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Ottawa police warn of arrest for ‘anyone blocking streets’

Police in Ottawa on Wednesday warned truckers blocking downtown streets that they could be arrested if they did not leave the area as authorities look to bring an end to protests over COVID-19 restrictions.

“You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets, or assisting others in the blocking streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested,” police said on Wednesday in a notice to protesters.

“You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges,” they added. “The people of Ottawa are being denied the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property and you are causing businesses to close.”

Also on Wednesday, police were ticketing some vehicles that were blocking parts of the city’s downtown area, according to Reuters

The police action comes just one day after Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned amid criticism about his handling of the protests. 

Sloly had also been accused of bullying and volatile behavior toward senior leadership. 

The movement, known as the Freedom Convoy, began as a result of truckers who were against COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed in Canada. Now, after weeks of disruption caused by blockades of U.S.-Canadian border crossings, authorities have recently upped their efforts to bring an end to the protest.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday announced he would invoke Canada’s Emergencies Act, a policy that allows the federal government to use a broad range of powers, including military power, to disrupt the protest.

Police added on Wednesday that now that the emergency policy has been put into use “anyone coming to Ottawa for the purpose of joining the ongoing demonstration is breaking the law.”

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