A short-lived protest outside of the RCMP detachment in Fort MacLeod ended in victory on Thursday evening. More than 200 protesters gathered to demand the release of freedom activist Alex Van Herk. He was released shortly after the Crown withdrew a condition that he refused to sign.
According to Van Herk, ‘S.W.AT. team officers’ arrived at his place of business ‘just before lunchtime’ looking for him. Van Herk was not on site, but a message was relayed to him and he phoned the officers. He says they wanted him to turn himself in to police custody in order to sign some documents. The officer said that he would be released ‘by supper time.’ According to Van Herk, the officer was not aware that the Crown had added additional conditions to his charges. One condition was to cease contact with life-long friend, Marco Van Huigenbos until his court appearance in October. Van Herk refused to sign the condition. Both Van Herk and Van Huigenbos were involved in the Coutts border blockade, which took place in early 2022 amid nationwide protests to end vaccine mandates and other COVID protocols.
Van Huigenbos is a Fort MacLeod town councillor and has not been charged with anything. For his involvement in the Coutts border blockade, Van Herk was charged with mischief over $5,000.
News of Van Herk’s refusal to sign the condition spread quickly and crowds formed outside the Fort MacLeod detachment demanding his release. Van Herk says that the officers treated him fairly while he was in custody and they even showed him pictures of the growing numbers of people outside to show him that he had community support. Van Herk says that it was the support of the people outside the detachment that put pressure on the Crown to withdraw the conditions. He praised the officers, saying they ‘fought hard’ to have the condition withdrawn.
Van Herk was released from custody shortly before 9:00 PM Thursday evening. He is scheduled to appear in court for his mischief charge on October 4.