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Winnipeg convoy protesters move vehicles off street, set up camp in Memorial Park


People protesting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and public health measures have cleared vehicles from Memorial Boulevard in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building.

It comes after the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) gave notice Tuesday to the convoy protesters to remove all trucks, tractors and equipment from the street by 5 p.m. Wednesday or face arrest and possible charges.

The group complied and the big rigs and massive Canadian and American flags that were used in the protest were removed, but co-organizers said demonstrators will maintain a presence in Memorial Park.

“We want to be here,” said Caleb Brown, one of the co-organizers of the protest. “We want people to know that we’re staying here. The last couple weeks has been an incredible experience to hear people’s stories, to know where they come from … to be able to share where we come from and our stories.”

On Wednesday afternoon, a skid steer could be seen picking up loads of fire wood from the median on Memorial and moving it into nearby Memorial Park. That’s where the self-proclaimed Winnipeg Freedom Convoy has set up a fire pit and chairs, hockey nets and a wood-framed structure to serve as a wind shelter.

Demonstrators have been camped out in the area since Feb. 4. After nearly three weeks, they cleared the roadway ahead of the deadline imposed by the WPS.

“What changed is in our ongoing discussions with people there we realized that the WPS would not be able to assist protesters in achieving the goals that they had stated,” said Const. Rob Carver, a public information officer with the WPS. “And I believe that in our discussions with people on scene, with the protesters, they also realized that was looking like those goals wouldn’t be achieved by this strategy.”

The protest started with regular honking and disruptions to traffic on Broadway but over time organizers reduced their use of horns and the footprint of the demonstration.

Officers said they’ve worked with the demonstrators to balance their right to protest with the rights of people living and working in the area.

But as protesters were packing up, another group of demonstrators rolled onto Broadway Wednesday afternoon led by a group of big rigs, one with the word “FREEDOM” emblazoned in capital letters on a trailer another towing a trailer with billboards calling for an end to lockdowns, mandates and vaccine passports.

The horns on the trucks blared and they temporarily blocked traffic on westbound Broadway until the drivers were approached by uniformed police officers, at which point they carried on.

Despite being ordered to pack up, co-organizers of the freedom convoy said the mood remains positive.

“We’re just doing things in preparation for people who want to be able to liberate themselves and enjoy freedom,” said Paul Bigras, one of the co-organizers.

Others are relieved to see the demonstration move off the street.

“It’s been a real rough three weeks,” said Autumn Hartle, who lives downtown within a block of the protest. “A little quieter over the last week and a half.”

Hartle, who stood near the protest holding a sign reading, “NA-NA-NA-NA HEY-HEY-HEY GOOD-BYE!” said the idling of vehicles, honking of horns and traffic disruptions need to stop but she has no problem with the group moving into the park.

“If you can have clean and clear streets and access without the noise and the pollution of the exhaust then that would be the right way you should’ve protested from the beginning,” Hartle said.

Carver said if people are protesting on public land, in a peaceful way that’s not impacting others in the area, they’ll have to look further at their response but so far police haven’t said how they will handle the group’s continued presence in Memorial Park.

Protesters have said they plan to stay until all mandates are lifted. Top Stories

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