who was arrested last week at Central Memorial Park after they were alleged to have assaulted a police officer.
“Just because the police ask you do something doesn’t mean you should do it,” said that speaker.