Police arrest ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers in Ottawa
Police in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa began arresting demonstrators of the “Freedom Convoy” protests on Thursday night, according to The Washington Post.
The police move came after warnings earlier in the day to end the protests against vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 mitigation measures, which have disrupted the city for weeks, the Post reports.
The Ottawa police blocked off sections of the city, creating 100 checkpoints in downtown Ottawa that could only be accessed by residents.
The police also sequestered exits that lead to the city center off of the Trans-Canada Highway, according to The New York Times.
“Your time in our city has come to an end and you must leave,” said interim Police Chief Steve Bell, according to the Post, noting that the city had given the protesters multiple warnings.
Of those arrested was a key protest organizer, Tamara Lich, a spokeswoman for the demonstration confirmed to the Times.
The spokeswoman, Dagny Pawlak, told the Times that Linch’s arrest was “absolutely baseless and a disgrace to any liberal democracy, although not a surprise.”
Amid the controversy that has had economic consequences in Canada and the U.S., Ottawa’s police chief resigned and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the atypical stance of declaring a national public order emergency — a first in more than 50 years for the country, according to the Times.
Trudeau said Thursday, the Times reported, while speaking in Ottawa at the House of Commons, “It is high time that these illegal and dangerous activities stop, including here in Ottawa.”