Police step up enforcement to end truckers' protests in Canada

Ottawa, Feb 13 (IANS): Windsor Police tweeted on Saturday that they had started enforcement actions against protesters opposing Covid-19 restrictions who blocked access to the Ambassador Bridge for most of the week, reports Xinhua news agency.

"The Windsor Police & its policing partners have commenced enforcement at and near the Ambassador Bridge. We urge all demonstrators to act lawfully & peacefully. Commuters are still being asked to avoid the areas affected by the demonstrations at this time," the tweet said.

Ontario province, where Ottawa is located, on Friday declared a state of emergency to quell convoy protests, and it is now illegal and punishable to block and impede the movement of goods, people and services along critical infrastructure, including international border crossings, major highways, airports, ports, bridges and railways.

The Ontario Superior Court followed up with an injunction against the protests on Friday night, giving participants until 7 p.m. to clear out.

That deadline was largely ignored. Police were maintaining a heavy presence at the entrance to the bridge, a key trade border crossing between Canada and the US where protesters brought traffic to a standstill, local media reported.

In downtown Ottawa, police said over 4,000 demonstrators were present throughout the day.

In a statement released on Saturday evening, police announced the establishment of an enhanced, Integrated Command Centre (ICC) in response to a significant influx of demonstrators into the Ottawa area and an escalation of the current occupation.

"We expect that the ICC will result in a significantly enhanced ability of our police service to respond to the current situation in our city. The ICC will allow us to make the most effective use of the additional resources our policing partners have provided to us," the statement said.

On Saturday afternoon, Ottawa Police had released another statement, saying that they deployed all available officers on Friday night as protesters in the city "exhibited aggressive behaviour," including overwhelming officers and subverting law enforcement efforts.

The police said 28 arrests have been made while 140 criminal investigations are underway, with officers collecting various information to assist prosecuting offenders.

Another 2,600 tickets have been issued by bylaw officers in relation to what they call an "illegal occupation", according to the statement.

Thousands of Canadian truckers and their supporters descended on Ottawa in late January to oppose the Canadian government's vaccine requirement for truckers crossing the border into the US, which has the same policy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday the protesters need to understand "it's time to go home". However, the convoy protests and demonstrations continue nationwide.

In Toronto, the largest city in Canada, more than 1,000 people gathered at Queen's Park near the Ontario legislature on Saturday to protest vaccine mandates and other Covid-19 public health restrictions.

Protesters were seen holding Canadian flags and signs reading "freedom".

Meanwhile in British Columbia, hundreds of protesters gathered at the intersection outside the Canada-US border crossing in Surrey to demonstrate against Covid-19-related health measures and to support the truckers' "Freedom Convoy" protests.



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Title: Police step up enforcement to end truckers' protests in Canada

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