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Police descend on Ottawa protest with horses, riot gear as at least 100 are arrested

100 arrested so far at protest

UPDATE 8 p.m.

The Ottawa Police issued a statement on social media saying there have been no injuries or deaths in their enforcement actions Friday.

“Safety is our priority,” the police service tweeted.

The department was ostensibly making the statement in response to video (embedded in story below) showing multiple people being knocked to the ground by officers on horseback. Unverified claims were made on social media regarding the condition of a senior who was hit by the horse.

Police say a protester threw a bicycle at the feet of a horse and was arrested, although video of that has yet to surface.

Government House leader Mark Holland says the House of Commons will resume debate Saturday on the use of the Emergencies Act to respond to the illegal blockades.

This morning the Speaker and House leaders from all parties agreed to cancel today's (Friday's) sitting on the advice of parliamentary security.

Holland says on Twitter that the safety of MPs and all employees on Parliament Hill is paramount.

The House began debating the government's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act on Thursday.

Earlier, Holland said the pause would not affect the outcome and MPs who want to speak will do so.

He said MPs will vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion.


UPDATE 6:30 p.m.

Police in Ottawa are responding to videos circulating on social media of mounted officers trampling protesters on the front line.

The video shows multiple people being knocked to the ground when cavalry officers arrived at the line between on-foot officers and protesters.

“We hear your concern for people on the ground after the horses dispersed a crowd. Anyone who fell got up and walked away. We're unaware of any injuries. A bicycle was thrown at the horse further down the line and caused the horse to trip. The horse was uninjured,” Ottawa police said in a tweet.

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier posted a video of the incident to social media, calling the police “scum.”

Police have been methodically, and slowly, clearing the streets of Ottawa of the blockade and protests for the past day.

More than 100 people have been arrested so far, while over 20 vehicles have been towed in the push to end the three-week occupation of the capital.

Chris Barber, a protest organizer arrested yesterday, has been released on bail on the conditions he leaves Ontario by Wednesday and not publicly endorse the convoy or have any contact with the other major protest organizers.

Tamara Lich, another protest organizer who was arrested yesterday, is to appear in Ottawa court tomorrow morning for her bail hearing.


UPDATE 6 p.m.

Police officers descended on anti-government protesters in Ottawa on Friday, arresting at least 100 people and towing more than 20 vehicles in a push to end a three-week occupation that has reverberated across Canada and around the world.

Dozens of officers who had gathered in the bitterly cold downtown core following an overnight snowstorm started to move mid-morning under a bright sun, pushing the protesters back and making arrests along the way.

Supported by officers on horseback and on rooftops, lines of police slowly advanced on an intersection just east of Parliament Hill, isolating one group of protesters.

Police blasted warnings over a loudspeaker before officers advanced intermittently, forcing back dozens of demonstrators, some of whom linked arms or laid down in resistance while others hurled insults or tried to flee.

Officers in military green, some with gas masks and what appeared to be tear-gas guns, converged on the protesters from another direction in an apparent pincer movement before a third group of police boxed them in.

As officers closed on that group, other protesters watched from their main camp further west on Wellington Street near the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill, urging their embattled comrades to “hold the line” and hurling their own invective.

By evening, the situation grew more heated. A group of mounted police suddenly charged a large group of protesters facing police lines near the Senate in an apparent effort to move the crowd up toward Wellington Street. Many in the shocked crowd ran, some yelling, "You are trampling us!"

Ottawa police said on Twitter that protesters had continued "assaultive behaviour" with the police line and to prevent an escalation or further injury, mounted officers were sent in to create a safe distance between officers and protesters.

As this was happening, police said, a bicycle was thrown at the feet of one of the horses in an attempt to injure it. One person was arrested for allegedly intentionally harming a police service animal.

"Protesters are assaulting officers, have attempted to remove officers' weapons. All means of de-escalation have been used to move forward in our goal of returning Ottawa to its normalcy," the police service tweeted.

The police action, which included the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, local officers and units from other cities, followed an initial round of arrests Thursday against key organizers.

It also came after repeated warnings and signals in the past two days that police were preparing for a crackdown following weeks of accommodating the demonstration, which had left many Ottawa residents angry, frazzled and critical of the city’s police force.

Ottawa police interim chief Steve Bell told a news conference Friday that clearing the area will take time, but the operation is "deliberate and methodical" and police are in control on the ground.

