Police in Ottawa, Canada, used pepper spray and stun grenades and arrested nearly 200 who were part of the Freedom Convoy to protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions. Police also had more than 50 vehicles towed in an attempt to clear out demonstrators who have been protesting in the area for weeks.
At least 191 protesters were arrested and 57 vehicles were towed in the city’s downtown area as of Sunday evening, Ottawa Police tweeted, adding, “streets cleared.”
Late Sunday, the police department tweeted, “A Coventry Road location previously occupied by an unlawful assembly is now clear. 20 vehicles were towed and a police presence will remain in place to prevent anyone from returning.”
As a result of the police action, the Freedom Convoy was moved out of Ottawa after three weeks of demonstrations, CTV News Ottawa reported Sunday.
Before the crackdown, police tweeted: “If you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges.” It also wrote, “We continue to maintain a police presence in and around the area the unlawful protest occupied. We are using fences to ensure the ground gained back is not lost.”
At least two police-involved incidents were also reported Saturday at the protests in Ottawa. The province’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating them, CNN reported.
On Saturday evening, “there was an interaction between a Toronto Police Service officer on a horse and a 49-year-old woman on Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue. The woman has a reported serious injury,” the SIU was quoted as saying.
In the second incident, Vancouver Police Department officers discharged Anti-Riot Weapon Enfields (less-lethal firearms) at individuals in the area of Sparks Street and Bank Street, but no injuries were reported, the agency claimed.
Police said some protesters were wearing body armor and carried smoke grenades and fireworks.
“Protesters continue to be aggressive and assaultive on officers. They are refusing to comply with the orders to move. You will have seen officers use a chemical irritant in an effort to stop the assaultive behavior and for officer safety,” police tweeted Saturday.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also announced Sunday it had frozen the finances of individuals and companies associated with the ongoing protests.
The RCPM froze 206 bank and corporate accounts; disclosed the information of 56 entities associated with vehicles, individuals and companies; shared 253 bitcoin addresses with virtual currency exchangers; and froze a payment processing account valued at $3.8 million, CNN reported quoting RCPM’s deputy commissioner of federal policing, Mike Duheme.
Samuel Sey, a Ghanaian-Canadian who lives in Brampton, a city just outside of Toronto, earlier wrote in op-ed for The Christian Post about his experience as a supporter of the Freedom Convoy.
“Though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the truckers are just a ‘small, fringe minority’ with ‘unacceptable views,’ there were probably 5,000 people at the overpass that I was at,” he wrote, adding: “I don’t want anyone to suffer from COVID. And I don’t want anyone to suffer from vaccine mandates either. The two are not mutually exclusive. COVID has killed many people. However, that isn’t an excuse for the government to kill our spirits.”
Sey added, “It’s almost impossible to maintain a job or attend a post-secondary school — even if a person works at home or takes online courses — without getting the vaccine … Across the country, unvaccinated Canadians are banned from restaurants, movie theatres, concerts, gyms, some trains, and planes.”
Many U.S. Republicans have shown support for Canada’s Freedom Convoy.
“Justin Trudeau’s heavy-handed crackdown against peaceful protesters in Canada is not the action of a Western Democracy, but that of an authoritarian regime like Venezuela,” Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., tweeted Saturday. “Just as we provide asylum for political prisoners, we should do the same for truckers who have been subjected to violence, had their property confiscated, and their bank accounts frozen by a government that is quickly becoming the embarrassment of the free world.”