Protesters have blocked Ottawa streets since Jan. 29; despite threats of legal consequences, many have shown no signs of backing down. In response, municipal, provincial and federal law enforcement launched an unprecedented operation Friday morning to remove protesters and their vehicles.
And while some people voluntarily left the scene, dozens continued to clog streets in and around Parliament on Friday as snow fell and bitter temperatures remained below freezing.
The situation prompted Canada’s House of Commons to cancel its meeting on Friday, House Speaker Anthony Rota said in a statement. The meeting was to discuss the Canadian government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act on Monday due to the protests, and officials say they hope Parliament will resume on Saturday.
“The situation is constantly evolving. The continued presence of vehicles and protesters associated with the convoy, alongside police operations, will impact downtown,” Rota said in the statement.
Points of contention have also become more delicate in recent days, with some protesters placing young children between them and the police. CNN has observed these children at the protest site for the past several days.
Ottawa police said they would work around the clock to put down protests that have been a major point of contention in the nation’s capital.
“Even through all the planning, it still shocks and amazes me to see children put in harm’s way in the middle of a protest where a police operation is taking place,” Chief of Police Steve Bell said Friday afternoon. Acting Ottawa.
DC prepares for possible similar protests
And Trudeau pointed out that some people in the United States as well as elsewhere are funneling funds to the protesters.
“We find that about half of the funding that is flowing to the barricaders here comes from the United States. The goal of all the measures, including the Emergency Measures Act financial measures, is to deal with the current threat only and to get the situation completely under control.”
Meanwhile, US officials fear similar unrest could arise in Washington, DC, as President Joe Biden prepares for the State of the Union address on March 1.
United States Capitol Police have begun coordinating with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in anticipation of a possible convoy of truckers descending on Capitol Hill. Preparedness efforts include the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, United States Park Police, United States Secret Service and DC National Guard.
Organizers face charges
Several people arrested earlier this week have been charged in the protests, which in recent weeks have gone from opposing a mandate to vaccinate truckers to disregarding all Covid-19 safety measures.
On Friday, Ottawa police confirmed the arrest of two protest organizers, Tamara Lich, 49, and Christopher John Barber, 46.
Lich was charged with counseling to commit the offense of mischief and Barber was charged with counseling to commit the offense of mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and advised to commit the offense of obstructing the police.
Barber had a contested bail hearing on Friday, attorney Diane Magas said in an email to CNN. He was released on conditions and bail, she added. Lich is due in court Saturday morning for his arraignment.
CNN’s Paula Newton, Paradise Afshar, Travis Caldwell, Raja Razek, Chris Boyette, Amir Vera and Jenn Selva contributed to this report.
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