Ottawa mayor Jim Watson has declared a state of emergency in the city over ongoing trucker protests.
In a news release Sunday, the city said the decision, “reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations.”
It also “highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” and will give the city more flexibility to procure supplies, the release added.
Frustration in the nation’s capital has been mounting since what some are calling an occupation of the downtown core began over a week ago, with trucks blocking streets and horns blaring throughout the night.
“Overnight, demonstrators exhibited extremely disruptive and unlawful behaviour, which presented risks to public safety and unacceptable distress for Ottawa residents,” read a news release on the Ottawa Police website.
“We continue to advise demonstrators not to enter Ottawa, and to go home.”
Bylaw and police have issued tickets for things ranging from excessive noise, to fireworks, and stunt driving, according to the release.
Several large vehicles were towed including one stolen vehicle, the release added. Police there have responded to over 650 calls and almost a hundred criminal investigations have been opened.
A local hate crime hotline has also received over 200 calls.
What began as a trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 public health restrictions and vaccine mandates reached several Canadian cities, Saturday, including Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, and Vancouver, but also faced some of its strongest resistance yet.
Ontario’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones congratulated the city of Toronto and Toronto police for “ensuring” the Saturday demonstration was safe, in an emailed statement, Sunday.
“I understand the Ottawa Police Service continues to express concerns about their ability to manage the ongoing occupation in their city,” she added.
“Politicians at all levels cannot direct the police. To be clear: police services, including the Ottawa Police Service, have full discretion and extensive existing legislative authority under the Criminal Code to respond to and manage demonstrations and take enforcement action, as appropriate, against any individuals committing crimes in their jurisdiction.”
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More than 1500 Ontario Provincial Police officers, as well as officers from other municipal police services and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are on the ground in Ottawa, she said.
“While we cannot direct the police, we have provided the city of Ottawa everything they have asked for and will continue to provide whatever support they request,” added Premier Doug Ford in a tweet.
A GoFundMe campaign supporting the convoy was shut down by the site, Friday, after reports of alleged harassment, but fundraising has now shifted to a Christian platform hosted by GiveSendGo. Reporters spotted Nazi swastikas and Confederate flags last weekend in the Ottawa crowd, and police warned about possible weapons at the demonstrations there, arresting one man who allegedly tried to bring a gun.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, police announced that a 34-year-old man was arrested Saturday at Bedford Road and Bloor Street West for allegedly throwing dog poop at another person, and charged with assault with a weapon. Constable David Hopkinson of Toronto Police Corporate Communications said in an email that the “accused was not part of the demonstration” as far as he knows.
“He was arrested at a protest but I’m not sure if that protest is part of the trucker protest,” said Hopkinson, who declined to give further details as the matter will be going to court.
Hundreds of unmasked supporters wrapped in Canadian flags, chanting “freedom” and holding anti-media and anti-Trudeau signs gathered at Queen’s Park Saturday afternoon and jammed the intersection at Bloor Street West and Avenue Road, west to Bedford Road, and east to Yonge Street., with a few trucks and several cars and SUVs.
Horns blared for hours. Despite frigid temperatures dropping below -8 C, one man danced in only a thong and a Canadian flag atop a truck with a flag that read “Treason Trudeau.”
But things wound down by the evening.
Toronto’s Chief of Police James Ramer tweeted shortly after 9 p.m. the protesters and vehicles had “been safely moved out” and they “appreciated the co-operation” as they “opened and returned the intersection for safe use by residents and businesses.”
Toronto police also arrested a 22-year-old man on Saturday for assault with a weapon, public mischief and allegedly setting off a smoke bomb.
University Ave between College Street and Queen Street and College Street from University Avenue to Yonge Street were shut down ahead of time by police to protect access to nearby hospitals.
Health care workers and their supporters gathered on hospital row with signs like “petulant toddlers go home.”
On Sunday evening in Toronto the city’s streets were quiet with no known protests.
“The Toronto Police Service will be working overnight to re-open road closures. We will maintain a visible police presence in the downtown core and will respond as necessary to keep the city safe,” the Toronto Police said in a tweet.
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