Those arrested have been charged with various offences including mischief, he said, adding police are still urging demonstrators to leave peacefully.

He said there has been no need to interact with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, but it still "shocks and surprises" him that children are being put in harm's way in the middle of a demonstration where a police operation was unfolding.

"We will continue to look after their safety and security. But we implore all the parents who have kids in there — get kids out of there," Bell said. "They do not need to be in the middle of this. It is not a safe place for them."

Ottawa police have accused some protesters of putting children between themselves and advancing officers. The allegation was not independently verified.

As police pushed back the protesters, tow trucks moved in to remove some of the dozens of big rigs and other vehicles that have been used to essentially blockade the streets around Parliament Hill since late last month.

Police were also staffing dozens of checkpoints around the downtown core designed to prevent any new protesters from arriving to reinforce those inside the perimeter.

Rows of officers moved in on truckers who were parked at a major intersection near the Parliament buildings, where those inside such as Dale Sherstobitoff were ordered out of their cabs and onto the street.

"I'm embarrassed of our prime minister. I'm embarrassed of these cops," she said. "This shouldn't be happening in Canada."


UPDATE 3:30 p.m.

Ottawa police say protesters are assaulting officers and have attempted to remove officers' weapons.

The force also says a bicycle was thrown at the feet of a horse in an attempt to injure it.

One person was arrested for intentionally harming a police service animal.

The police department says there have now been 100 arrests of protesters who have refused to leave.

"Officers have successfully moved protesters past the intersection of Mackenzie Avenue on Rideau Street," police said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is telling Justin Trudeau the prime minister's use of powers under the Emergencies Act have potential to do irreparable harm to Canadians and democratic society.

In a letter dated Thursday, Kenney says invoking the law is extraordinarily heavy-handed and beyond democratic norms. Early this week the federal government made use of the Emergencies Act for the first time to allow for extra powers to quell blockades by anti-government protesters, including a weeks-long occupation of downtown Ottawa.


UPDATE 1 p.m.

Ottawa police say they have arrested 70 people at an anti-government protest that has choked the national capital for nearly four weeks.

Police began enforcing against the protest on Thursday night and continued throughout the day today while urging demonstrators to leave.

Interim chief Steve Bell says those arrested have been charged with various offences including mischief.


UPDATE 12:20 p.m.

Police officers descended on anti-government protesters in Ottawa on Friday, arresting key leaders and towing vehicles in a push to end a three-week occupation that has reverberated across Canada and around the world.

Dozens of officers who had gathered in the bitterly cold downtown core following an overnight snowstorm started to move mid-morning under a bright sun, pushing the protesters back and making arrests along the way.

Supported by officers on horseback and on rooftops, lines of police slowly advanced on an intersection just east of Parliament Hill, isolating one group of protesters.

Police blasted warnings over a loudspeaker before officers advanced at intermittently, forcing back dozens of demonstrators, some of whom linked arms or laid down in resistance while others hurled insults or tried to flee.

Officers in military green, some with gas masks and what appeared to be tear-gas guns, converged on the protesters from another direction in an apparent pincer movement before a third group of police boxed them in.

As officers closed on that group, other protesters watched from their main camp further west on Wellington Street near the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill, urging their embattled comrades to “hold the line” and hurling their own invective.

The police action, which included the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, local officers and units from other cities, followed an initial round of arrests on Thursday against key organizers.

It also came after repeated warnings and signals in the past two days that police were preparing for a crackdown following weeks of accommodating the demonstration, which had left many Ottawa residents angry, frazzled and critical of the city’s police force.

As of Friday afternoon, Ottawa police reported 21 arrests and 21 vehicles towed along with several roads cleared

As police pushed back the protesters, tow trucks moved in to remove some of the dozens of big rigs and other vehicles that have been used to essentially blockade the streets around Parliament Hill since late last month.

Police were also staffing dozens of checkpoints around the downtown core designed to prevent any new protesters from arriving to reinforce those inside the perimeter.

While some protesters on the outer edges of the downtown protest were starting to pack their bags and rolling suitcases into the back of their pickups ahead of leaving, others said they were unperturbed by the threat of arrest and planned to stay.

