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Counter-protesters say 'Go Home' as Vancouver convoy disrupted

For the second consecutive weekend, protesters opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related restrictions took to the streets of Metro Vancouver.

Unlike last weekend, however, the convoy met organized resistance in the City of Vancouver.

Dozens of counter-protesters on foot and on bicycles met the rolling protest on Terminal Avenue as it headed toward Main Street Saturday morning. Counter protesters carried signs with messages reading, “Honk if you’re vaxxed,” “No Hate Speech” and “Go Home.”

After a standoff that lasted less than an hour, both groups started to leave the scene, with some counter-protesters indicating they were headed to the intersection of Main and Hastings streets, believing the convoy would attempt to enter downtown via Hastings.

Vancouver police said on Twitter late Saturday morning that the convoy had "split in multiple directions," with "numerous counter-protesters" attempting to stop it by blocking intersections. 

By early afternoon, a line of trucks and other vehicles could be seen streaming over the Burrard Street Bridge. Many honked their horns and waved Canadian flags. Others displayed the Canadian flag upside-down as well as signs containing profanity-laced anti-government messages and conspiracy theories about vaccines and journalism.

"Expect major delays on the Burrard Bridge if traveling to the downtown core due to the ongoing protests," police said in another tweet. "Consider an alternate route." 

Police added that "hundreds" of vehicles had made it into the downtown core and were "causing significant congestion."

Protests are being held across Canada on Saturday in solidarity with the self-described "Freedom Convoy" that has been camped out in downtown Ottawa for more than a week.

The convoy began last month with a cross-country journey by truckers opposed to the federal government's mandate that all truckers crossing the border from the U.S. be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Truckers were joined throughout their route and in Ottawa by other people opposed to vaccine mandates, as well as those opposed to the life-saving vaccines themselves and mask-wearing. Organizers have expanded the scope of the protests to include opposition to all pandemic-related restrictions.

Ahead of this weekend's protests, Vancouver's two health authorities issued memos to staff encouraging them not to engage with the demonstrators and - in one case - recommending that they refrain from wearing scrubs or ID badges outside of their hospitals on Saturday. 

The memos from Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care described their recommendations as "a precaution."

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and B.C. Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth issued statements ahead of Saturday's protests.

"As the mayor of a city with an over 95 per cent vaccination rate, my message to the convoy is this: Vancouver doesn’t want you here. Make your point and then go home," Stewart's statement read, in part.

Farnworth's statement emphasized the public's right to peaceful protest and lawful assembly, but condemned the ongoing disruption seen in Ottawa and elsewhere as "unfair."

"While the police will respect lawful protests, they will also consider all the tools and options available to them to protect people, preserve public safety and investigate unlawful conduct," Farnworth said. "British Columbians have been navigating the ongoing challenges of the pandemic together, and it is unfair to have one group disrupt the lives of so many others … We understand the strain of this pandemic, but we must come together to beat COVID-19." Top Stories

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