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17 Feb, 2022 20:48

Ottawa cops crack down on protesters

Police put up fencing and bring in reinforcements in bid to break anti-mandate Freedom Convoy protest
Ottawa cops crack down on protesters

Police have started to erect fencing around the Freedom Convoy protest in downtown Ottawa, Canada, and have brought in extra officers in a push to clear the demonstration. The move comes after the truckers were threatened with arrest under emergency powers enacted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Video footage captured on Thursday showed busloads of police arriving in downtown Ottawa, and officers purportedly holding crowd control drills. Meanwhile, workers were seen putting up metal fencing near the demonstration, which has brought traffic in the center of the Canadian capital to a standstill for nearly three weeks now.

Shortly after these videos surfaced, Ottawa Police announced that “residents are seeing a major increase in the number of police officers on our streets.” The force also stated that barriers and fencing are going up around the “core” of downtown Ottawa, cutting the protest off from the rest of the city. Only those who live and work within this area will be allowed to pass the barriers.

“The unlawful protesters must leave the area and will not be provided access,” Ottawa Police stated on Twitter.

Cops on Wednesday began handing out fliers to the protesters, warning them that they could face arrest if they refuse to leave. The notices also said that, thanks to emergency powers enacted by Trudeau on Monday, those traveling to Ottawa to join the protest are now also breaking the law, and face the risk of having their vehicles seized. 

“We’re going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space,” interim police chief Steve Bell told city councilors on Wednesday evening, adding that his officers would “remove this unlawful protest” and “return our city to a state of normalcy” in the coming days.

The emergency powers invoked by Trudeau also allow the government to order bank accounts linked with the protest frozen, and to suspend the trucking licenses of participants.