News ID: 100125
Publish Date : 18 February 2022 - 22:14

Canadian Police Arresting Leaders of Ottawa ‘Freedom Convoy’ Protest

OTTAWA, Ontario (AFP) - Canadian police on Thursday began arresting e trucker-led protesters as truckers and their supporters continue to block roads to protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
A video posted to the Twitter account for the so-called “Freedom Convoy” showed Tamara Lich, one of the organizers, being taken into police custody on Thursday night.
The earlier arrest of another leader, Chris Barber, was also captured in a video shared on the same account.
The convoy had started with truckers protesting against mandatory COVID vaccines to cross the U.S. border, but its demands have grown to include an end to all pandemic restrictions and, for many, a wider anti-establishment agenda.
At its peak, the movement also included blockades of a half-dozen U.S.-Canada border crossings—including the key route between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.
Earlier on Thursday, Lich posted a tearful video to say she was expecting to be arrested.
She called on supporters to flood the capital, saying truckers already in place “are gonna stay and fight for your freedom.”
“If you can come to Ottawa and stand with us, that would be fantastic,” she said.
But city police chief Steve Bell said access to downtown Ottawa would be restricted to prevent people joining the demonstration, and he warned of “imminent” action against those already there.
Criticized for failing to act decisively, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week invoked the Emergencies Act, which gives the government sweeping powers to deal with a major crisis.
It is only the second time such powers have been invoked in peacetime.
Police were deployed in force into the area around the Canadian parliament, where hundreds of big rigs remained parked.
“We’ve begun to harden the perimeter around the protests,” Bell said.
Trudeau defended his decision to resort to the Emergencies Act, saying the act was not being used to call in the military, and denied restricting freedom of expression.
The objective was simply to “deal with the current threat and to get the situation fully under control,” he told the House of Commons.
Several provincial premiers have denounced the use of the emergency measures. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association accused the federal government of not having met the threshold for invoking the act.
One notable feature of the current government’s reaction is its effort to demonize the protest movement, describing it in such disparaging terms as disruptive, hateful, and thuggish even as the protests have been largely peaceful.
Ottawa’s Police Chief Peter Sloly was forced to resign under intense pressure from authorities for not being tough enough in handling the mass protests.