Canadian police arrested two ringleaders in the Ottawa trucker protest and authorities continued Friday to break up the demonstration that has paralyzed the city for three weeks.
Two key protest organizers Chris Barber and Tamara Lich were among several of those arrested on Thursday and Friday.
The Canadian parliament was canceled Friday because police were clashing with demonstrators in and around Parliament Hill and the situation was too dangerous for members of parliament to convene in the House of Commons.
As well as making arrests, police have had several vehicles towed from the downtown. Friday afternoon, one man locked himself into his truck and police smashed the windows and dragged him from the vehicle. But for the most part the situation was free of violence.
Ottawa police consulted with the Ottawa Children’s Aid Society in a bid to keep the children of protesters in the downtown safe.
Police set up about 100 checkpoints with steel barriers so as to contain the protesters and to stop others from moving in to join the demonstrators.
The protests began on Jan. 29 when hundreds of transport trucks from across Canada surged into downtown Ottawa, Canada’s federal capital, to protest vaccine mandates for truckers. At one point there were at least 500 big transport trucks and an estimated 10,000 protesters gathered in the city core.
The demonstration soon mushroomed into a protest against all COVID-19 health regulations.
As the protests dragged on, demonstrators murmured about overthrowing the duly elected Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau refused to meet with the ringleaders as the city remained in a state of chaos.
Ottawa police were paralyzed as the protesters roamed the downtown core. Finally, the Trudeau government, for the first time in Canada’s history, temporarily invoked the Emergencies Act Tuesday, giving police broad powers to deal with the protest.
“It is now clear that there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law,” Trudeau told a news conference Monday afternoon.
“It is no longer a lawful protest at a disagreement over government policy. It is now an illegal occupation. It’s time for people to go home.”
In the face of criticism for the force’s inaction, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly resigned Tuesday, the day after Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act. Deputy Chief Steve Bell was made interim chief. At a Thursday press conference, Bell issued a stark warning to protesters that police were no longer going to tolerate the situation.
“Action is imminent,” Bell said. “It’s time to go. Your time in our city has come to an end and you must leave.”
The Ottawa police, bolstered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and officers from the Surete du Quebec police force mobilized and encircled the protest area Thursday and made some arrests.
On Friday, the action intensified as police brought the protests to an end.
Barber and Lich are charged with counseling to commit mischief. In addition, Barber faces charges of disobeying a court order and counseling to obstruct police. The pair were scheduled to appear in court later Friday.
Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.