Police began arrests of people protesting against Covid-19 mandates on Thursday evening, including two organizers, after promising imminent action to remove a weekslong encampment from the streets of Canada’s capital city.
The arrests came after multiple warnings from police to those involved in the blockade, known as the Freedom Convoy and now in its third week that they would face severe penalties if they didn’t leave the area voluntarily.
Ottawa’s Interim Police Chief Steve Bell told reporters that authorities had arrested at least 100 people for various offenses, including mischief, as of Friday afternoon. They included several convoy organizers and boosters. Police said they also had towed 21 vehicles.
Bell said officers were carrying out a “methodical and well-resourced plan” and would work until “the residents and community have their entire city back.” Police on Friday afternoon said in a tweet that some protesters were assaulting officers and trying to remove their weapons.
Ottawa’s former police chief called the blockades a “siege.” A local councilor said the demonstrations that have snarled the roads around Parliament, where protesters largely had free rein, blaring their horns at all hours and setting up bouncy castles and an inflatable hot tub were a “carnival of chaos.”
Under the Emergencies Act, a 1988 law invoked for the first time by Trudeau this week to quell the unrest, the protest area on Parliament Hill and in the surrounding parliamentary precinct has been declared a prohibited public assembly. The House of Commons canceled its Friday sitting because of the police operation.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: TNC NEWS