7 arrested after police move in to end anti-racism protest blocking Vancouver viaducts
Area around viaducts has historic significance to the city's Black community
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 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:
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.
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.
With files from Yvette Brend, Justin McElroy and Jodie Martinson