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“Freedom Convoy” fully dispersed from Canadian capital

Monday, February 21st 2022 - 09:10 UTC
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Ottawa police will “make sure that nobody returns to occupy our streets again,” Bell said Ottawa police will “make sure that nobody returns to occupy our streets again,” Bell said

Law enforcement officers have completely cleared the streets of Canada's capital city of Ottawa after arresting nearly 200 protesters belonging to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” of truckers, which opposed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's COVID-19 vaccination mandates and other sanitary restrictions.

Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell Sunday announced the operation's success during a press conference, while city workers cleaned up the streets after two days of tense standoffs and 191 arrests ended a three-week uprising. Police also handed out flyers warning the few protesters who remained in suburban Ottawa to leave soon or risk arrest and a fine.

Demonstrators had blocked the city's downtown with lorries and other vehicles since Jan. 28, prompting Trudeau to invoke rarely used emergency powers. Seventy-six vehicles had been towed, police said.

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 his government.

Police had used pepper spray and stun grenades on the die-hard protesters who remained in front of parliament Saturday.

Those arrested face 389 different criminal charges, including obstructing police, disobeying a court order, assault, mischief, possessing a weapon and assaulting a police officer, Bell told reporters.

“We're not done with this operation yet,” he added. Over the “next several days” police will determine “how we maintain a presence and make sure that nobody returns to occupy our streets again.”

Protesters who were filmed by police and have since left the city will be held to account, Bell added. ”We will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges... This investigation will go on for months to come.”

Trudeau had invoked emergency powers Monday to give his government ample rein to crush protests and even to freeze without a court order the bank accounts of those suspected of supporting the blockades. So far 206 bank and corporate accounts have been frozen, but Trudeau's forces were still collecting information on companies and people, it was reported.

Parliament continued debate over the use of the emergency powers on Sunday, with a required vote and expected passage of the powers due Monday. The powers were fundamental in coordinating police to break up the Ottawa protest, Bell said.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair has hinted the extraordinary powers may not be needed much longer.

Categories: Politics, International.

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