Police arrest 70 as Ottawa protest cleared out
Police say they have made 70 arrests and progress in clearing out truckers who have paralyzed Ottawa for three weeks in a protest against Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Hundreds of police moved into the capital’s downtown Friday morning and began taking protesters into custody and towing away big rigs blocking the streets. Many truckers left on their own.
Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell says police are in control of the situation on the ground and are continuing to push forward to take control the streets. He says they will work around the clock until that happens.
Earlier Friday, some officers carrying automatic weapons and wearing tactical unit uniforms were seen going door to door along a line of trucks, campers and other vehicles parked on Ottawa’s snow-covered streets.
"I don’t want to get arrested today because I want to be able to continue fighting my fight, and I’ve heard word that… if I do get arrested I’d have to sign a paper saying, I’m not coming back to Ottawa, but we need to go somewhere, this is my right to be here," Jeromy Glass, who is protesting the vaccine mandates, said Friday morning.
Glass was not with the truckers but protested along side them "for the people that can’t be here."
Some protesters surrendered and were taken into custody, police said. Some were seen being led away in handcuffs. One person being led away was carrying a sign that read "Mandate Freedom."
"I’m willing to take it all the way, and by all the way, I mean, dropping to my knees, putting up a peace sign and they still have to remove me at that point I’ve protested peacefully the whole time I’ve been here," Glass said.
Police made their first move to end the occupation late Thursday with the arrest of two key protest leaders. They also sealed off much of the downtown area to outsiders to prevent them from coming to the aid of the self-styled Freedom Convoy protesters.
The capital represented the movement’s last stronghold after three weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the U.S., caused economic damage to both countries and created a political crisis for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The demonstrations around the country by protesters in trucks, tractors and motor homes initially focused on Canada’s vaccine requirement for truckers entering the country but soon morphed into a broad attack on COVID-19 precautions and Trudeau’s government.
"This isn’t about vaccinations and mandates, this is about our overall freedom," Glass said.