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Ottawa Police move in on peaceful Freedom Convoy protest

Protestors in Ottawa were met with an increased police presence on Thursday after the city's interim police chief vowed to "take back" the area.

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Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver BC
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Protestors in Ottawa were met with an increased police presence on Thursday after the city's interim police chief vowed to "take back" the area.

On Thursday morning, protestors in downtown Ottawa woke up to increased police presence as authorities continue to ramp up their efforts to put an end to the Freedom Convoy demonstrations that have been going steady for weeks.

The move comes after Ottawa Interim Police Chief Steve Bell announced on Wednesday that he was "going to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space."

Over the past twenty-four hours, notices have been issued urging people to leave downtown Ottawa, but very few, if any, have complied.

"We want to inform you," the notice begins, "that you will face severe penalties under provincial and federal legislation if you do not cease further unlawful activity and remove your vehicle and/or property immediately from all unlawful protest sites."

The notice goes on to warn protestors that if they fail to abide by the request, they face the risk of criminal punishment, having their driver's license suspended or cancelled, having their bank accounts examined, and having their vehicle seized, among other penalties.

Those supplying the protest with fuel and other goods also run the risk of punishment.

Not mentioned on the notice is a threat that if a protestor is unable to take care of their pet as a result of being apprehended by police, it will be taken away for eight days. If the protestor is unable to make arrangements for its care after eight days, the pet "will be considered relinquished."

The notices were not well received by protestors, with many calling out the police for being on the wrong side of history.  "You're a shame to your country," one person said to an officer as they watched someone receive a notice. "This will go down in history."

In an emotional video, Freedom Convoy organizer Tamara Lich told supporters that it is "inevitable" that she will end up in jail, but that she is "not afraid."

Authorities have also begun installing fencing around Parliament, with certain entry points now completely blocked off. Truckloads of barriers continue to be brought into the downtown core.

Mass organized protests against vaccine mandates began in January, and have since spread across Canada and the world, with the largest taking place in Ottawa. The extra pressure on protestors comes after Prime Minister Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time since it was signed into law in 1988, a move which many, including four premiers and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, have questioned the necessity of.

The House of Commons will hear statements from MPs on Thursday before they decide whether to confirm the implementation of the act.

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