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Convoy of Truckers: Ottawa Police Continue to Intervene


Officers arrested dozens more people on Saturday as protesters resumed their clash with police in an increased crackdown on “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa.

Early Saturday afternoon, Ottawa police said they had 47 arrests, in addition to more than 100 on Friday. Police also say they have towed 53 vehicles since Friday.

A fourth straight weekend of protests began on Saturday morning, granted on a much smaller scale than other protests seen in recent weeks, as authorities appeared to take a more aggressive stance.

Police cleared Wellington Street in front of Parliament Hill of protesters for the first time since the protest began on January 28. As officers began moving through the city center on Friday, several vehicles left Wellington Street, Kent Street and other jurisdictions.

At a press conference on Saturday afternoon, Ottawa Police Acting Chief Steve Bell confirmed that 47 people had been arrested that day, bringing the total number of arrests to more than 170. .

However, Bell could not give a time estimate as to when Ottawa residents would return to their streets.

“We are working with our partners and will remove these protesters peacefully from your area. This operation continues to move forward. It is not over and it will take longer until we achieve our goals,” Bell said. .

Ottawa police say they worked with Gatineau law enforcement to close the Boiler Bridge which connects the two cities with the aim of “preventing an influx of demonstrators”.

They have set up around 100 checkpoints around the city center to keep anyone out except those who work, live or have a “legitimate reason” to be there.

The officers used pepper spray, and Bell confirmed they now have batons and helmets for added protection. Crowds pushed back the police, shouting “shame”, “freedom” and “hold the line”.

Smoke was also seen at various times during the clash and police accused the protesters of launch gas.

“We told you to leave. We gave you time to leave. We were slow and methodical, but you were aggressive and aggressive with the officers and the horses,” the Ottawa Police Service said. said Saturday morning in a message to protesters.

Ottawa police said officers arrested protesters who had smoke grenades, as well as fireworks, and wore bulletproof vests.

The conflict between police and protesters continued to escalate on Saturday evening as police reported that some protesters assaulted officers with weapons. In response to these actions, officers deployed the use of ARWENwhich are a brand of riot guns commonly used to fire “less lethal” ammunition, such as rubber bullets and chemical agents.

Videos also emerged on social media showing protesters being thrown to the ground by police horses on Friday. The police were also seen break the window of a truck as they advanced.

However, Bell defended the tactics used by Ottawa police when asked about concerns officers may have used excessive force.

“We will have the opportunity to review all these files which are complaint mechanisms that people can enter into if they believe that there is excessive use of force by members of the police,” he said. -he declares.

Although there were fewer children seen at the protest site on Saturday, Ottawa police say protesters are continue to bring their children.

Children are banned from participating in protests, according to the Emergencies Act, which the federal government invoked on Monday, and police have accused protesters of getting children in the way of law enforcement operations.

“It’s dangerous and it puts young children at risk,” Bell said.

As of Saturday, the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa says no children have been in their care.

Police move in to clear downtown Ottawa near Parliament Hill of protesters after weeks of protests on Feb. 19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

PRECITE IN ‘HOLD AND SECURE’

After closing on Friday for security reasons, the House of Commons resumed debate on the motion to confirm the declaration of emergency on Saturday morning, with a vote scheduled for Monday at 8 p.m.

As the major police operation continued on Wellington Street, it was announced that the Parliamentary Precinct was in a “hold and secure” position, which meant that the doors were locked and access was interrupted for some. MPs were “strongly advised” not to leave the West Block, and those not already inside were told to avoid the area.

In a virtual press conference on Saturday, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said “at least 76” financial accounts have been frozen since the Emergency Measures Act was invoked on Monday. More than $3 million in funds have been affected by these actions, he said.

“I think we’re all relieved that there was a modicum of confrontation and violence, and we hope that will continue to be the case in the future,” Mendicino said.

The federal government also announced it is making up to $20 million available to businesses in downtown Ottawa that have been impacted by the protest, with individual small businesses able to apply for up to $10,000 each. in help.

MAIN ORGANIZERS ARRESTED, CHARGED

Among those arrested are four key organizers of the trucking convoy protest, including Pat King, Daniel Bulford, Chris Barber and Tamara Lich.

King is the latest person to announce charges after broadcasting his arrest live on Facebook.

On Saturday, Ottawa police confirmed that King, whose full name is Patrick James King, 44, of Red Deer, Alta., is facing mischief charges of counseling to commit the offense of mischief , of counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and of counseling to commit the offense of obstructing the police. King is scheduled to appear for a bail hearing early next week.

Bulford, a former RCMP officer, visited near the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel on Friday. However, the charges have not been officially announced.

The charges against Barber and Lich were announced early Friday morning after their arrest on Thursday.

An Ontario judge granted Barber bail and released him on $100,000 bail, on the condition that he leave Ontario by February 23, not publicly endorse the convoy or has no contact with other major organizers of the demonstration.

Lich appeared in person at his bail hearing on Saturday. She testified that she wanted to return to Alberta to be with her husband and children, and pledged $5,000 bail, saying that was all she could afford.

Lich is charged with a single count of counseling to commit mischief. She promised to leave Ottawa in a vehicle and to give up defending the demonstration, but it would take her several days to make these arrangements. Lich cited not having the required vaccination passport that would allow him to fly and the freezing of his bank accounts as reasons.

A judge has decided to wait until Tuesday before deciding whether to grant Lich bail, meaning she will return to a local detention center until then.

Ontario courts are closed this Monday due to the family holiday. None of the charges against any of the organizers have been proven in court.

CLASHES DETESTERS AND POLICE

Protesters have made a number of demands throughout the three weeks of demonstrations in Ottawa.

Many want to see an end to pandemic restrictions and vaccination mandates, including one from the federal government for cross-border truckers, while others have called for the ousting of the Liberal government.

Downtown vehicle parking and truck horns have proven disruptive to local residents and businesses, leading to a proposed class action lawsuit and court injunctions to try to stem the noise.

The protests have also inspired blockades at borders across Canada and other protests around the world.

In British Columbia, the Canada Border Services Agency announced on Saturday that the Pacific Highway border crossing in Surrey, B.C., was experiencing severe disruption due to “increased protest activity.” The CBSA says the Pacific Highway entry point remains open, but advises travelers to use an alternate processing site.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Quebec City, where officials say they have made three arrests as of Saturday afternoon.

In Toronto, police shut down much of downtown in case another protest convoy enters the city. Protesters gathered outside the provincial legislature without vehicles and police said the rally was peaceful.

Another protest took place in Edmonton on Saturday, and police stopped a convoy of dozens of vehicles Saturday north of the Regway border crossing in Saskatchewan, allowing only groups of 10 through.

With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press



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