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A massive police operation begins to take over Ottawa

“They’re just trying to scare us into leaving, but we’re not moving,” said a resister in a truck who identified himself only as Richard.

As the police stood in front of his truck, the man with the thick gray beard insisted that the police should drag him outside.

Police began cracking down on protesters on Thursday night with targeted arrests of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, key organizers of the so-called Freedom Convoy protest which first rumbled through the capital on January 28.

The city was preparing for a big police move.

The possibility of a clash between police and protesters was enough for the House of Commons to cancel Friday’s sitting. The Senate also closed for the day.

The protest movement has a stated goal of ending vaccination mandates and Covid restrictions, but government officials have linked organizers to nefarious goals. Marco Mendicino, Trudeau’s public safety minister, warned that some members of the movement follow a far-right ideology and aim to overthrow the government.

Hundreds of trucks block streets in an area that has seen thousands of protesters at times.

On Friday afternoon, officers smashed at least one window and forced open an RV parked at the edge of the protest area, about 500 feet from the US Embassy. An officer led a group into the vehicle, which wore a “Home Sweet Home” bumper sticker, holding a shield with his gun drawn.

A few minutes later, they pulled out a man who raised his arms and shouted, “Freedom! Officers tied his wrists and led him away as a heavy tow truck arrived on the scene.

Ottawa police say Friday afternoon 70 people were arrested and 21 vehicles were towed. Ottawa Police Acting Chief Steve Bell told reporters on Friday the charges included mischief.

“We have a very deliberate and methodical plan that has been extremely well resourced,” said Bell, who credited emergency powers given to police by municipal, provincial and federal governments. “Without the powers given to us by these laws, we would not be able to do the work we do today.

Bell gave no timeframe for how long it would take police to end the protests and clear the area.

The Emergencies Act also allowed police to compel heavy tow truck operators to help transport large vehicles entrenched on city streets. Protest leaders threatened any tow truck drivers who help the police.

A convoy of more than a dozen heavy tow trucks in front of the University of Ottawa drove into the occupied area after police made some of the first arrests on Friday.

The authorities’ slow response to truck convoys, which were also blocking critical border crossings, has shaken Canadians’ confidence in their public institutions.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Friday that Canada’s body politic is being violated by the occupation of the capital and the illegal blockades of vital trade corridors.

“A liberal democracy has to be ready to defend itself and that’s what’s happening in Canada right now,” Freeland said. “Anyone who seeks to undermine our democratic institutions, who seeks to undermine our national economy, should know that we are very firm and very clear about our duty to Canadians to defend our country.”

On the ground in Ottawa, the operation had a tangible impact on the capital’s political scene. The House of Commons canceled its Friday sitting where debate on the use of the Emergencies Act was scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. ET.

“Stay away from downtown until further notice,” House Speaker Anthony Rota advised in a statement.

Government House Leader Mark Holland said officials hoped to resume sitting on Saturday, with a vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion.

politico Gt

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