Counter-protesters gather at Manitoba Legislative Building, ask Winnipeg Freedom Convoy to go home
Organizer says community members have had enough of the constant noise and disruptions
Anti-vaccine mandate protesters who have been parked outside the Manitoba Legislative Building for more than a week are being met by counter-protesters Saturday afternoon who want to send them a clear message: it's time to leave.
Protesters carrying signs saying "vaccines save lives" and "I want my bedtime back" lined the steps outside the legislative building, across from the self-proclaimed Winnipeg Freedom Convoy on Broadway.
They could be heard chanting "go home" over the noise of honking trucks.
WATCH | Counter-protesters shout 'go home' amid honks from convoy:
Meanwhile, protesters with the convoy shouted "freedom" and sang O Canada in response.
WATCH | Freedom Convoy protesters chant in response to counter-protest:
At around 1 p.m., police were seen arriving at the legislative building and appeared to be positioning themselves between the two groups as some counter-protesters moved closer to the convoy.
One counter-protester was heard shouting "this is my neighbourhood" toward members of the convoy.
WATCH | Counter-protester tells convoy, 'This is my neighbourhood':
Omar Kinnarath, one of the organizers of the counter-protest, said they want to send a message to the convoy, as well as police and the provincial government, that "what's going on is a slap in the face to this community."
"We want to tell these folks that they're wrong, and the community is going to show up and tell them that what you believe is, like, is not right, and you're causing a lot of harm by being here, and we would just wish that they would go home to their warm houses," he said.
Counter protesters are chanting "Go home" to protesters on the other side of the street. <a href="https://twitter.com/wpgpolice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wpgpolice</a> are standing in between to separate the groups. <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCManitoba?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCManitoba</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCNews</a> <a href="https://t.co/tq3nB1knuA">pic.twitter.com/tq3nB1knuA</a>—@karenpaulscbc
Demonstrators at the downtown intersection have been honking horns since last Friday in opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions.
Residents in the area have said the constant honking and traffic delays have been disruptive and frustrating. There have also been reports of protest organizers setting off fireworks.
In an effort to curb reports of excessive honking, the convoy updated its code of conduct Wednesday. It now says honking is only permitted for two minutes at the top of every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., as well as "short intermittent honking."
Autumn Hartle joined the counter-protest with her daughter. She said the honking and exhaust fumes from the trucks has been giving her headaches for days, and that her daughter can't sleep.
"I'm here to say this is not the right way to protest your original and intended message, which I could maybe have supported. But this way? Absolutely not. This is disgusting."
Hartle said she's angry with Winnipeg police and the provincial government for their lack of action.
"You're going to tell me on the ground you can't do anything about it? Yeah you can. so Danny Smyth, let's go. Make them gone. Yes, you can do something, why you're not, I don't know."
Kat Greer said she came to Saturday's counter-protest because the convoy is making her feel unsafe.
"This is really just a prime example of how our government has given our downtown to just a bunch of lawless people," she said.
Greer said she thinks the convoy has made their point, adding that most restrictions are about to be lifted soon anyway.
"They just need to pack up and go back home. They're terrorizing our communities and it's not fair."
By about 3 p.m., most of the counter-protesters had left, as had the line of police officers separating the two protests.
No charges were laid during the demonstrations, but Winnipeg police said two people were detained for their safety under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act, and were taken to a residence where they were turned over to friends, according to a news release issued just before 5 p.m.
The convoy protesters remained on site. On Friday, they said they intend to stay parked outside the legislative building until all of the mandates are removed.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the convoy said Saturday's counter-demonstration shows how divided communities have become, blaming COVID-19 mandates.
According to a post earlier in the week, the protesters' plans for Sunday include a noon service, a rally at 3 p.m. and a "Freedom Family Dinner."