Anti-warrant protest outside B.C. high school leads to confrontation, with protester hurling insults at student

An anti-warrant protest outside a south Okanagan high school, which students say school officials and police failed to prevent, resulted in a verbal confrontation between adults and students and, in one case, a protester shouting a racial slur and profanity at a student.

The incident unfolded on Friday, Feb. 11 at Southern Okanagan High School in Oliver, B.C., when a convoy of vehicles arrived, reportedly to support student walkouts over mask mandates promoted by protest groups across the country.

About 10 students took part in the walkout, while about 20 adults who had taken part in the convoy gathered on the road and sidewalk outside the school to protest, according to the RCMP and the students. who witnessed the event.

Grade 11 student Kai Allen says she and her classmates became aware of the protests around 2:15 p.m. PT when the convoy, made up of cars and trucks decorated with anti-warrant flags and slogans , arrived outside.

“We thought it was people picking up their kids and having Canada flags,” she said. “But then there must be more and more.”

South Dawn12:41A South Okanagan student says her friend was verbally assaulted by an anti-mandate health protester on school property.

A South Okanagan student says her friend was verbally assaulted by an anti-mandate health protester on school property. 12:41

Around the same time, local RCMP received a call from an off-duty officer in the area who was concerned about the protest, and an officer was dispatched to the scene, said Sgt. Don Wrigglesworth.

Wrigglesworth says the officer told protesters they weren’t allowed near school property under B.C. law Access to Services COVID-19 Vaccination Actwhere access roads within 20 meters of hospitals, COVID-19 clinics and K-12 schools cannot be obstructed or disrupted.

However, the protesters remained.

“You literally argue with children”

School District 53 Superintendent Beverly Young said school staff saw both the protesters and the RCMP outside and believed the situation was under control.

However, around 2:30 p.m. PT, the officer was called to a break and enter incident elsewhere in the area and left, Wrigglesworth said.

But Young says school staff were unaware of this and believed police were outside when the class closed at 2:45 p.m. PT.

By this point, protesters had gathered near a designated parent pick-up area on a sidewalk adjacent to the school grounds.

Allen says several students approached the protesters to ask why they were there, and the conversation turned into an argument over public safety precautions.

Young says teachers tried to separate the protesters from the students, but she and the RCMP confirm no one called the police.

After about 15 minutes, Allen says things turned “unfriendly” when an adult singled out a student of South Asian descent.

In a video filmed by another student, a woman identified by the RCMP as Silke Schulze of Oliver, British Columbia can be seen leaning towards the student and shouting, “I have ado you have the right to be in this country, do you not? »

In a second video, Schulze calls the student an expletive and walks away.

“She was telling us we were stupid and we were like, ‘You’re literally arguing with kids,'” Allen said.

According to the RCMP, Schulze was fined $2,300 under the COVID-19 Immunization Services Access Act.

Better to avoid confrontation

But Allen wonders why protesters were allowed to set up outside the school in the first place – when police were aware of the rally.

“I think it was super irresponsible,” she said.

She also says teachers seemed more focused on getting students to avoid protesters rather than telling protesters to leave.

Young says she prefers that neither students nor staff engage with protesters if they appear on school grounds and that confrontation is best avoided.

She also says she has spoken with school staff and the RCMP to establish better lines of communication.

When asked why students were allowed to leave the school when protesters were gathered outside, Young said she thought school staff had hoped things would remain peaceful.

“I don’t think they thought it would turn out like this,” she said.

Young adds that the blame for the confrontation lands “straight” on the people who organized the protest outside the school.

“It’s just not OK,” she said.

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