New Brunswick

Police say Fredericton protest 'ongoing' as Day 3 wraps up

About 70 people protested against COVID-19 mandates in downtown Fredericton on Sunday, marking the third day in a multi-day protest that organizers had hoped would create gridlock in the downtown.

A 'small number of individuals' remain at protest outside New Brunswick Legislature

Police officers keep an eye on a crowd of protesters outside the legislature in downtown Fredericton Sunday afternoon. (Graham Thompson/CBC News)

Police are suggesting a multi-day protest against COVID-19 mandates in Fredericton isn't yet over.

Officers with the Fredericton Police Force, along with provincial peace officers, "continue to monitor the ongoing protest in Fredericton," police spokesperson Alycia Bartlett said in a news release Sunday night as Day 3 of the protests wrapped up.

"Our primary responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of everyone, while permitting peaceful protest activity," Bartlett said.

"We are pleased to report that events remained peaceful throughout the day, with a small number of individuals remaining at the protest site."

During a speech Saturday, a protester said a barbecue and portable washrooms were set up on site and would sustain the crowd into Sunday and "indefinitely." 

Since Friday afternoon, hundreds of people from across the province have gathered outside the New Brunswick Legislature to call for an end to all COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccination mandates.

After peaking at about 300 protesters on Friday and 700 on Saturday, Sunday's protest saw a smaller crowd of about 70 people gather outside the New Brunswick Legislature by mid-afternoon.

Day 3: Fredericton protests

6 months ago
Duration 1:01
Honking, marching continue as number of protesters waning Sunday afternoon

Promotional material for the protest had called on participants to create gridlock in the city, similar to what protesters did in Ottawa, but aside from a few brief snarls, traffic in Fredericton was unimpeded throughout the weekend.

Police presence remained heavy at the site of the protest throughout the weekend, with dozens of additional officers from other agencies brought in to back up the Fredericton police.

The protest billed itself as being part of Freedom Convoy 2022, which has been making its way across Canada the last couple of weeks.

Fewer than 30 protesters were left outside the legislature by late Sunday afternoon. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

3 arrested over weekend

Over the course of the weekend, three people were arrested and several fines were issued to people participating in the protest.

Bartlett said one person was arrested for breaching the peace overnight into Sunday, while two men were also arrested for offences under the Criminal Code of Canada, though the alleged crimes weren't specified. 

Police also said four tickets were issued for alleged offences under New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Act, along with "multiple" traffic tickets and two civic by-law tickets, which were for setting off fireworks.

Over the course of the weekend, police also blocked several large trucks from entering the city for not having a valid reason to do so. 

Police had set up 15 roadblocks around Fredericton to stop trucks from entering the city if the driver did not have a valid manifest. 

A smaller group of protesters carried flags, chanted slogans and held signs on Sunday. (Graham Thompson/CBC News)

Bartlett said police also had to intervene after people flew drones around the protest site.

Transport Canada issued a notice late Saturday night, alerting pilots to potential flight-route hazards and restricting the airspace within a three-mile radius around the protest, she said.

"No remotely piloted aircraft (drones), other than those required for law enforcement, are permitted in the restricted area," Bartlett said.

Unmasked group ordered to leave mall

A group of people entered Kings Place Mall in downtown Fredericton on Saturday without wearing masks, according to mall security and to one shopper who says the group harassed her when she complained to security.

Nicole Lyons-Macfarlane was at the Dollarama in Kings Place Mall, which is two blocks from the protest, when the group showed up.

Lyons-Macfarlane said they were carrying flags and appeared to be part of the protest.

She said she asked a security guard to escort the group out, but was told they were allowed be in the mall without masks.

Nicole Lyons-Macfarlane said she was harassed by a group of people who refused to wear masks while at Kings Place Mall on Saturday. (Submitted by Nicole Lyons-Macfarlane)

"And then... the group of people started basically harassing me, ridiculing me, telling me, if I'm so scared of getting COVID and [dying] I should just go home, and masks weren't necessary," she said. "And they were just going on like this for a few minutes and security was not doing anything."

However, security guard Sidhu Singh said he did ask the group to leave the mall.

Singh said that a group of four or five people, none of whom were wearing masks, entered the mall at about 1 p.m. and walked through to the other end of the mall.

Singh said he approached them and told them they had to either put masks on or leave.

"I just told them that the policy is they have to wear a mask," he said.

"They just left without creating any trouble," he said, adding they were in the mall for about five minutes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aidan Cox

Journalist

Aidan Cox is a journalist for the CBC based in Fredericton. He can be reached at aidan.cox@cbc.ca and followed on Twitter @Aidan4jrn.

With files from Mrinali Anchan

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