Canadian police clash with protesters opposed to Covid warrants

Police wearing helmets and shields made several arrests Friday night in the Canadian capital after clashing with protesters opposing COVID-19 mandates.

Large trucks attempted to drive to Parliament Hill as part of the Rolling Thunder rally, organized by Freedom Fighters Canada, a group dedicated to speaking out against COVID-19 mandates.

Many protesters were also part of the three-week Freedom Convoy demonstration that blocked downtown Ottawa earlier this year with large trucks, prompting Canada’s federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time. This demonstration ended after hundreds of police intervened to disperse the crowd, making dozens of arrests.

Ottawa police pledged earlier on Friday that protesters would not be allowed to set foot for an extended occupation.

More than 800 reinforcements were called in from the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police and regional police departments to guard every major downtown intersection and prevent protesters from bringing vehicles into the downtown core.

Things started calmly, with cries of Freedom! as protesters mingled and danced on Wellington Street, the main driveway in front of Parliament Hill. Protesters also marched through the ByWard Market with a police escort.

But early in the evening, police warned that a large convoy was trying to enter the town. Soon, hundreds of protesters crowded around large trucks and motorhomes just outside the parliamentary precincts.

Demonstrators shouted to hold the line, trying to move the police away from the vehicles. Police attempted to push the crowds away from the trucks and back towards Parliament Hill.

By late Friday afternoon, city officials said they had issued 185 tickets and towed 20 vehicles linked to the rally.

Ottawa City Councilor Jeff Leiper reported seeing police smash the window of a truck to gain control of the vehicle. Police officers were seen making arrests in the street.

On Saturday, protesters plan to circle downtown, stopping at the National War Memorial and marching to a rally on Parliament Hill.

Vehicles involved in the rally will not be allowed in an area that includes the war memorial and parliament, police said. They will also not be allowed to stop along the route, but participants can cross the area on foot.

The Rolling Thunder band hasn’t been clear what cause they’re rallying to, other than to say they’ll be in Ottawa to “peacefully celebrate our freedom.”

A statement on the Rolling Thunder website attributed to organizer Neil Sheard says protesters plan to leave on Sunday and do not support blockades, obstruction of police duty, damage materials or hatred and vitriol directed at Ottawa residents.

The statement also encourages supporters to obey the law and says the police will be held accountable in court for their actions during the event.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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