Yesterday, protesters and counter-protesters showed up in the thousands to the BC legislature’s front lawn to advocate for what they believe in, but because of “rising tensions,” arrests were made.
Protesters marched across Canada to city halls, legislatures, Parliament and other significant government buildings to try and get rid of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education programs.
This march was called the ‘1 Million March 4 Children.’
As 2SLGBTQI+ communities throughout Canada discovered this event was happening on such a large scale, counter-protests were planned to meet the 1 Million March 4 Children at every site they marched upon, Victoria being one of many.
These counter-protests’ mission was to denounce the hate-fuelled rallies seeking to remove any and all SOGI education from curriculums, while at the same time advocating for trans people and the queer community as a whole.
At around noon on Wednesday, September 20th, both protesters and counter-protesters showed up to the legislature, but tensions quickly rose among those in attendance.
According to those in attendance, the counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the protesters in an estimated ratio of five-to-one.
“The demonstrations quickly became escalated, with tensions and conflict amongst some of the approximately 2,500 protesters and counter-protestors that had gathered on the Legislature lawn,” said Cst. Terri Healy, Community Engagement Division with VicPD.
“At approximately 12:30 p.m., counter-protesters pushed past police and rushed the stage, creating an unsafe environment and a decision was made to cease further planned activities,” she continued.
Despite this, one counter-protester who was there at that time said that she never saw any sort of aggression come out of the palpable tension between both sides.
“I walked from downtown and I could hear the booing that was quite loud,” said Kailey Robinson.
“I didn’t see anybody rush the stage, I didn’t see anything that was remotely aggressive on the counter-protest side, it was just a lot of people booing when they were trying to talk on the protest side.”
It was quite peaceful for the whole time I was there,” they continued.
At around 2 p.m. a media release was sent out to ask those planning to go to the legislature to not come and VicPD say they began trying to disperse the people that were on site at that point.
Following that, the protesters reportedly left the area and the counter protesters remained to celebrate love, education and the 2SLGBTQI+ community.
David Eby and several government officials have called out the protesters for their bigoted ideology and hateful messaging in an effort to reiterate to children, parents and teachers in BC that all members of the queer community deserve to feel safe.
School must be a place where all students, staff and families belong and feel safe, and where respect is shown for each other’s differences. It has been upsetting to see misinformation and disinformation used to attack some of our most vulnerable children and youth.
— David Eby (@Dave_Eby) September 19, 2023
VicPD made two arrests due to the rising tensions; however, they have not sworn charges against the individuals they arrested at this time.
Police officers remained at the legislature until around 9 p.m., when the last of the protesters and counter protesters were gone.
In addition to the two arrests in Victoria, one arrest was made at a Nanaimo clash between the protest and counter-protest.