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Town of Oliver ‘appalled’ at actions of protesters at school

School principal initially didn’t see reason to disperse what she called ‘peaceful’ protest

Oliver’s mayor and council have come out with a statement of disgust regarding the protesters who gathered at South Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS) on Friday, Feb. 11.

“Mayor and council were appalled to hear of the actions and behaviours of the protesters last Friday at South Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS). Students from SOSS were subjected to anger and hostility from protesters who gathered near and on school property. Schools are a place of learning and a place where students can feel safe and not be subjected to hateful, racist and aggressive comments,” the statement reads.

VIDEO: RCMP investigating racist abuse hurled at Oliver students during protest

“Oliver residents are doing their best to follow the mandates and orders placed by the Provincial and Federal Health Officers in our efforts to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Demanding change to mandates or orders by demonstrating at a high school, with an elementary school adjacent, served no purpose or benefit.”

In the meantime, SOSS principal Tracy Harrington says she did not see a reason to disperse the protesters at her school because she called the demonstration ‘peaceful.’

“Yes, we saw them out front and did not try to disperse them as it was a peaceful protest at that time,” said Harrington.

Oliver RCMP confirm they were not called by the school but did have a constable attend briefly before being called to another incident. They were not present for the altercation between the female protester and students where the female protester is said to have hurled racist insults at the Indo-Canadian student as well as calling students the ‘C’ word. It’s also alleged the woman spat at the students.

“If there was any indication that things were going to go sideways at the high school we would have stayed and had Osoyoos back us up on the other file. We were not present at the time of incident,” confirmed Sgt. Don Wrigglesworth.

Oliver RCMP continues to investigate the incident to see if any criminal charges are warranted.

In November, the provincial government passed the Access to Services (COVID-19) Act that prohibits protests on school grounds, and Town council wants to remind protesters to respect the law.

There is no statement from either School District 53 or SOSS how protests such of this would be handled in the future.

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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