Canadian police worked Saturday to return to normal life in the capital after trucks and demonstrators occupied downtown Ottawa for more than three weeks protesting against restrictions imposed on the outbreak of the pandemic.
Four of the main organizers have already been arrested and more than 100 protesters arrested as hundreds of officers, including some on horseback, formed lines and slowly pushed them away from their cars.
There were many moments of tension on Friday. Some protesters were pulled from their cars, while others who resisted the police advance were thrown to the ground with their hands tied behind their backs.
Police said the protesters showed “hostile behaviour”, and once brought in policemen on horseback “to create space,” according to the statement.
Protesters initially wanted to end cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, but the blockade has gradually morphed into an anti-government and anti-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstration.
“Our demands are not ridiculous. We want to cancel mandates and shutdowns,” said Gord of Manitoba, a truck driver who said he can no longer work due to cross-border vaccine mandates. On Friday, he vowed to remain parked in front of parliament and said he was awaiting arrest.
On Monday, Trudeau invoked emergency powers to give his government broader powers to halt protests. Lawmakers were due to discuss the temporary powers on Friday, but the House of Commons suspended its session citing police activity.
After crowds of protesters swelled the previous three weekends, police set up 100 roadblocks around the downtown core on Friday to prevent people from arriving and food and fuel to be denied entry. Police said they towed 21 vehicles on Friday.
When the police cleared the protesters from the streets, at least a dozen tow trucks came to pick up trucks and other protest vehicles that were still parked downtown.