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Ottawa residents relieved as police clear protests

After 22 days of horns and diesel fumes, some Ottawa residents are expressing relief after police began clearing protesters from downtown.

“It’s been very difficult,” an annoyed Ottawan told CTV News. “It’s been the worst three weeks of the entire pandemic for me.”

“Walking this part of my neighborhood here has been quite difficult,” said another. “Mainly because the air quality has been absolutely terrible with diesel and trucks running all the time.”

Still, many protesters are undeterred by the police crackdown, which began on Friday.

“You know how it feels when you go on an all-inclusive vacation?” said a fan. “That’s how downtown has been.”

Civil servant Zexi Li is leading a class action project regarding alleged damage caused by the COVID-19 mandate protests. On February 7, the 21-year-old was able to obtain a court injunction to silence the incessant honking.

“I don’t think people knew how terrible it was until we got the injunction,” she told CTV News. “It was literally sonic torture. They laughed at us for keeping us up at night, but they didn’t care because their rights took precedence over ours.

The lawsuit now seeks more than $300 million in damages. On Thursday, an Ontario judge froze up to $20 million in cash and cryptocurrency linked to the protest movement.

“In reality, what this convoy has done is hold businesses and people hostage to get the government to give in to their demands,” lead attorney Paul Champ told CTV News. “It’s wrong and illegal and we’re going to see compensation.”

Local businesses say it will take time to recover after three weeks of constant disruption.

“Family Day weekend is one of the best weekends,” restaurant owner John Borsten told CTV News. “I’m talking hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales, which means tens of thousands of tips and lost wages for all staff.”

“Hopefully this issue will be resolved and things will return to normal,” restaurant manager Johnny Bonney said. “There is a lot to look forward to.”

Erected to keep other protesters out, numerous police checkpoints in downtown Ottawa will likely continue to make life difficult for commuters for some time to come.

“It takes forever, and to be honest with you, I’m sick of it,” a frustrated driver told CTV News while in a traffic jam.

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