The far-right Freedom Convoy returned to downtown Vancouver this past Saturday. Disturbingly, while their numbers were smaller than in the past, their violent rhetoric and actions were ratcheted up several notches.

It may not be coincidental that this event followed soon after a meeting at the Croatian Cultural Centre on Wednesday night that featured a notorious homophobe, anti-Semite and a far-right spokesperson with ties to prominent neo-Nazis. Further radicalizing and riling up their followers is to point of such gatherings.

On Saturday, combining their antipathy for Prime Minister Trudeau with even greater hate aimed at the 2SLGBTI community they marched around several downtown streets after ending their convoy from Langley with a brief rally in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

When this disparate movement first began two years ago with denunciations of sensible and science-based public health measures they attempted to disguise its real character with misleading slogans like “Hugs Over Masks” and placards proclaiming love and peace and freedom. But this weekend the masks – and the gloves – literally came off.

Screaming about pedophiles and alleged child grooming they harassed and antagonized passersby and then attacked one who expressed outrage at there hateful presence. According to witnesses, members of the VPD monitoring the march once again failed to properly respond to the provocative hate or the assault.

Some reported that the police appeared to be at best neutral in the face of the attack on an apparent member of the 2SLGBTI community by far-right thugs; others felt the police betrayed bias in favour of the haters by harassing and threatening community members who attempted to intervene to stop the assault. This latter impression would be consistent with reports of institutional bias within the VPD displayed many times in the past.

Following the three-week occupation of Ottawa last year combined with border blockades that included heavily-armed militia-style participants – this dangerous hate movement pivoted temporarily to intervening in mainstream politics. The links between this “fringe” movement and the current leaders of the federal Conservative Party and the Alberta UCP have been noted with concern by critics and commentators. The website has also documented candidates and slates affiliated with the far-right in the recent BC municipal elections.

With the return of this dangerous current to the streets of our communities a higher level of concern is warranted. And with the continuing failure of the police to defend residents a growing number are exploring the need for some sort of community self-protection, especially for marginalized and threated communities.