Surrey, February 13: Several commercial trucks and a military-style vehicle broke through an RCMP barricade on the Pacific Highway as they followed protesters marching to the border crossing at approximately 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Several officers were cut off from their colleagues by what Mounties described as a hostile mob. Hundreds of protesters celebrated on foot near the border crossing, with traffic at a standstill through a massive area of south Surrey.
A large RCMP presence had greeted “Freedom Convoy” supporters who arrived at the Pacific Highway truck crossing Saturday morning, screening motorists and commercial trucks. A few hours later, police resorted to blocking the route with police cruisers as protesters made it to closer to the border crossing on foot.
Dozens of Mounties had worked to speak with each driver, and those who needed to actually cross the border were able to do so, while the rest were diverted.
The crowd had thinned, but by approximately 1 p.m., more vehicles arrived and a sudden surge of RCMP vehicles blocked the Pacific Highway to the border to keep Canadian-flag-festooned vehicles from continuing on.
“We don’t want any vehicles, either protest or counter-protest, coming in areas where there are significant amounts of people,” said. Sgt. Elenore Sturko of the Surrey RCMP. “We’ve had on and off closures with people linking arms.”
Around 2:15 p.m., most of the demonstrators walked to the border along 176 Street as a handful of commercial vehicles made their way through. Initially, the RCMP had tried to keep them from continuing on, but then backed off after a military-style vehicle with the truckers broke through the barricade.
For much of the day, vehicles were parked for kilometres along 8th Avenue before they could turn on to 176 Street with long delays on that route. The demonstrators walked to the intersection with flags, signs and horns. Hundreds of them waved Canadian flags and cheered as other drivers were diverted from the planned “slow roll” around the border crossing.
A smaller group of anti-mandate demonstrators has been at the border since Monday.
Surrey RCMP said in a news release Saturday evening that it is working with other provincial and federal RCMP units and the Canada Border Services Agency in response to the situation at the border.
“The RCMP’s objective is to restore the orderly flow of traffic in the safest manner possible,” police said in their release.
The CBSA also issued a statement, advising travellers to use other border crossings if possible.
“While the Pacific Highway, British Columbia port of entry remains open, travellers should use an alternative processing site due to protest activities,” the agency said, noting that the Aldergrove and Abbotsford-Huntingdon crossings are the closest alternative processing sites for commercial traffic.
The crowd at the Pacific Highway crossing thinned out as the sun set, leaving a much smaller group behind, though traffic disruptions remained.