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Hundreds attend Palestine support protest, closing downtown Oakville

Ben Brown
Ben Brown

A large protest broke out in downtown Oakville today, Feb. 10, 2024, closing multiple roads and businesses, gathering hundreds of people in support of a ceasefire in Gaza.

The large, surprise protest was centered around Towne Square, this afternoon, shutting down a large part of downtown Oakville.

Traffic was blocked on Trafalgar Road and Lakeshore Road through most of downtown. Other nearby roads were also flooded with pedestrians and eventually closed to traffic, including George Street and part of Robinson Street.

The protest began just before 1 p.m. and went nearly three hours, formally ending around 3:30 p.m.

Attendees posted several videos with footage of the protest, highlighted below:

Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) remained present on scene to guide pedestrians and cars. while the spirited and loud protest led to some attendees climbing infrastructure and chanting, the matter remained peaceful and roads fully reopened at around 4:15 p.m.

Below is a tweet from HRPS around 2:40 p.m., asking for everyone to clear the affected area:

The protest saw an estimated 150-200 people attending. Demonstrators spoke about the current violence in Gaza, saying that Canadian officials need to be more proactive in demanding a ceasefire. 

Halton Police on site commented on the rally saying, "They do have a right to protest, but we don't like the fact that they're on the streets and interfering with businesses."

Dr. Hasan Saeed, an event attendee and Oakville resident said in an interview, "The government of Canada from the Prime Minister to the Foreign Minister, to many ministers keep ignoring the humanitarian crisis, the atrocity that is happening in Gaza and the genocide that is going on."

"They have excuses and I think people in Oakville are fed up with these excuses."

Ben Brown
Ben Brown

"I've been living here for the last 28 years," Saeed continued, "and I've never seen people so upset with our government and elected officials including local officials, like Mayor Burton when they demonize Palestinians. Oakville has a large population of Palestinian Arabs - both Muslims and Christians - and they're really fed up."

Dalia Alfera, another event attendee and 15 year resident of Oakville said, "I go to all the rallies and I don't organize them. But I'm usually asked to help out." 

According to Alfera, Oakville was chosen, "specifically for this because we haven't had a big rally yet."

"On the 29th of January at Town Council, people came together and really started connecting saying we should do this because the main protests that we go to are in Toronto."

The event Alfera described was an out of order motion called by Mayor Burton on a public statement about the town's position on the current events in Gaza at the town council meeting last week. A revised statement from council was signed and published that same night.

Read more: Oakville Town Council meeting delayed four hours over cancelled Gaza conflict delegations

"Really it's about education and awareness more than anything," Alfera said. "We have a lot of allies from different communities that are coming out and supporting us, from the Jewish community, to the queer community, the black community, Indigenous allies: they all join us here so we do want people that maybe don't have a lot of background or knowledge of this to understand whats happening and just how big it is and the impact of everything."

Approximately 200 protestors have been captured on video chanting things like, "There is only one solution" and "Ceasfire now."

The rally started at Oakville Town Square before going up Reynolds Street, west on Randall Street, and then south on Dunn Street back to Town Square where the rally ended. 

Today's event is the second local public demonstration about the war between Israel and Palestine that's taken place this week; another smaller protest took place at Oakville's Town Hall last Wednesday.

Read more: Petition for mayor's resignation leads to town hall protest

The protest ended without any injuries or crimes reported. No one on site was identified as the event organizer.