British Columbia·Video

7 arrested after police move in to end anti-racism protest blocking Vancouver viaducts

Seven protesters were arrested Monday, according to police, after officers moved in to end an anti-racism demonstration blocking two viaducts leading in and out of downtown Vancouver.

Area around viaducts has historic significance to the city's Black community

Police and protesters stand face to face at the foot of the Georgia Viaduct in Vancouver early Monday, after police broke up a demonstration against racism and police violence. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Seven protesters were arrested Monday, according to police, after officers moved in to end an anti-racism demonstration blocking two viaducts leading in and out of downtown Vancouver.

Officers with the Vancouver Police Department could be heard over a loudspeaker early Monday, loud enough to wake residents in nearby highrises, asking the group three times to leave the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts or face arrest. The roads had been blocked since Saturday.

Several dozen protesters slowly walked off the viaducts over the course of an hour, chanting "Black lives matter" as police followed close behind. A statement from police said officers arrested seven people who "refused" to leave.

The viaducts have since been cleared, though the demonstration continued east down Union Street. By 10 a.m. PT, around two dozen people were continuing the protest at East Cordova and Main streets.

The group has declined to comment to media, including CBC News, except to say that the protest was peaceful and in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, as well as the movement to defund police forces in favour of alternative public safety tactics.

The peaceful protest entered its third day Monday, in support of Black Lives Matter and against police brutality as well as systemic racism. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

The peaceful protest would have entered its third full day on the viaducts Monday. 

The police statement said officers are requesting charges of mischief and intimidation by blocking a highway against the people who were arrested.

WATCH: Vancouver police could be heard warning protesters to leave the viaducts early Monday:

Vancouver police moved in early Monday to end a days-long anti-racism protest on the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, warning demonstrators to leave the road or face arrest. 0:20

The area around the viaducts is historically significant to the city's Black community. The area, centred between Prior and Union and Main and Jackson streets, was known as Hogan's Alley.

It was a cultural hub for Vancouver's Black community starting in the 1920s, anchored by local businesses and the African Methodist Episcopal Fountain Chapel. The neighbourhood's buildings were torn down in the late 1960s for the development of an interurban freeway. The freeway plans were later dropped, but not until after the construction of the viaducts.

Anti-racism protesters are pictured blocking Cordova Street in Vancouver on June 15, 2020, after moving off the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The protest is the latest in a series of country-wide demonstrations against police brutality.

More than 100 people gathered in downtown Vancouver on Saturday demanding justice for Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman from B.C. who was shot and killed by police in Edmundston, N.B., during a "wellness check."

Thousands have also demonstrated in other Canadian cities, including Victoria, Toronto, and Montreal.

Protests against racism and police violence have spread across the world following the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

Vancouver police followed protesters as they move off the viaducts and down Union Street on Monday, warning demonstrators they would be arrested if they did not leave the roadway. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

With files from Yvette Brend, Justin McElroy and Jodie Martinson

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