Freedom rally makes its way to PR

The rally was held at Riverfront Park in Peace River. About 50 attended, a little less than the one held in High Prairie the day before.

Susan Thomson
South Peace News

About 50 people attended the All Fired Up for Freedom rally against coronavirus restrictions in Peace River April 24.

The rally had previously been postponed after an outcry from multiple people in Peace River.

The Town of Peace River received multiple complaints about the rally before it began, promoting a response from Town CAO Chris Parker saying information and complaints had been forwarded to RCMP and Alberta Health Services.

“No permits have been applied for nor would any permits be approved for an event that is in contravention of the current public health orders restricting gatherings,” Parker says.

Benita Pedersen, who owns a DJ company, has been travelling from town to town to hold rallies against what she and other protesters call lockdowns. Prior to the Peace River rally, she had already racked up thousands in fines for previous events.

Speakers also included Bob Blayone and Donald Lee. Blayone was previously on hand when RCMP attended Karen’s Home Cooking for opening to in-person dining against AHS guidelines. Blayone is outspoken in downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus on social media.

Lee is a former Glenmary Catholic School teacher who was fined $4,000 for uttering a homophobic slur to a male student and was reprimanded in writing by the Alberta Teachers’ Association after being found guilty of two charges of unprofessional conduct.

“I’m afraid to express my views in public,” Lee says. “Friends recommended that I not speak here today. And so this ever-present dread has settled into all of us.”

Lee characterizes those who wear masks as “bandits” and complains he can’t see their expressions to know if they are angry or afraid.

The event was advertised as “family friendly” and featured a bouncy castle for children despite recommendations to keep physical distance to avoid spreading the virus. Signs at the event incorrectly stated children carry no risk of infection.

Police reportedly ticketed people at the event. South Peace News is waiting for confirmation of how many people were ticketed and for how much money.

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