WATCH: New Ottawa police chief says freedom protesters will be punished financially and criminally

"If you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges," said interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

In a Saturday press conference, interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said that those who attended the weeks-long peaceful Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa could face charges and financial sanctions, even if they have since retreated, and that these investigations could continue for "months to come."

Bell was pressed about reports that police are gathering intelligence through camera that the police have been using, what this information would be used for, and whether protesters would see repercussions down the road.

"The simple answer is yes, if you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges," said Bell at the weekend press briefing. "Absolutely."

"This investigation will go on for months to come. It has many, many different streams, both from a federal financial level, from a provincial licensing level, from a criminal code level, from a municipal breach of court order, breach of court injunction level," said Bell.

"It will be a complicated and time consuming investigation that will go on for a period of time. You have my commitment that that investigation will continue and we will hold people accountable for taking our streets over," he added.

Leading into the weekend, Ottawa police began taking increasing action to clear the protesters, which had been there for over three weeks, from the city.

Early last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he would be invoking the Emergencies Act to deal with the protest within the city.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that they would authorize freezing bank accounts where they suspect the account holder is taking part in or funding the protests, including cryptocurrencies.

On Thursday evening, police arrested two of the convoy's organizers. Throughout the evening and into Friday, the police began closing off areas of Parliament hill and setting up checkpoints within the city.

"We absolutely are committed to end this unlawful demonstration," Bell told reporters on Thursday. "We have the plan, we have the commitment, we have the resources. Police will set up a perimeter with 100 checkpoints around downtown to stop people without legitimate reason from entering."

On Saturday, police took increasing action to clear the protesters, including using horses, towing trucks, and batons on the remaining demonstrators.


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