Ottawa police move to arrest freedom protesters

Police presence was seen growing around Parliament Hill Friday morning, with a large number of police and armored vehicles arriving on the scene.


As the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa crosses into its third week, Ottawa police moved in to crackdown on the protest, arresting convoy organizers late Thursday night, and setting up perimeters around the protest areas in near Parliament Hill on Friday morning.

Police presence was seen growing around Parliament Hill Friday morning, with a large number of police and armored vehicles arriving on the scene.

Access to Parliament Hill was blocked off overnight, with fencing going up during the day on Thursday. A large portion of protest action has occurred on the Hill, with trucks being congregated in the area, and spreading out into downtown.

As snow began to fall overnight, police reportedly began cracking down on those looking to join the protest, with police stopping vehicles at checkpoints in the area to question where they are heading.

"We absolutely are committed to end this unlawful demonstration," interim police chief Steve 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."

"This weekend will look very different than the past three weekends," he continued.

"It's time to go, this is coming to an end."

"The Ottawa Police Service wants to inform you that under provincial and federal legislation, you will face severe penalties if you do not cease further unlawful activity and remove your vehicle and/or property immediately from all unlawful protest sites," Ottawa Police wrote in a tweet Friday morning.

Overnight, two of the convoy's organizers were arrested and taken into custody. Police first arrested co-organizer Chris Barber, with an arrest for Tamara Lich coming later in the evening.

Both Lich and Barber were charged with counseling to commit the offense of mischief, with Barber being additionally charged with counseling to commit the offenses of disobeying a court order and obstructing police. They are both scheduled to appear in court on Friday, according to the Daily Mail.

The House of Commons has suspended its sitting for the day in response to the increased police activities in the area.

According to Reuters, the House said in a notice that went out: "If you are not in the House of Commons precinct, stay away from the downtown core until further notice."

Legislators are due to debate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act earlier this week for the first time in 50 years. The act temporarily grants the government additional widespread powers to deal with what he has called a threat to democracy.

Ottawa police have warned media members to keep their distance inside the area from police operations, warning that "anyone found within areas undergoing enforcement may be subject to arrest."


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