May 24, 2022

Freedom Convoy truckers warned by Ottawa police to leave or risk arrest

For nearly two weeks, the Canadian capital of Ottawa has been the scene of a massive protest staged by truckers and others demanding an end to the nation’s COVID-19 mandates, and those Freedom Convoy demonstrators have now received word from that the city’s police that unless they leave, they could face stiff fines, arrest, or the seizure of their vehicles, as the Washington Examiner reports.

A press release issued by local police warned those currently engaged in civil disobedience that “[i]t is a criminal offense to obstruct, interrupt, or interfere with the lawful use, enjoyment, or operation of property,” suggesting that blocking main roadways into the capital city could indeed result in criminal charges, permanent forfeitures, and possible prohibition from crossing into the U.S.

The city’s mayor, Jim Watson, has announced his intention to seek additional law enforcement support ahead of the weekend, in which even larger protests are anticipated from demonstrators who have declared their unwillingness to depart until the government lifts pandemic restrictions.

As the Examiner noted, a state of emergency was declared by Watson in Ottawa on Sunday, and as of mid-week, there had reportedly been 23 arrests and more than 1,000 fines for fireworks, horn honking, and other minor offenses.

According to the CBC, the Ottawa protests expanded somewhat on Thursday, as a group of demonstrators in vehicles moved their operations to the city’s primary airport for a few hours that morning, though it did not appear that any flights were delayed or disrupted as a result.

It is not only in Ottawa that Canadian protesters are making their voices heard by amassing truck convoys of significant size, as the Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor, Ontario and Detroit remained closed on Thursday, a situation which is producing notable disruptions to the automobile industry specifically and high volumes of international commerce more generally, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens on Thursday suggested that he was ready to request help from police to “physically remove” demonstrators in the near future, but noted, “[i] t’s very frustrating because people just want us to go in and flush everyone out, and there’s a real threat of violence here.”

The sentiments driving the Canadian convoy have undeniably caught hold across the world, however, with a similar demonstration taking shape in Paris, as well as in Belgium, Australia and New Zealand, with strong indications emerging that a sizable protest is likely to occur in California this weekend in the vicinity of the Super Bowl.

Though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has attempted to dismiss the demands of the convoy truckers as the rantings of “those who hurl abuse at small business workers…and fly racist flags,” a true reckoning on the authoritarian excesses of the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly happening all over the globe, and he – and others in similar positions of power – disregard these developments at their great peril.

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