On Kent Street, near the western edge of the core, two protesters said they had no plans to leave. One, who identified himself only as Dave, said he expected thousands of people to pour back into downtown Ottawa this weekend.

Asked about the police warnings, Dave said it was a little nerve-racking, but insisted the protesters were peaceful people.

Others continued to gather in the street in front of Parliament Hill, delivering speeches from a makeshift stage.


UPDATE 11:50 a.m.

Ottawa police say 21 people have been arrested and 21 vehicles have been towed as the force steps up enforcement against anti-government protesters who have been camped outside Parliament Hill.

The force made the announcement after police clad in riot gear and touting gas masks and tear-gas guns converged on a large crowd of protesters to contain them near the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa.


UPDATE 11:15 a.m.

Police in military green carrying riot gear, including gas masks and tear-gas guns, are converging on a large crowd of protesters to contain them near the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa.

Lines of dozens of police from the Durham region of Ontario are also advancing toward the crowd of protesters, to taunts of "shame," "traitor" and "choose your side."

Other protesters are hollering at police, "you are working for a dictator," "we are peaceful demonstrators," and "this is illegal."

Some protesters are fleeing behind their lines of trucks as the police advance, but a large crowd, waving Canadian, Quebec and Métis flags, or carrying "freedom" placards, has been hemmed in by lines of police, including officers on horses with face shields and an armoured vehicle.

A few arrests, including of a protester dragged along the ground from the crowd, are taking place but the tense standoff has continued for hours.

Police are warning protesters to move back as their lines creep forward, telling them they have an escape route along Sussex Drive.

Police say they have been told to clear the area, warning protesters they will be arrested if they stay.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the progress made to clear border blockades is not set in stone, but efforts to set up new blockades have been thwarted by law enforcement.

Mendicino tells a news conference he was very alarmed to hear of a report that Windsor police arrested a man threatening the life of the city's mayor.

In Ottawa, Mendicino says police officers from as far away as Vancouver have joined the operation to clear protests and arrests are being made.

He says Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell has cited his government's invocation of the Emergencies Act as helping his force take action against the protest.


UPDATE 10:20 a.m.

One of the main convoy protest organizers, Pat King, has been arrested.

King posted a video of himself being arrested on Facebook Live.

In the video, an officer can be seen approaching his vehicle and informing him he's under arrest for counselling to commit mischief, counselling to obstruct police and counselling to disobey a court order.

The officer asks him to step out of the vehicle and King says he'd like to speak to his lawyer.

The officer says he'd like to make sure everything is safe and King responds that his hands are free and empty and he's always been safe.

King then tells the camera calmly that officers "cornered" him and he's being arrested, before the video ends.

Ontario’s premier is again encouraging demonstrators to leave downtown Ottawa now that arrests are being made.

Doug Ford says there are indications that police are making progress on clearing the weeks-long occupation and says law enforcement has his full support.

Ford also denied that the situation could have been resolved sooner if his government had taken emergency measures earlier than a week ago.

He says the province sent resources immediately after the protest began, and says progress is being made now because all three levels of government are responding.


UPDATE: 9:40 a.m.

Pat King, one of the main protest organizers, is asking truck drivers to retreat from downtown Ottawa to a truck stop.

His comments come as officers have moved in and started arresting more people.

In a new Facebook Live video, King says he wants truck drivers to regroup rather than risk losing their assets.

He still says people who want to go to Parliament Hill on foot should do so.

Ottawa police, meanwhile, are accusing some protesters of using children as a shield against advancing officers.

The police say without providing detail that the children will be brought to "a place of safety."

The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa has said it is working closely alongside police to help ensure the safety and well-being of children in downtown Ottawa.

Police are also playing a recorded message telling protesters: “You must leave, you will be arrested.”

Trucks blared their horns as police on the eastern edge of downtown Ottawa moved in on the crowd of protesters, supported by an armoured truck and under the watch of rooftop officers.

The scene among protesters gathered around the Rideau Centre and adjacent Westin Hotel is one of nervousness amid fears of being boxed in by advancing officers, who have been seen pulling at least one demonstrator through their lines and handcuffing them.

Police have also brought out horses as part of their effort to clear the protesters from the area, which they have occupied for the past three weeks.

Protest organizer Benjamin Dichter has taken to Twitter saying one of the demonstrators was forcibly removed from his truck, and that it is time for protesters to leave.

