Police start making arrests in operation to end occupation in Ottawa

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Police have begun to make arrests in Ottawa’s downtown core as the operation to end the three-week occupation ramps up Friday morning, while two key convoy organizers are set to appear in court.

At 8:10 a.m. ET, Ottawa police announced a large police presence on Nicholas Street in the city’s core. According to police, some protesters were surrendering and being arrested.

There is a large police presence on Nicholas Street, protesters are being advised to leave immediately. Some protesters are surrendering and are being arrested. We ask protesters to remain peaceful and lawful.

—@OttawaPolice

Downtown residents reported seeing more police officers in the area and for police, protesters and much of the public, Friday sets up to be a day of tension and confrontation.

About 15 police vans were seen parked at the intersection of Rideau and Nicholas streets around 8:30 a.m. delivering dozens of officers to the downtown streets. At the same time, a number of protesters seemed to be settling in for the day with small tents and fires to stay warm.

Building a snow barrier in front of Parliament <a href=”https://t.co/SJuaizXlVh”>pic.twitter.com/SJuaizXlVh</a>

&mdash;@iamSas

The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa says it is working with police to keep children in the downtown core safe and, as of 9:15 a.m., confirmed no children had been transferred to its care.

On Thursday night, police closed more streets and restricted traffic in an effort to keep more protesters from entering the downtown core. Those closures choked off-ramps leading from Highway 417 into the city’s downtown with exits closed from St. Laurent Boulevard to Parkdale Avenue.

Police also established some 100 checkpoints in the hours following a warning from interim police Chief Steve Bell that “action is imminent.”

Police have set up a hardened perimeter (shown in red) around downtown Ottawa, including around 100 checkpoints. (CBC)

Emergencies Act debate suspended

A winter storm warning and significant overnight snowfall also created hazardous winter conditions Friday morning, further adding complications and delays to travel.

Ottawa’s light rail service was disrupted due to the downtown lockdown, too, and the Parliament Hill station remains closed.

The House of Commons cancelled its Friday sitting due to expected police action on Wellington Street and other parts of downtown, temporarily suspending the debate on the use of the Emergencies Act. 

According to the Speaker’s office, all parties agreed to cancel Friday’s sittings on the advice of parliamentary security. Parliamentarians remain hopeful they will be able resume debate on Saturday. 

Police in Ottawa started making arrests on Friday as police action to end the occupation by protesters got underway. (CBC)

2 key convoy organizers appear in court Friday

Before the larger set of arrests began, police arrested Chris Barber and Tamara Lich on Thursday.

Those two have been key organizers of the protest convoy that began as a demonstration against vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions.

According to police, Barber, 46, from Swift Current, Sask., is expected to appear in court on Friday to face charges of counselling to commit mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order, and counselling to obstruct police. 

Lich, 49, of Medicine Hat, Alta was charged with counselling to commit the offence of mischief and she is also scheduled to appear in court Friday.

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