Ottawa’s parliamentary precinct has entered a ‘standoff’ as protesters and police resume their clash amid an increased crackdown on ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests.
The Parliamentary Protective Service says the order limits movement between buildings, but is not a lockdown. Anyone not on or near Parliament Hill is asked to avoid the area.
Early Saturday afternoon, Ottawa police said they had 47 additional arrests, in addition to more than 100 on Friday. Police also say they have towed 38 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.
Authorities appeared to take a more aggressive stance against protesters on Saturday morning.
Ottawa police say officers arrested protesters wear bulletproof vests and smoke grenades on them, as well as fireworks. They say police seized additional smoke grenades and fireworks from a vehicle on Wellington Street, where Parliament is located.
The police were also seen break the window of a truck as they advanced.
Late morning, the police had taken Wellington Street.
Senior law enforcement sources say they expect “break your backof the Ottawa protests today, reports CTV News.
“We told you to leave. We gave you time to leave. We were slow and methodical, but you were aggressive and aggressive towards the officers and the horses,” the Ottawa Police Service said in a statement. communicated. stern message saturday morning to protesters.
“Based on your behavior, we are responding by including helmets and batons for our safety.”
Police said they made more than 100 arrests on Friday and towed at least 21 vehicles out of the area around Parliament Hill, which served as a main site for protesters.
The streets were cleared of many vehicles, with some trucks leaving on their own on Friday.
At least 60 vehicles were seen Saturday morning along Wellington Street.
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”.
Although there are far fewer children seen at the protest site, Ottawa police say the protesters are continue to bring their children.
By law, children are prohibited from participating in protests and police have accused protesters of putting children in the way of law enforcement operations.
Acting Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell has said so far there is no need to work with the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa.
After adjourning debate on the Emergencies Act on Friday, the House of Commons resumed sitting today. A vote to confirm the use of the law could take place as early as Monday.
Protesters gather near a police line in downtown Ottawa on February 19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
In a virtual press conference that began just as police prepared to clear Wellington Street, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said that “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.
Helena Jaczek, minister responsible for economic development in southern Ontario, said the federal government is making up to $20 million available to businesses in downtown Ottawa that have been impacted by the protest, small sole proprietorships can apply for up to $10,000. each in relief.
MAIN ORGANIZERS ARRESTED, CHARGED
Among those arrested are four key organizers of the protests, 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. According to police, King will appear in court today.
Bulford, a former RCMP officer, drove up near the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel. However, the charges have yet to be officially announced.
The charges against Barber and Lich were announced early Friday morning.
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 is scheduled to appear in Ottawa court this morning for a bail hearing.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
Organizers of the “Freedom Convoy” also had their bank accounts frozen, including bitcoin and cryptocurrency funds, following an Ontario Superior Court ruling on Thursday.
Other demonstrators also left because their bank accounts have been frozen and their families have no access to finances, according to the police.
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
PROTESTERS AND POLICE MEET FACE TO FACE
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.
Despite calls to leave, many of which have, those who remained remain engaged, setting up snow barricades on roads south of Wellington Street, including one outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, with hockey sticks protruding from the top.
Police 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.
Authorities and politicians have often described the protests as an illegal “occupation.”
Under the Emergencies Act, which the federal government invoked Monday for the first time since it came into effect in 1988, police say those engaged in the protests are breaking the law.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is asking for a judicial review of the government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act.
On Friday, the association announced that it had filed a petition in Federal Court.
Another group, Canadian Frontline Nurses, which calls itself a “proud defender of medical freedom,” is seeking a court injunction to suspend use of the Emergency Act.
The Canadian Constitution Foundation is also seeking to challenge the Emergencies Act in court.
As officers slowly advanced on protesters on Friday, the situation grew heated at times, with shouts and insults hurled at police as well as pushing and shoving.
Mounted police responded to protesters on Rideau Street and CTV News saw people drag away a protester after police doused the individual with what appeared to be pepper spray. Another protester claimed an officer punched her.
Other mounted police charged at a large group of protesters later near the Senate House in an apparent attempt to herd the crowd towards Wellington Street. Many shouted, “You are trampling on us.
Ottawa police, meanwhile, say mounted officers were sent in to create “critical space between the police line and protesters,” adding that it was done to create “a safe distance.”
The police also accused the protesters of assault officers and attempt to withdraw their weapons. A person was arrested after allegedly throwing a bicycle at the feet of one of the horses in an attempt to injure it, police say.
Meanwhile, police in cities across Canada are preparing for more protests this weekend.
With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press
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