On Sunday afternoon, protesters took to the streets of downtown Vancouver to demand an end to the coronavirus lockdowns.
The crowd of nearly 100 people was met with mixed reactions by onlookers. Individuals surveilling from their balconies would sometimes boo, yell expletives, or scream “stay home!”
One woman heckling from her apartment balcony yelled, “We like staying home!” (That’s nice for her – I’m sure living in a beachside apartment and ordering takeout all the time is lovely – but what about the people who are suffering mental health issues, financial hardship, or domestic abuse?)
One individual who allegedly threw eggs at the marchers and had a knife on his person was arrested by police halfway through the march.
Other onlookers responded positively to the protesters, applauding from their patios, honking their car horns, or saying “thank you” and giving the thumbs-up sign.
Many have written off anti-lockdown protesters as conspiracy kooks: BC health minister Adrian Dix called the protesters “marginal” and said they should be ignored.
While one Vancouver protester was wearing a sweatshirt promoting flat-earth theory, many of the participants were simply individuals concerned about their kids’ educations, the future of local small businesses and the creep of government overreach.
As citizens grow more restless during the shutdowns, the anti-lockdown movement will become harder for politicians to ignore. Fear of contracting COVID-19 is also on the decline: an April 20 Angus Reid study found that “concern about personally contracting the virus has fallen for the first time since early March, dropping from 73 per cent two weeks ago to 61 per cent.”
For now, celebrities, politicians, and citizens alike feel righteous when they mock and swear at the protesters.
But the movement is growing: many of Sunday’s Vancouver protesters were commenting how this rally – the fourth of its kind – had attracted triple the amount of people from the week prior. And on Saturday, 100 people gathered in Toronto for a similar anti-lockdown protest. Ontario Premier Doug Ford denounced the crowd as “reckless,” calling them “a bunch of yahoos.”
One participant in the Vancouver march, who held a sign reading “End Lockdown, Restore Rights,” emphasized the secondary effects of the lockdowns, such as alcoholism, suicide, and domestic abuse stemming from mass unemployment. “We’re a diverse group, everyone has different thoughts, but the one thing that really unites us is economic rights…so many people are suffering.”
“We need to offer hope…where is the plan to reopen British Columbia?”