Police say they’re restricting access to Ottawa’s core as occupation nears 4th weekend

0

The latest on Day 21 of the protest:

Police are matching written warnings to protesters with potential signs of action around the occupation of downtown Ottawa streets Thursday.

Fences were being set up that morning in front of government buildings including Parliament Hill and the Senate. Police vehicles were seen gathering at the EY Centre near the international airport to the south.

The response now includes an unspecified number of Quebec provincial police. According to Radio-Canada sources, members of the Sûreté du Québec’s tactical intervention squad will work under the command of the Ontario Provincial Police.

People set up fences in front of the temporary home of the Senate in Ottawa Feb. 17, 2022. The city is under a winter storm warning, with morning rain yielding to evening snow. ( Sebastien St-Francois/Radio-Canada)

The city’s bylaw department also explained what would happen with animals if “enforcement actions” separate people from their pets.

Alongside any criminal repercussions, the class-action lawsuit launched by Ottawa residents against protesters in the city’s downtown now includes an expanded area that loops in those living in the Sandy Hill and ByWard Market areas.

These latest warnings — posted online and handed out as flyers — gave protesters an updated list of rules that may apply to the occupation of some downtown streets and potential penalties under expanded federal and provincial powers.

A group of police hand out notices at a supply camp on Coventry Road in Ottawa for the people occupying downtown streets Feb. 17, 2022. (Raphael Tremblay/Radio-Canada)

Speaking to city council on Wednesday, interim police Chief Steve Bell said police now have the resources and a plan to safely end the protest.

He would not share a timeline for that plan for operational reasons, but said police are prepared for several levels of “lawful” escalation, including “techniques [that] are not what we’re used to seeing Ottawa.” 

Police increased their presence in downtown Ottawa on Feb. 17, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

After the first of the two warnings, which directly told protesters that what they were doing no longer fell under a peaceful protest, spokespeople for the organizers said they needed more people to come to the core so police would be outnumbered.

Wednesday also brought comments from federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino that several of the individuals involved in the blockade at the border crossing in Coutts, Alta., have “strong ties to a far-right extreme organization with leaders who are in Ottawa.”

School safety

Meanwhile, Ottawa’s English public school board says police have informed its officials that schools are safe and will be ready to act if that changes.

We are aware of increased police presence downtown. We have reached out to Ottawa Police who have confirmed schools are safe. We will maintain contact with police through the day. In the event of any changes to the current situation, we will activate our safe schools procedures.

—@OCDSB

The University of Ottawa has moved in-person classes online until Monday and is again increasing security on campus because of “ongoing developments near Parliament Hill,” it said on its website early Wednesday evening.

Northern parts of the campus border some of the roads closed by the protest and the city maintains that people should avoid non-essential travel downtown.

More leadership changes

Following Tuesday’s resignation of police chief Peter Sloly, there were more leadership changes when Ottawa city council voted to overhaul its police services board Wednesday during a long and unusually emotional meeting.

It included the ouster of chair Coun. Diane Deans and the resignation of some board members in protest.

The police services board is set to meet Thursday at 1 p.m. ET to elect a new chair.

WATCH | A timeline of key events in Ottawa’s convoy crisis:

From then to now: A timeline of the convoy protest in Ottawa

Starting in late January, thousands of protesters have occupied Ottawa’s downtown core, frustrating residents and politicians, and resisting all efforts from law enforcement to get them to leave. Here’s how the situation has played out so far. 6:17

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.