By: Thomas I. Likness with Andre Lajoie in Ottawa
Eagle News Service
(Eagle News) — Ottawa police began arresting Freedom Convoy protesters late Thursday who refused to leave the city after being camped out in the downtown area for three weeks now.
And Acting Police Chief Steve Bell says children of the demonstrators will be taken to safety.
“We continue to work with our partners from the Children’s Aid Society and other social services to look at the best, most safest way to have children removed from the area prior to any sort of police action,” said Bell.
Bell says police have set up a perimeter around the downtown area with about 100 check points to contain the demonstrators.
Only people who live or work in the area are allowed in.
New fencing has been erected around several government buildings in the area occupied by protesters.
Bell says police continue trying to convince protesters to voluntarily leave.
“We’ve told them they must leave and we’ve warned them the consequences of disobeying these rules,” he said. “To those engaged in the unlawful protest, if you want to leave under your own terms, now is the time to do it.”
Despite the warnings and the possibility of steep fines and jail time, the protesters have dug in.
In an almost mocking manner, they continue to party in the streets and defy police.
In defiance of an extension of a court injunction prohibiting horn honking downtown, many leaned on their horns for a solid seven minutes at 1:00 p.m. ET today.
This weekend will be different
As the holiday weekend approaches many are worried there will be another influx of protesters.
But Bell says police will prevent that from happening.
“What I can tell you is this weekend will look very different than the past three weekends,” he said.
Bell says officers from several other police forces in Ontario and Quebec are coming to the capital to bolster their ranks.
Police and protesters will have to contend with a winter storm that is expected to dump up to 30 centimeters of snow on the city by Friday.
Businesses part of lawsuit
A proposed class action lawsuit launched by downtown residents now includes some business as plaintiffs.
The suit is seeking CA$306 million in damages and names protest organizers, truckers, donors and others as defendants.
The government is freezing the bank accounts of people and businesses associated with the protest. The action includes crypto currency.
New federal rules against money laundering and terrorist financing will now include crowdfunding platforms and payment services.
“These measures are real, they are being used, they will have an impact and there is a really easy way to avoid being affected by these measures, and that is just go home, go back to work,” said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
(Eagle News Service)