Edmonton police chief addresses criticism of service’s handling of convoy protests

The Edmonton Police Service defends how they handled the recent ‘freedom convoy’ protests.

Edmonton police are speaking out about criticism of their policing efforts related to the weekend convoy protests.

Honking filled the air in downtown Edmonton for a third weekend in a row on Saturday, even after the city was granted a temporary noise injunction from vehicles that participate in protests against public-health restrictions.

Pickups, big rigs and a large crowd of demonstrators opposed to pandemic restrictions have been gathering on the streets near the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on weekends.

The injunction, which was granted by Court of Queen’s Bench, says people who are involved in a protest convoy must refrain from sounding vehicle horns, air horns, or other devices that create unnecessary noise.

“The injunction does not grant us any more power than the existing bylaws, and the power it does grant us is to simply arrest and remove,” said EPS police Chief Dale McFee.

City officials say they sought the injunction after getting complaints from residents and businesses about the protest convoys that began Jan. 29 in support of the main protest in the nation’s capital.

The city says the injunction is in effect until March 4.

The chief was asked to explain his officers’ overall response to the protests.

“I think what you’re looking for is for us to put people in jail for honking their horns,” he said.

Chief McFee says officers wrote 10 tickets this past Saturday, while another 60 will be sent out in the mail.

Edmonton police say their objective when handling the convoy protests is to keep everyone safe, and to keep traffic moving to ensure emergency vehicles can respond to calls for service.

That included removing counter-protesters from River Valley Road. That group had intended to stop the convoy in its tracks.

“Every time there is a stoppage in a large moving protest, with vehicles, there is danger to those individuals as well,” said McFee.


EPS says when officers step in – although people might not think it’s for the right reasons – it’s what the commander thought was necessary at the time.

“Any time we get protesters and counter-protesters together, we never know what is going to transpire,” said Supt. Dean Hilton of the service’s operational support division. “It is always our goal to keep those parties apart.”

The Edmonton Police Service says police presence and response goes well beyond the officers enforcing the law on the streets. EPS says it is preparing for another convoy this weekend and will plan accordingly.

—With files from The Canadian Press.

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