The Kootenay Convoy Freedom Rally descended on the Paterson border crossing on Saturday, Feb. 12 in a relatively peaceful protest.
Greater Trail and District RCMP made one arrest at the border crossing just outside of Rossland, but Sgt. Mike Wicentowich, detachment commander, said it happened as a result of trucks blocking the road at about 4 p.m.
“Our officers attended and arrested one gentleman for mischief,” he said. “We dealt with the organizer of the event who approached us, got the road block cleared and advised us it wouldn’t happen again.”
The individual was released and Wicentowich doesn’t expect that charges will be laid.
According to Wicentowich, the organizers of the rally informed Trail police that they would be holding a peaceful rally from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, however, a handful of protesters were still in attendance as of Monday, Feb. 14.
“We are in contact with a spokesperson, who is providing updates,” said Wicentowich. “They are engaged in peaceful protest and civil disobedience.
“Currently, we would only arrest for mischief if a permanent road blockade was established. Temporary blockades fall within the right to protest in a democratic society.”
About 20 protesters on the U.S. side of the border also joined their Canadian counterparts at the rally on Saturday.
The organizers are also planning a rally at the same Paterson border on Saturday, Feb. 19 and Sunday, Feb. 20 from noon to 4 p.m.
In an unprecedented move, the federal government enacted the Emergencies Act for “illegal” blockades on Monday.
Among other things, the act grants the federal government to regulate and prohibit public assemblies, including blockades, other than lawful advocacy, protest, or dissent. It also allows RCMP to designate and secure places where blockades are to be prohibited, such as borders, the approach to borders, and other critical infrastructure.
“We’re going to be monitoring any individuals who may be tending toward more extreme behaviours, if you’re going to block the highway or commit a criminal act, you’re going to be charged or possibly face motor vehicle act fines or other things,” added Wicentowich. “We do not anticipate using any provisions under the Federal Emergencies Act.”