Twenty-two days after a convoy of trucks rammed into the nation’s capital to protest against pandemic restrictions, police moved in to crack down on protesters in downtown Ottawa on Friday morning, in hopes of ending weeks of stalemate that have dragged on the city, angered local residents and rocked the nation.
After an unusually heavy night of snow, while police made multiple arrests, hundreds of police officers gathered downtown on Friday morning. Lines of policemen wearing fluorescent vests, seen walking steadily forward, supported by at least two armored vehicles, and tactical officers armed with rifles and helmets.
Several heavy-duty trailers with license plates removed and company names labeled Ottawa police were starting to tow protesters’ trucks.
Police arrested three protesters. Among those arrested on Thursday night was Tamara Lich, a leading activist, fundraiser and singer who has advocated secession in Canada’s western provinces. She became one of the main voices of the protest movement.
The police mobilization comes after criticism that law enforcement was moving too slowly to end the protests, allowing protesters to mock locals for wearing masks. , honking their horns in quiet residential areas and vandalizing local businesses.
About two dozen police cars were ready, along with trucks to transport detainees, and a convoy of trailers, escorted by police. The buzzing of police drones can be heard overhead.
The House of Representatives also canceled a debate scheduled for Friday, citing police activity.
Law enforcement created a perimeter with about 100 checkpoints in downtown Ottawa, to prevent anyone but residents from entering, and declared the city center a safe area. Security closed to outsiders.
Among the protesters there was a mood of defiance. There was a sense of anticipation throughout the truck’s garrison as reports came in from their organizers via a shared string of text messages that police cruisers had been sighted. in large numbers outside the rally.
A few blocks from Parliament is a party atmosphere, including a man calling himself “Ottawa Magus” painting everyone’s faces red as a bagpipe player plays the Canadian national anthem.
Logjam in the nation’s capital, the week-long blockade of the Ontario Bridge, which is so critical to the auto manufacturers’ supply chains, and media coverage of all of it across the board. The globe has given the protests an overwhelming resonance and impact.
As police crack down on protests, the so-called “Liberty Convoy” is likely to endure long after the last lorries depart – if only a vivid sample of how the Civilian compliance can be effective, especially in a liberal democracy where the threshold for allowing law enforcement to intervene to prevent protests can be high.
Like 2011’s Occupy Wall Street, the Canadian convoys show what seem like fringe political movements can rally forces at a time of anxiety – and when the world’s cameras are on them. Back then, the driving force was anger at widespread social inequality. These days it is a deadly global pandemic.
In addition to Ms. Lich, Chris Barber, another main organizer, was also arrested on Thursday. Lich faces one count of “consulting to commit mischief,” and Mr Barber charged with “consulting to commit mischief, advising to commit misdemeanor disobedience to a court order, and counsel to commit the crime of obstruction of police,” Ottawa police said in statements Friday. The two organizers will appear in court on Friday.
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Dagny Pawlak, a spokesman for the protest, called Ms Lich’s arrest “completely baseless and a disgrace to any liberal democracy”.
Ms. Lich, of Medicine Hat, Alberta, has emerged as a public figure and the most visible leader of the convoy fighting the restrictions of the pandemic. She’s a former fitness instructor who worked in the energy industry and sings and plays guitar in a band called “Blind Mondays” in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Throughout the protests, Ms. Lich has been adept at deploying social media – and her Twitter feed – to amplify protesters’ grievances. Just before her arrest, she told a local reporter her message to the protesters was to “hold the line.”
In a sign of growing frustration over the protests, on Thursday the scope of a class action lawsuit against protesters was expanded to include more workers and businesses. than whose livelihood was affected by the protests. In total, the lawsuit is seeking approximately 306 million Canadian dollars in lost income.
Protests began a few weeks ago with a loosely organized group of truckers protesting demands that they be vaccinated if they cross the US-Canada border. They expanded into a broader movement protesting a range of pandemic measures and in general to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Mr. Trudeau took the rare step this week to declare a nationwide state of public order emergency – the first such declaration in half a century – to end the protests.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/world/canada/canada-protest-arrests.html The police force bloomed in Ottawa as a prelude to the grip