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NewsTop StoriesTrucking

Ottawa police arrest Freedom Convoy protesters in hopes of ending 3-week blockade

Protest area also sealed off by more than 100 officers

After arresting at least two organizers of Freedom Convoy protests on Thursday, police in Ottawa, Ontario, stepped up their arrests on Friday in hopes of breaking up the three-weeklong disruption in the Canadian capital.

Early reports indicated that some protesters surrendered peacefully and were taken into custody, while others were taken away in handcuffs.

Police also sealed off parts of the downtown area that had been snarled by demonstrations and blockades to protest COVID vaccine mandates. One report indicated that dozens of police cars and more than 100 officers arrived early Friday morning in Ottawa to accelerate the process.

Ottawa police issued warnings Friday via its social media channels that demonstrators must leave the area. “You must cease further unlawful activity and immediately remove your vehicle and/or property from all unlawful protest sites. Anyone within the unlawful protest site may be arrested,” read one tweet.

Protest leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber were arrested Thursday night. Each was charged with counseling to commit mischief, while Barber was also charged with disobeying a court order and obstructing police.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Lich was one of the organizers of the GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $10 million for the demonstration before it was frozen. She was involved with the Canadian Yellow Vest and United We Roll protests in 2019.

Asked earlier on Thursday what her response would be if she was arrested, Lich replied: “Hold the line.”

Barber is a senior convoy leader. He issued a statement two weeks ago concerning the protests.

“Our message to the citizens of Ottawa is one of empathy,” he wrote. “We understand your frustration and genuinely wish there was another way for us to get our message across, but the responsibility for your inconvenience lies squarely on the shoulders of politicians who have [preferred] to vilify and call us names rather than engage in respectful, serious dialogue.”

Ontario truck driver Jacobo Peters, told CBC News that while he wouldn’t fight an arrest, police would need to smash his cab window to remove him from his truck.

“Who knows, I might go home with some broken bones or go to jail with some broken bones depending on how much force they use,” Peters told the news organization. “We just want our freedoms back, and we’ve been peaceful.”

This is a developing story.

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