Canadian law enforcement officers have arrested over 100 people in Ottawa who had gathered at the capital city amid the so-called Freedom Convoy to protest against Prime Minister Trudeau's COVID-19 vaccination policies.
It was one of the largest police operations in the country's history and it included mounted police units against unarmed civilians, while nearly two dozen vehicles had been towed from the city's main streets, authorities reported.
Tow operators, wearing neon green balaclavas and their company decals affixed to their trucks to hide their identities, arrived with a police escort to remove the trucks, mobile homes and other vehicles that were part of the blockade.
Clashes also broke out between police and protesters. The crowd was pushed back amid cries of Freedom!
Judging from Friday's actions, it is believed the police will try to remove the remaining vehicles and people from the streets of Ottawa during the weekend.
The Freedome Convoy had stormed Ottawa to protest against Trudeau's COVID-19 policies for the past three weeks.
With some officers dressed in tactical gear and carrying automatic weapons, police began a crackdown on Thursday night, reportedly arresting organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber around the capital’s Parliament Hill area. Authorities also sealed off a large section of the city’s center to prevent people, including reporters, from entering.
“All media who are attending the area, please keep a distance and stay out of police operations for your safety,” Ottawa police tweeted Friday. “Anyone found within areas undergoing enforcement may be subject to arrest.”
The police action also led to the country’s House of Commons suspending its Friday session after the Parliament building had been the focal point of the protests.
Some of the protesters were led away in handcuffs, while others surrendered and were taken into custody, while the operation to clear the streets might take days, according to media reports.
Despite the police action, some of the truckers remained defiant. “Freedom was never free,” trucker Kevin Homaund of Montreal told the AP. “So what if they put the handcuffs on us and they put us in jail?” Earlier in the week, three border blockades, which had obstructed trade between the U.S. and Canada, ended peacefully, while Trudeau invoked
Canada’s Emergencies Act, giving law enforcement extraordinary latitude to make arrests, freeze bank accounts and tow trucks.