Ottawa police chief Steve Bell warned organizers of the coming "Rolling Thunder" protest set to take place in the city this weekend that they will be held accountable for their actions.
Bell told the Ottawa Police Services Board on Monday that the estimated 500 to 1,000 cyclists will be held accountable.
The protests, however, will have to take place on foot, as protests in the downtown core are currently not permitted.
Bell said that police are establishing an exclusionary zone bordered by the Rideau Canal to the east, the Ottawa River to the north, Lyon Street to the west and Laurier Avenue to the south, reports CTV News.
"I want to be clear with both organizers and participants: you will be held accountable for your actions before, during, and after the events," Bell said.
"We have identified that based on what’s occurred in our city over the last number of months, that vehicle-based protests shouldn’t occur in that area," Bell said to Newstalk 580 on Monday.
The move to ban protestors vehicles in the downtown core comes as a result of the Freedom Convoy protests that took place in the capital during much of February. Trucks in the city paralyzed much of the downtown core for more over three weeks.
"Our communities are scarred by what happened in February. They were deeply hurt and deeply affected by that," Bell said. "They expect us to maintain community safety and well-being in their areas, and we’re putting plans in place to make sure we do that."
"Depending on how it unfolds, that should loosen up Sunday and move into regular operations next week," he said.
"We’re a city and a police service that absolutely understands and protects peoples’ right to lawfully demonstrate. We will continue to do that," he said. "People can attend the War Memorial. We encourage them to. It will just be on foot."
Bell said that the Ottawa Police have been in contact with organizers of the Rolling Thunder protests, and have made it clear that protestors are welcomed so long as they protest lawfully.
"If people are driving through respectfully an area in their rally, to come follow our course and be out and back onto the Queensway to be gone, we’re absolutely going to facilitate that," he said. "If they’re roaming around neighbourhoods, creating public safety concerns or issues, we are going to use our enforcement abilities."
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