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Police make over 100 arrests in Ottawa, accuse protesters of assaulting officers

Large groups of police officers moved in on protesters in downtown Ottawa Friday, making more than 100 arrests—including high profile organizers Tamara Lich, Chris Barber and Pat King—during intense clashes with the demonstrators who refuse to leave the area.

Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell called the effort to move in on protesters “methodical” and “well thought out” during a Friday afternoon press conference, commending officers for maintaining control of the situation on the ground.

“We will run this operation 24 hours a day until the residents and community have their city back,” Bell said.

Throughout the day, both on Twitter and over loudspeakers in the streets, police urged protesters to leave, warning “anyone within the unlawful protest site may be arrested.” As of Friday evening, police reported upwards of 100 arrests and at least 21 vehicles has been towed.

By evening, the situation grew more heated as mounted police advanced on protesters on Rideau Street. CTV News witnessed at least one protester who was carried away by others after being sprayed by police with what was believed to be pepper spray. Another claimed she was punched by an officer.

Later, a number of mounted police charged a large group of protesters facing police lines near the Senate in an apparent effort to corral the crowd up toward Wellington Street. Many in the shocked crowd ran, some yelling, "You are trampling us!" 

On Twitter, Ottawa Police accused protesters of assaulting officers and attempting to remove officers’ weapons as police faced off with protesters.

“Protesters are assaulting officers, have attempted to remove officer’s weapons. All means of de-escalation have been used to move forward in our goal of returning Ottawa to it’s normalcy,” read the tweet.

“The protesters continued their assaultive behaviour with the police line, to prevent an escalation or further injury, mounted officers were sent in to create critical space between the police line and protesters. This is done to create a safe distance.”

Police also said, as this was happening "a bicycle was thrown at the feet of one of the horses in an attempt to injure it,” resulting in at least one arrest.

Bell said that the emergency measures declared at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels are all being used to conduct arrests. Those arrested have been charged with various offences, including mischief.

"Without the authorities being provided to us from these various pieces of legislation, we wouldn't be able to do the work we're doing today," he said.

Among those arrested is convoy organizer Pat King, who livestreamed his arrest on Facebook.

He is seen in a vehicle with at least two other people as an officer asks him to step out. A second officer is seen on the passenger side of the vehicle.

King responds by saying he would like to call his lawyer right away.

"I'm being arrested. We'll talk to you guys soon," he says before the video ends.

King asked demonstrators to walk to Parliament Hill and for trucks to jackknife in front of tow trucks. He also threatened to find out which companies drivers belong to, accusing drivers of "career suicide."

He later asked drivers to retreat from downtown Ottawa to a truck stop, but also said that those who want to go to Parliament Hill on foot should do so.

Another organizer, former RCMP officer Daniel Bulford, was also arrested Friday afternoon after turning himself in near the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel. 

Earlier in the day, Ottawa police announced charges were laid against two other convoy organizers, as efforts ramp up to arrest those who have camped out in the city's downtown for weeks, and tow their vehicles.

Christopher John Barber, 46, of Swift Current, Sask., who police arrested Thursday night, has been charged with counselling to commit the offence of mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order and counselling to commit the offence of obstructing police.

According to The Canadian Press, a judge with the Ontario Court of Justice said late Friday that bail can be granted to Barber. Justice Julie Bourgeois is hearing submissions on the conditions of his release.

Fellow organizer Tamara Lich, 49, of Medicine Hat, Alta., also is charged with counselling to commit the offence of mischief. The charges against them have not been proven in court.

Both were scheduled to appear in court Friday; however, those hearings were pushed back, according to reports.

King, Lich and other organizers of the so-called Freedom 2022 protests also saw a temporary freeze to their bank accounts -- including Bitcoin and cryptocurrency funds -- following an Ontario Superior Court ruling on Thursday.

Meanwhile, in Ottawa's downtown, images from the morning showed police moving slowly on a relatively smaller line of protesters, with some demonstrators being pulled out of the group and onto the ground before being arrested.

Police are staffing dozens of checkpoints around the downtown core designed to prevent any new protesters from arriving to reinforce those inside the perimeter, only permitting entry of people who work, live or have a "lawful reason" to be in the area.

The action against protesters is expected to continue into Saturday.

While some on the outer edges of the downtown protest packed their bags and appeared to be preparing to leave, others showed no signs of leaving despite police action nearby. Some protesters continued to gather in the street in front of Parliament Hill, delivering speeches from a makeshift stage and encouraging others to “hold the line.”

Earlier Friday, protesters could be seen linking arms, standing face-to-face with police, while chanting "freedom," "hold the line," "my body, my choice" and singing the national anthem. Others chanted, "shame," "traitor," and "choose your side," as well as, "you are working for a dictator," "we are peaceful demonstrators," and "this is illegal."

CTV News witnessed police break into a camper van. A person later emerged before being arrested.

