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WATCH THE VIDEO: Conflict sparks at Freedom Rally in downtown Princeton

Approximately 150 people gathered Saturday, Jan. 29 at noon

Approximately 150 people gathered in downtown Princeton Saturday, Jan. 29 at noon, to show support for the Freedom Convoy.

They ranged in age from elementary school children to octogenarians. They carried protest signs, Canada flags, and clapped and cheered when drivers travelling on Bridge Street and Vermilion Avenue honked their horns.

While the Spotlight observed, the rally was peaceful with one exception.

A resident walking on the sidewalk across from the group rolled up some papers to use as an amplifier, protesting the protesters.

“Get vaccinated, you idiots,” he hollered.

A couple of Freedom Convoy supporters moved towards the street, exchanging insults with him in raised voices, but the crowd quickly settled the situation.

“We promised not to do (any) fighting,” said one protester. Another shouted that the man was a perfect example of what the convoy is protesting, and yelled “we love you.”

Marvin Baerg is a local trucker who drove his decorated rig to the event.

“I want to lend support to the trucking movement…I am here to protest against mandates,” he said.

Former newspaper publisher Dawn Johnston said she supports the truckers, and cafe owner and former town councillor Jerome Tjerkstra said he was there for his family.

“I’m here for my children and grandchildren, to let them know, to plant the seed of freedom in their hearts.”

He called the rally “a show of solidarity” demonstrating civic responsibility.

The federal government ended the truckers’ exemption to the vaccine mandate on Jan. 15, meaning Canadian truck drivers need to be fully vaccinated if they want to avoid a two-week quarantine and pre-arrival molecular test for COVID-19 before crossing into Canada.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign national truck drivers who do not have a right to re-enter are turned away at the border and directed back to the United States.

The U.S. now also requires Canadian truckers to provide proof of vaccination to enter that country.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance has disavowed the protest and said more than 85 per cent of truckers are vaccinated. Many truckers have also posted on social media they continue to do their jobs and that the convoy doesn’t speak for them.

-With files from The Canadian Press

Related: Ottawa police call in reinforcements as convoy takes up positions around Parliament

Related: Thousands gather on Parliament Hill for protest against vaccine mandates

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Marvin Baerg is a local trucker who drove his decorated rig to the event. Photo Andrea DeMeer

Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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