The sound of honking trucks resonated through the streets of downtown Toronto on Saturday, as a large crowd of demonstrators descended on the city to demand that COVID-19 limitations be lifted.
The “Freedom Convoy” organized the protest, which began at midday at Queen’s Park with demonstrators carrying posters and flags and chanting against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, which include proof of immunization in some indoor situations.
Several protesters told CP24 that they do not want to be forced to use vaccines, masks, or other public health measures that have proven to be helpful in preventing the spread of COVID-19. They feel that the government at all levels is mishandling the pandemic.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m., police said a 22-year-old male protester was arrested at the north side of Queen’s Park.
The man was arrested for assault with a weapon, administering a noxious substance (smoke bomb), and public mischief, police said.
The protest later moved north at the intersection of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road. Hundreds of demonstrators and several trucks blocked the road for hours.
At one point, police said the blockade slowed down Peel paramedics, prompting them to issue a warning to protesters to let emergency vehicles through the intersection.
“This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” police tweeted. There are also two fire stations in that area and police said they were concerned that the fire trucks may not be able to leave if needed.
Later in the afternoon, a CP24 crew saw several smoke bombs set off at that intersection, but there was no immediate word on whether someone was arrested.
Toronto police Staff Supt. Lauren Pogue said the protest had been relatively “peaceful.”
“Our plans are subject to change. We’re a moving target. I can assure you that we’re there to keep everyone safe, including our on-the-ground police officers “Pogue remarked.
She added that, in addition to the one arrest, police are looking into an incident involving a local citizen and a truck driver at the crossing.
“I feel it was an interaction, you know, impatience from people trying to go about their lives in that area — the loudness and the congestion,” she added.
Source_ The Canadian Press