Canadian police secured the heart of downtown in the capital city of Ottawa on Sunday. Fencing went up as city workers cleaned up trash and snowplows cleared streets after two days of tense standoffs and 191 arrests ended a three-week occupation that choked city streets and blocked major trade routes between Canada and the United States.
Demonstrators had used hundreds of trucks and vehicles to block the city center since January 28th, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke rarely used emergency powers. Seventy-six vehicles had been towed, police said. Those arrested so far face 389 different criminal charges, including obstructing police, disobeying a court order, assault, mischief, possessing a weapon, and assaulting a police officer, Ottawa’s Interim Police Chief Steve Bell told reporters.
The protesters initially wanted an end to cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, but the blockade turned into a demonstration against Trudeau and the government. On Saturday, police used pepper spray and stun grenades on the die-hard protesters who remained, clearing most of the area in front of parliament. Other demonstrators abandoned their positions in other parts of the downtown area during the night.
My friends in Ottawa called the Trucker Convoy the Ivermectin Insurrection. I have NEVER seen so many tin foil hats in one place, everyone asking me when Trump is coming back
— Sandi Bachom (@sandibachom) February 20, 2022
The Ottawa protests weren’t the only ones happening in the country; during the past two days of protests in British Columbia, a group temporarily shut down a border crossing south of Vancouver on Saturday, several TV reporters were harassed, insulted, threatened, and pushed by demonstrators.
I was doing a live hit with @MSNBC this afternoon when our crew was mobbed. One guy actually spit at us, others called us Nazis. MSNBC had to cut it off almost after it began. Then they chased us down the street to our bureau. pic.twitter.com/K21NIHgGCS
— Glen McGregor (@glen_mcgregor) February 19, 2022
And although the Ambassador Bridge spanning the Detroit River between Canada and the United States was reopened earlier this week, the trucker protests dubbed the Freedom Convoys are still going on elsewhere—not just in Ottawa, where they began in late January, but now also in New Zealand and in Paris. There are also concerns a similar convoy may be planned to block President Joe Biden’s upcoming State of the Union address, and it has already has support in Congress.
— Tara Dublin (@taradublinrocks) February 20, 2022
On Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau had invoked emergency powers to give his government wider authority to stop the protests, including sweeping powers to freeze the accounts of those suspected of supporting the blockades, without obtaining a court order. So far 206 bank and corporate accounts have been frozen, and one financial institution blocked a “payment processor” account holding C$3.8 million ($2.98 million), police said, adding that they were still collecting information on companies and people.