Thursday 17 February 2022

Ottawa police are ticketing Freedom Convoy protesters, warning them to leave or face arrest

 Canadian truckers and other Freedom Convoy demonstrators are being ticketed by Ottawa police and warned to leave downtown immediately or risk arrest after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seized emergency powers to end the vaccine mandate protest.

Authorities informed the truckers that they could lose their licenses and have their vehicles seized by the government under the Emergencies Act, which Trudeau invoked Monday.

As police handed out tickets, several protesters remained defiant, according to the Associated Press. Some truckers reportedly ripped up leaflets ordering them to leave. Others threw the warning in a toilet put out on the street, while still others remained in their trucks and continued to honk their horns.

"I will never go home!" one demonstrator shouted.

The protesters are reportedly preparing to be removed by force, but police have not indicated if or when they will take such action.

For three weeks now, the Freedom Convoy protesters have log-jammed downtown Ottawa with thousands of trucks, while elsewhere protesters have attempted to form blockades at border crossings between the U.S. and Canada. The movement began as a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed on truckers who cross the border for work but won broad support from those opposed to coronavirus restrictions generally and Trudeau's leadership the pandemic. 

While the protests appear to be mostly peaceful, Ottawa residents have complained about being inconvenienced by the inability to access downtown, and some have reported they were harassed or intimidated by demonstrators.

Trudeau has called the protests "illegal" and variously referred to the demonstrators as racists, sexists, extremists, and fringe. After invoking emergency powers on Monday, Trudeau gave police greater authority to make arrests and impose fines on the protesters, whom he accused of engaging in "illegal and dangerous activities."

Authorities also claimed the power to have financial service providers seize funds donated to support the protests without a court order to do so.

With their enhanced powers, Ottawa police are reportedly "optimistic" they can regain control of downtown and remove the estimated 360 vehicles that remain, down from a high of about 4,000.

The police appear to be using the same tactics they used to clear the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan. Police there had distributed leaflets warning those participating in the blockade that they would be arrested unless they ceased and desisted.

Once enough of the protesters had left the area, police arrested those dozens that remained and cleared the blockade.

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