Police have accused protesters of putting children between their operations and the protest site, adding, "The children will be brought to a place of safety."

Police encounter protesters near the trucks parked on Capitol Hill in Ottawa, Feb. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

Police encounter protesters near the trucks parked on Capitol Hill in Ottawa, Feb. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

As of Friday afternoon, Bell said there had been no need to interact with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, but implored parents who have kids at the protest to leave for fear of their safety.

By the afternoon, there were significantly fewer trucks on the streets of downtown. At least three semis that were parked parallel to Parliament Hill had left, with one remaining driver saying the vehicles relocated elsewhere.

Protesters, meanwhile, have set up snow barricades across roads just south of Wellington Street, including one outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office, with hockey sticks poking out the top.

The arrests began Thursday, hours after Bell, who replaced former police chief Peter Sloly this week, warned that action to remove demonstrators was "imminent."

Police and government officials have often referred to the protests as an unlawful "occupation."

"We want to end this unlawful protest peacefully and safely," Bell said.

He has said previously that some of the techniques police are prepared to use "are not what we're used to seeing in Ottawa."

Officers from across Ontario and Quebec, as well as the RCMP, have joined Ottawa police in a bid to end the protests.

Ottawa police also say another effort to flood their 911 and non-emergency reporting lines has occurred. Police reported a similar effort last week.

Police officers on horseback gather near the site of a trucker blockade in Ottawa, Feb. 18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Police officers on horseback gather near the site of a trucker blockade in Ottawa, Feb. 18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld


The latest warnings and arrests come following the federal government's invocation of the Emergencies Act on Monday, the first time it has been used since it became law in 1988.

Under the act, police say anyone coming to Ottawa to join the protests is breaking the law. Powers granted under the act include a ban on public assemblies deemed to be unlawful and the ability to freeze protesters' bank accounts without court orders.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is seeking a judicial review of the government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, arguing the measures are unconstitutional.

Federal ministers held a press conference Friday afternoon to provide an update on the Emergencies Act and the events unfolding in Ottawa.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called it a day of "real sorrow" but also "determination."

"It's painful for me that this is happening in Canada. I think it is painful for a lot of Canadians," she said.

"I think we see our body politic really being violated by an illegal occupation of our capital, by blockades of our essential trade corridors, so that is really sad."

Freeland acknowledged that while removing protests and blockades is a first step, the frustration of some Canadians across the country will persist and that Canada must work to "heal" divides.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said there have been "encouraging" developments in the last 24 hours and thanked law enforcement for taking action.

The House of Commons began debating the government's use of the Emergencies Act on Thursday.

While the powers granted by the act are in effect, the House and Senate must confirm the decision to use the legislation. The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have said they will not support it, while the NDP have signalled they will.

The Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois have said they will not support it, while the NDP have signalled they will.

Although some protesters have called for the ouster of the Liberal government, even offering to work with opposition parties to make that happen, none of the opposition parties has shown any sign they would consider it.

The House was expected to continue debate on the Emergencies Act on Friday. However, a note from House Speaker Anthony Rota says the scheduled sitting has been cancelled due to the police operation by the Hill and other areas of the downtown core.

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Mark Holland confirmed late Friday that the House will resume debate Saturday on the use of the Emergencies Act to respond to the illegal blockades.

"The Speaker and all parties followed advice of security officials to cancel today’s sitting. The safety of MPs and all employees on the Hill is paramount," he tweeted.

"I am looking forward to the historic and fulsome debate that lies ahead. MPs will debate this matter both days on the weekend, and on Monday. The final vote on the motion will be held Monday evening at 8 p.m." 

Police officers enter a blockade protest truck parked in downtown Ottawa, Feb. 18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Police officers enter a blockade protest truck parked in downtown Ottawa, Feb. 18, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston


Elsewhere in the country, authorities are preparing for continued protests in their communities, with protesters in the Maritimes planning more convoys and rallies this weekend.

Toronto police say they will deploy more officers downtown due to the events in Ottawa.

RCMP in Saskatchewan will monitor the province's international border crossings with the United States in response to planned demonstrations this weekend.

Quebec City is preparing for a protest this weekend. Protesters in Winnipeg, meanwhile, have agreed to move further away from the Manitoba legislature.

Protests and blockades at or near border crossings in Windsor, Ont.; Emerson, Man.; Coutts, Alta.; and Surrey, B.C., have ended.

Police made multiple arrests in Windsor and Surrey. Officers also intercepted a suspected convoy heading to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor on Wednesday.

The City of Windsor and others are currently seeking an extension to a court injunction related to the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge.

In the case of Coutts, police seized a cache of weapons and ammunition from a smaller group involved in the larger protest and have charged four individuals with conspiracy to commit murder. Gear seized from some of those arrested had patches displaying a symbol of the Diagolon far-right extremist group.

With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press Top Stories


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