VIDEO: ‘Freedom Rally’ Heats Up in Calgary as Supporters, Counter-Protesters Confront Each Other

By Michael Wing
Michael Wing
Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.
March 19, 2022 Updated: March 20, 2022

CALGARY—A protest close to downtown Calgary grew heated when demonstrators against government COVID-19 mandates came face-to-face with counter-protesters at a park where weekly “freedom rallies” have been held on Saturdays for months.

A heavy Calgary police presence, including mounted and bicycle officers, was on hand to keep the event at Central Memorial Park in the Beltline neighbourhood under control on March 19.

Despite a largely peaceful gathering, several heated confrontations and an arrest were observed.

Lloyd Green, carrying a pro-freedom sign, has been coming for six months to support the rallies, which often attracted large crowds.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters opposed to government COVID-19 mandates gather for a rally while mounted and bicycle police officers look on, at Central Memorial Park in the Beltline neighbourhood of Calgary on March 19, 2022. (Michael Wing/The Epoch Times)

“It all focuses on the government overreach, the medical apartheid, and the mandates,” he told The Epoch Times. “There’s a lot of injustice that’s been taking place in Canada. There’s a lot of things that have to happen to put things right.”

Green said he has been directly affected by the vaccine mandates.

“I have a high school friend that passed away [from] a stroke, no medical issues,” he added.

At one point during the protest, when an exchange between a group of masked, goggled participants holding an Antifa flag and a maskless group carrying Canadian flags reached a boiling point, police horse units advanced to vacate that part of the park.

Epoch Times Photo
Counter-protesters carry flags and signs displaying messages in opposition to a protest by demonstrators who are against government COVID-19 mandates, at a rally at Central Memorial Park in the Beltline neighbourhood of Calgary on March 19, 2022. (Michael Wing/The Epoch Times)

All but one of the counter-protesters who were asked declined strongly to explain why they were there.

“It is ineffective to protest in this location,” said Graham, who did not wish to give his last name but said he lives in the Beltline.

“They should be at city hall. They should be doing it during the weekdays, like every other protest, [which] goes to city hall during the weekdays so they can get the attention of the politicians and the people who do make the rules.”

The rallies at Central Memorial Park, for weeks, included parades that snaked through the streets of the Beltline.

The previous Saturday, March 12, counter-protesters arrived and tensions rose. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek a few days later expressed dissatisfaction with the situation.

“I definitely have an expectation that something [different] has to happen than what happened last weekend,” Gondek said on March 15. “Because what happened last weekend was not great, and it’s untenable moving into this weekend and the coming weekends.”

The City of Calgary obtained a court injunction on March 18 limiting the activities of the anti-COVID mandate protesters engaging in the weekly rallies. It prohibits them from blocking streets and sidewalks and from amplifying sound or otherwise disturbing the area. They are also required to stay on the grounds of the park and can no longer march beyond its boundaries.

Epoch Times Photo
Mounted police officers advance on demonstrators, forcing them to vacate an area of Central Memorial Park in the Beltline neighbourhood south of downtown Calgary on March 19, 2022. (Michael Wing/The Epoch Times)

Protester Andrew Hutchins believes the rallies are making headway, particularly in the wake of the recent Freedom Convoy protests that swept over parts of the country and have now spread into the United States.

“Some of the mandates have dropped, but because I’m not vaccinated, I still cannot leave the country. I think the truckers doing what they did was a huge, huge sign. And [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau figured out he couldn’t do anything. So, I think his best step [is] to drop the mandates,” Hutchins told The Epoch Times.

“It’s not over yet,” he added. “There’s a weirdly merged feeling that it might come back. But I don’t know. I can’t trust the government now.”

Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.