Ottawa police chief declares ‘occupation over’
Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell declared on Saturday that the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests in Canada’s capital were over after nearly 200 protesters were arrested and many others left the area.
“This unlawful occupation is over. We will continue with our mission until it is complete,” Bell declared, noting that some smaller protests in Ottawa remained.
The police chief revealed that 170 arrests had been made on Friday and Saturday alone. Protest organizer Tom Marazzo also declared on Saturday that many demonstrators had “decided to peacefully withdraw” and that they would “simply regroup as a grassroots movement.”
However, Bell vowed on Friday to hunt down those who had been involved in the protests and punish them financially. “If you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges,” he warned.
The protests were crushed soon after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers to deal with the demonstration, allowing authorities to freeze protester bank accounts and conduct arrests.
Viral videos subsequently showed police officers trampling protesters with horses, pepper-spraying journalists, and using other forms of violence – which drew both domestic and foreign condemnation.
US Congresswoman Yvette Herrell promised on Saturday to introduce legislation that would provide Canadian protesters with asylum, comparing Canada’s “heavy-handed crackdown against peaceful protesters” to that of “an authoritarian regime like Venezuela.” Herrell said Canada’s response to the protests were “not the action of a Western Democracy” and called the country “the embarrassment of the free world.”