BC-Washington Border Rally Ends After Police Move In to Clear Protesters

By Jeff Sandes
Jeff Sandes
Jeff Sandes
Jeff Sandes is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times based in the Vancouver area.
February 15, 2022Updated: February 16, 2022

SURREY, B.C.—A massive police surge late in the evening on Feb. 14 ended a protest in Surrey, B.C., which began after local RCMP blocked access to the Pacific Highway border crossing two days earlier.

The Canada Border Services Agency says traffic is now moving at the border crossing.

Several dozen police officers joined dozens of other officers already on the scene, and together they moved in to clear the protesters who remained in the area.

Epoch Times Photo
Police stand at the site of the protest near the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C., on Feb. 14, 2022. (Jeff Sandes/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Protesters rally near the Pacific Highway border crossing while police keep watch, in Surrey, B.C., on Feb. 13, 2022. (Chris Ivany)

A large group of demonstrators opposed to vaccine mandates protested at the border crossing on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, which police said was mostly peaceful apart from some people crossing police barricades and driving in the opposite direction on 176 Street.

Police have made several arrests at the protest site, but haven’t confirmed the number of arrests.

A man who arranged security for the protesters and businesses in the area, who did not provide his name, said he saw approximately two dozen people arrested after police moved in on the evening of Feb. 14.

Police then advanced to the camp headquarters two blocks north and told protesters and their supporters to clean up the camp and leave or face arrest and confiscation of their property and supplies, he said.

Some protesters said there was a tense stand-off between police and demonstrators.

Stacey Midgley, one of the protesters who led the daily slow rolls through the area the previous week, tried to negotiate an agreement to prevent the stand-off from escalating.

Midgely told The Epoch Times that he first had the police acknowledge they were responsible for blocking the border, not the protesters, and he would have his side back up if the police did the same.

“I told them, they knew we were only going to block two lanes and do a slow roll on Saturday,” Midgley said. “I said we’ll back up to 2nd Avenue if you back up yourselves, because we’ve got to start somewhere to rebuild that trust.”

Surrey RCMP said in a press release on Feb. 13 that “four people have been taken into custody for Mischief at the protests taking place near the Pacific Highway Border Crossing.”

Surrey RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Vanessa Munn acknowledged the incident and the arrests early in the day on Feb. 14, and said police were forced to place concrete barriers on both sides of the protest sites to keep more vehicles from entering the area, and for safety reasons.

However, she said that despite the addition of the barriers and the heavy police presence, police and protesters were having productive conversations on how to end the protest.

“We are continuing to engage with them because we want to bring that to a resolution as quickly and as safely as possible, so there can be open communication between police and the protesters,” Munn told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters rally near the Pacific Highway border crossing while police keep watch, in Surrey, B.C., on Feb. 13, 2022. (Chris Ivany)
Epoch Times Photo
Protesters pack up to leave the site of a demonstration against COVID-19 mandates by the Pacific Highway in Surrey, B.C., on Feb. 14, 2022. (Jeff Sandes/The Epoch Times)

“We will take enforcement action as necessary. Obviously, we’re strategic about the way that we do enforcement, and we are aligned to the fact that at the end of the day we want to make sure everyone is safe.”

Ryan Kulbaba had spent most of the weekend onsite at the protest as one of the coordinators of the rally. He said that both sides were being respectful and communicating well until the police took action.

“I saw no confrontations whatsoever between anybody. Cops, RCMP, us. Internally between us and them I saw nothing, just a lot of dialogue personally,” he said.

“For the most part, it was good dialogue. Still, the stand-off was a result of the arrests that happened on the front line. If you want to start arresting people, then you will see us in a united front.”

Pressure to end the border protest may have been influenced by the gridlock at the two other local crossings for commercial vehicles. Average wait time to cross the border was five hours on Feb. 14.

A group of supporters with their recreational vehicles who had set up a camp north of the 8th Avenue police closure on the highway, was the last holdout before police forced them to move, ending the protest entirely.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report.