Ottawa Police say a new “Integrated Command Center” with the RCMP and the OPP will allow them to better respond to the occupation that has taken over the streets of downtown Ottawa for a third weekend.
“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,” Ottawa Police said Saturday night.
“The ICC will allow us to make the most effective use of the additional resources made available to us by our policing partners.”
On Saturday, around 4,000 protesters again rallied on Parliament Hill and the streets of the Parliamentary District, demanding an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures.
A group of people removed the security fences around the National War Memorial and residents reported hearing car horns and loud music throughout the day. A huge music stage was set up in front of Parliament Hill, while a hot tub and bouncy castle were spotted on Wellington Street. CTV News Ottawa’s Graham Richardson reported Saturday night that a DJ was allowed to drive his truck back into the Rideau and Sussex Drive area.
Police said Saturday that a convoy of 300 vehicles and a 20-kilometer convoy of cars from Quebec disrupted traffic in the National Capital Region.
“Security concerns – arising from aggressive, illegal behavior by many protesters – limited police enforcement capabilities,” Ottawa Police said.
Earlier in the day, police said they were awaiting the arrival of reinforcements to implement their “plan to end this illegal occupation”.
“Overnight, protesters engaged in aggressive behavior towards law enforcement, including refusing to follow directions, overpowering officers and otherwise undermining enforcement efforts,” police said in a statement.
“We have a plan to end this illegal occupation and are awaiting the necessary reinforcements to do so.”
Several downtown businesses remain closed due to the protest, including the Rideau Centre. The Farm Boy on Metcalfe Street closed early Saturday afternoon as the demonstration grew.
Two city councilors are calling on police and governments to do more to end the 16-day demonstration that has forced streets and shops in the core downtown area to be closed.
Somerset County. Catherine McKenney is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mayor Jim Watson to take immediate action.
“Prime Minister: The federal government must immediately provide the requested 1800 resources. They told the city to ask for it. We did. You have to deliver. Take control of your capital,” McKenney said wrote on Twitter.
“Mayor Watson: The city of Ottawa is paralyzed and unable to contain and end the occupation. Put in place a leader who will take whatever action is necessary to end this. Take control of your city.”
count. Jeff Leiper tells Ottawa police to ‘close the carnival’
“The siege zone should be more welcoming than less welcoming to occupiers. @OttawaPolice as long as they’re holed up downtown the lawlessness is felt throughout the city and no one is safe,” Leiper said on Twitter.
Ottawa Police say 140 criminal investigations are ongoing into the demonstration. As of 10:30 a.m. Saturday, police had made 26 arrests, while police and Bylaw Service officers had issued 2,600 speeding tickets.
Police also say they are working with the Ontario Department of Transportation on a trucking violation initiative that has so far resulted in three vehicles being grounded and 10 charges over issues including movement violations, document violations, missed inspections and violations of the daily Protocol were collected.
Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency and said he will give authorities more tools to stop the “illegal occupation of Ottawa”. Emergency provincial measures went into effect on Saturday morning, according to the prime minister’s office.
“Enforcement of new emergency measures will begin after their formal implementation by the province,” police said on Saturday.
Earlier this week, the city sent a request to the federal and Ontario governments for an additional 1,700 police officers and 100 civilians to assist the Ottawa Police Department in ending the demonstration.
The City of Ottawa will also seek an injunction to address the “blatant” bylaw violations in the so-called “red zone” on Wellington Street and downtown Ottawa.
MARCH OF COMMUNITY SOLIDARITY
Four kilometers from Parliament Hill, thousands of people took part in a Community Solidarity March to express their opposition to the Freedom Convoy demonstration.
Signs included “Make Ottawa Boring Again” and “Ottawa Strong, Occupiers Out.”
“It’s time to go home. I want my city back, I want my peace,” said Erin Pallard.
Pallard says they are going to support workers who have lost income due to the convoy occupying the core of downtown.
“Workers can’t go downtown and people are being threatened. The convoy is said to be about freedom.”
count. Shawn Menard said on Twitter that Ottawa residents at the march “expressed displeasure at the way the crisis was being handled, tearing down the argument that this convoy is about ‘freedom,’ based on the way they are treated our residents, our schools and workers”.
Horizon Ottawa said on Twitter: “This is what community looks like! This is what a peaceful working class rally looks like.”
After the Lansdowne meeting, the Community Solidarity March walked down Bank Street.
“I think it’s really important to stand up against this kind of hate that’s coming into our city,” said one person who attended the demonstration.
As the group marched through the streets, they shouted, “Who is the church? Our community! who is the street Our street.”
“FEAR AND INTimidation,” SAY DEMONSTRATORS
As word spread of fines of up to $100,000 for blocking critical roads under Ontario’s state of emergency, protesters said they had no plans to leave the country.
A man sits in a hammock outside the West Block on Parliament Hill on day 15 of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions that has evolved into a broader anti-government protest on Friday February 11, 2022 in Ottawa. (Justin Tang / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
“These fear and intimidation tactics won’t work, we’re here for the long haul,” Daniel said. “They have to fine us and put us all in jail for going nowhere.”
Steve has been with the demonstration since day 1.
“Why punish people with a ridiculous fine when you can simply revoke the mandates.”
REGULATION TO STOP NOISE, IDLE
City of Ottawa is asking the courts for an injunction to stop the noise, idleness and fireworks at the demonstration zone.
On Friday the City Legal Counsel Appeared in the Ontario Supreme Court to seek an injunction to address the “evidence of flagrant and repeated violations” emerging from the ongoing protests. Local residents have complained of horns, idling, fireworks and other problems during the 16-day demonstration.
“This action is an attempt to stem the observed widespread disregard by many of those involved in the demonstration for the rule of law and local government bylaws, which were put in place to promote the health, safety and well-being of residents and visitors,” said City’s attorney David White said.
The council will get more details on the potential injunction on Monday.
Ottawa Police are warning there will be sporadic closures of inter-provincial highway exits, roads and bridges this weekend due to the demonstration in Ottawa.
Lane closures will be in place on the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge until 6am Monday.
Alexandra Bridge is closed to vehicle traffic all weekend.
The Portage Bridge is closed except southbound lanes are open to essential workers.
RA CENTER WILL BE CLOSED THIS WEEKEND
The RA Center is closed on Saturdays and Sundays due to the ongoing demonstrations in Ottawa.
“We learned through the media and social media posts that the RA was identified as an unauthorized base for the trucker convoy (dubbed the blue-collar convoy),” the RA Center said in a statement on its website.
“This unauthorized activity has prompted us to take the extraordinary measure of closing and securing the RA center and property on Saturday February 12th and Sunday February 13th.”
Regular RA programs, activities and services will resume Monday.
The parking lots are cordoned off with cement barriers.
With files from Natalie Van Rooy of CTV News Ottawa