Some protesters on the outer edges of the protest packed their bags and rolled suitcases into the back of their pickups, preparing to leave.

But others, blocked by rows of semis, say they are unable to get out if they wish to, and have no plans to do so anyway.


UPDATE: 9:10 a.m.

Ottawa police say they are aware of a concerted effort to flood 911 and their non-emergency policing reporting line.

Police say in a tweet that this endangers lives and is completely unacceptable — and a crime.

Police say they are tracking calls and will charge anyone who is deliberately interfering with emergencies.

Police also say that if protesters choose to leave the area but cannot move their vehicles, they will be towed to a location where protesters can pick them up.

Meanwhile, Pat King, a leading figure among the protesters, is asking demonstrators to walk to Parliament Hill as police are arresting more people in an effort to clear the downtown core.

In a Facebook live this morning, King also asks for trucks to jackknife in front of tow trucks to prevent them from moving vehicles.

He threatened to find out which companies drivers belong to and says the tow truck drivers involved are committing “career suicide.”

King told protesters trying to get into the downtown precinct to take a cab or an Uber and tell police they are going to work or a hotel.


ORIGINAL: 6:30 a.m.

Ottawa police say officers have begun making more arrests of anti-vaccine mandate protesters who have occupied the city's downtown core for weeks.

Police say on Twitter there is a large police presence on Nicholas Street downtown and protesters are being advised to leave immediately.

They say some are surrendering and being arrested.

"We ask protesters to remain peaceful and lawful," police say.

The action follows several arrests made Thursday night including of key organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.

Police say Barber, 46, has been charged with counselling to commit mischief, counselling to disobey a court order and counselling to obstruct police.

Lich, 49, has been charged with counselling to commit mischief.

She and Barber are scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

The House of Commons will not sit Friday to debate emergency measures the government has brought in to deal with the protest just outside its doors.

A note from Speaker Anthony Rota says the sitting is cancelled because of the police operation set to take place by Parliament Hill and other locations around Ottawa's downtown core.

The note goes on to say that anyone not in the parliamentary precinct should stay away from the core until further notice.

It adds that anyone already in the precinct should remain in buildings and await further instructions from parliamentary security.

MPs were set for another daylong debate of the government's emergency orders that took effect earlier this week, but require confirmation by the House of Commons and Senate.

The new powers include freezing bank accounts of protest participants and barring people from assembling in specific places or joining protests that threaten trade, critical infrastructure, individuals or property.

It is also now illegal to bring children to within 500 metres of the blockades or provide supplies or property to participants.

The measures are facing a legal challenge from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, but in the House of Commons, the measures are expected to pass with the Liberals and NDP supporting the plan and the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois opposing it.

Government House leader Mark Holland says in a statement that parties are hoping the House can reopen Saturday to continue debate. Holland goes on to say that a final vote on the measures will happen early next week.

NDP House leader Peter Julian, in a tweet, says that he and his counterparts from other parties agreed around 4:30 a.m. EST to cancel the sitting scheduled to start at 7 a.m. EST.

He adds that it is everyone's hope that the convoy protesters leave peacefully in the coming hours.

The Senate was also expected to begin debate Friday but issued a notice saying it will remain adjourned until Monday at 2 p.m.

Some denizens of the downtown encampment appear alert to the possibility of more police action Friday, while others seem unconcerned.

Demonstrators have refused to budge despite police warnings to pack up and pull out now or risk arrest and other tough sanctions.

Lyndsay Kruisselbrink says the feeling among protesters is "very calm."

"Everybody's happy, lots of love," she says. "I love the snow. This is my idea of fun."

She says this is her third trip to the protest on Parliament Hill and the crowd has at least doubled in size from last week. She says she plans to stay until Monday.

"You have to be here to know the feeling. You just don't want to leave. You just love the cause and all the people. It's like your family."

Trucks are idling on the street in front of Parliament Hill as a bitter winter storm pummelled the national capital, covering vehicles in snow and ice.

Fires are also going under tents set up near the vehicles as protesters huddle to stay warm.

Police have established a perimeter with about 100 checkpoints covering Ottawa's downtown to keep out anyone intent on joining the protest this weekend.

Police are stopping any vehicle looking to get near the hardened area around the core, an area that spans roughly four square kilometres, shining flashlights and asking for drivers to explain why they are heading downtown.



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