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Canada: Police arrest leaders of “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa

Leaders of the anti-sanitary measures protest, at the origin of blockages in downtown Ottawa, Canada, were arrested Thursday evening after the intervention of the police deployed en masse.

Canadian police made the first targeted arrests of leaders of the anti-sanitary measures movement on the evening of Thursday, February 17, which have been blocking the streets of Ottawa for almost three weeks.

“If you want to leave on your own, now is the time,” Acting Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell told protesters in the afternoon, warning that this weekend would be “very different from the last three”.

In the evening, the police made the first arrests: Tamara Lich, one of the organizers of the so-called “freedom” convoy, was arrested by the police, the official account of the movement said in a tweet, video at l ‘support. In the images, we see her getting in handcuffs in a police car, surrounded by two police officers, and shouting to her companions “Hold on”.

A little earlier, another leader, Chris Barber, had been arrested, a calm arrest there also filmed and posted on social networks by members of the movement.

For the first time since the beginning of the movement, groups of police officers had positioned themselves en masse on Thursday in the streets of Ottawa in the face of protesters and hundreds of trucks blocking the streets. “We are ready to act to expel illegal protesters from our streets,” Steve Bell had further explained, speaking of an “imminent” intervention. A security perimeter has been erected around the city center and around a hundred roadblocks are used to control entry into the area.

Nothing “peaceful” anymore

A few meters away, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau estimated Thursday morning that this protest was no longer “peaceful”, during a historic debate in the House of Commons on the implementation of the law on emergency measures, an exceptional provision invoked on Monday for the second time in Canada’s peacetime history.

“The objective of all measures, including the financial measures provided for in the Emergencies Act, is to meet the current threat and bring the situation under full control,” added Justin Trudeau.

In a letter addressed to the Premiers of the provinces on Wednesday evening, he had considered that the movement “threatened democracy” and undermined “the reputation of Canada abroad”.

“Bank accounts of individuals and businesses” linked to the blocking have been frozen, said Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland at a press conference.

Calling the situation “precarious,” Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said “illegal border blockades” had cost the Canadian economy billions of dollars.

With AFP

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