Police threaten to arrest protesting truckers
Police in the Canadian capital, Ottawa threatened the Freedom Convoy protesters on Wednesday with fines, arrests, and seizure of their trucks if they do not stop their “mischief.” The truckers demand an end to vaccine mandates and other Covid-19 restrictions in Canada.
To “obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property,” is a criminal offense known as “mischief to property,” Ottawa police announced on Wednesday afternoon, adding that the “unlawful act of blocking streets in the downtown core” amounts to just such a crime.
Anyone blocking the streets or assisting others in doing so, directly or indirectly, may be guilty of that offense and may be arrested without a warrant, they said. Those arrested may be denied bail, and their property – including trucks – may be seized and forfeited.
“You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you may face charges,” police said.
Message to Demonstrators from the Ottawa Police Service.It is a criminal offence to obstruct, interrupt or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property. The offence is known as mischief to property. https://t.co/6QC2glXC0K#ottnews Le français suivra— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) February 9, 2022
Ottawa is also threatening hefty fines for idling, open fire, and noise complaints – all designed to force the truckers to leave – according to the CBC.
Police are saying that charges and convictions related to the ‘mischief’ protest may “lead to denial” of the ability to cross the US border. One of the reasons the truckers cited for the protest is that the Covid-19 vaccine mandate is currently preventing many of them from doing just that.
Hundreds of truckers and their supporters launched the Freedom Convoy on January 22, driving across Canada to arrive in Ottawa on January 29. They have camped outside parliament ever since, honking their horns and demanding an end to vaccine, mask, and other mandates and restrictions related to the pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to meet with the protesters, calling the truckers a “fringe minority with unacceptable views,” and accusing them of violence, racism, bigotry, and even Nazi sympathies. The Canadian authorities have also denounced the protest as an “insurrection” and a “threat to our democracy.”
With the standoff between truckers, their supporters and the Canadian authorities going into its second week, Ottawa police moved to confiscate thousands of liters of fuel from the truckers. Protest sympathizers responded by forming crowds to deliver diesel to the truckers. On Monday, an Ottawa judge issued an injunction prohibiting the honking of car and truck horns – and the truckers mostly complied, though they remained in place.
Another group of protesters has since blocked the Ambassador Bridge on the US-Canadian border, which handles a quarter of all trade between the two countries. The bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario has not yet been reopened to traffic. An earlier blockade of a major US-Canada border crossing in Alberta has continued as well, despite repeated police threats.
While protests continue to grip Ottawa, three Canadian provinces announced on Tuesday that they would gradually lift their pandemic mandates and restrictions.