After two days of warning Freedom Convoy protesters of the consequences of remaining in Ottawa’s downtown, and 22 days of semi trucks locking down the city, police are finally moving in on the protest as a whole.
Updated Friday, February 18, 2022 4:00 p.m. EST - Drivers attempting to leave the protest appear to be getting stopped at checkpoints and ticketed by police, the Ottawa Citizen reports. There have been 21 arrests so far and multiple vehicles towed in the background of livestreams. Police seem to be squeezing protesters into smaller and smaller space in the downtown area. The police and protesters have been in a stand off all afternoon, we’ll update when the situation changes.
Police arrested Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber Thursday night.
Ottawa police distributed leaflets to protesters two days ago warning protester that: “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. You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you will face charges.” Police are warning protesters today to expect a $1,000 to $6,000, fine if they remain, which double in case of repeated violations.
Police announced this afternoon that children remain at the protest.
The Ottawa Citizen reports the police build up in the area has been going on for a few days now. Extra cops and vehicles have joined the fray to end the three-week long siege:
Protesters watched nervously as police officers began massing near Rideau Street mall.
Police were lined up downtown near The Westin as protesters could be heard defiantly chanting and honking horns in the background. Several dozen demonstrators carrying Canadian flags and signs saying “We’re not leaving” were in the area but were outnumbered by hundreds of police officers who warned them to leave or face arrest.
Demonstrators lined up, linking arms in front of police who were dressed in riot gear. There was an armoured truck on the scene as well.
A second column of police was getting into position behind a first row before officers began pushing back protesters and yelling “Back up!” as protesters countered with “Freedom!” and claimed that they have a right to be there.
Pat King, an organizer who attempted to flee the city after asking police to join the protesters but was stopped by police checkpoints, told protesters on Facebook Live to hold the line. He was arrested this afternoon while streaming live on Facebook:
Police warned media not to enter the protest zone, as they would also be subject to arrest. Various livestreams of the city show police in tight formations arresting protesters.