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Ottawa, Canada, police announced Sunday morning that so far 191 arrests have been made, warning that a law enforcement operation was continuing downtown to clear out trucks and anti-vaccine mandate demonstrators who have been protesting in the area for weeks.
So far, 57 vehicles have been towed and Kent Street and Bay Street were mostly cleared of vehicles Sunday morning, police added. Charges were also announced earlier Sunday against one protester.
Ottawa Police Service said Tyson George Billings, 44, of High Prairie, Alberta, was arrested Saturday. He was formally charged by the criminal investigations section Sunday with mischief, counseling to commit the offense of mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order, obstructing police and counseling to commit the offense of obstructing police. He was scheduled to appear in court later Sunday.
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The department has spent the morning warning anyone inside a so-called secured area without proof of exclusion would be arrested and that police would be removing all vehicles parked on certain streets.
“If you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges,” Ottawa Police tweeted earlier Sunday.
The department shared a photo of officers lining a snow-covered city street.
“We continue to maintain a police presence in and around the area the unlawful protest occupied,” police said. “We are using fences to ensure the ground gained back is not lost.”
This comes several days after Ottawa Police issued a notice Wednesday that anyone who did not remove their vehicles and leave “unlawful protest sites” would face severe penalties, including being placed under arrest, charged, or their driver’s or commercial vehicle operating licenses would be suspended.
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Personal or business bank accounts, including virtual currency, may be subject to examination and restriction, police said. They also threatened that anyone who brings a minor to the protest site could be fined up to $5,000 and/or potentially spend up to five years in prison.
The protests in Canada have struck a chord in the U.S. and across the world. Several U.S. Republicans have shown support for the Freedom Convoy, and recently, Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., said Saturday she would introduce legislation to grant temporary asylum to those involved in Ottawa protests.
“Justin Trudeau’s heavy-handed crackdown against peaceful protesters in Canada is not the action of a Western Democracy, but that of an authoritarian regime like Venezuela,” Herrell tweeted Saturday. “Just as we provide asylum for political prisoners, we should do the same for truckers who have been subjected to violence, had their property confiscated, and their bank accounts frozen by a government that is quickly becoming the embarrassment of the free world.”
She added: “I am introducing legislation that would temporarily grant asylum to innocent Canadian protesters who are being persecuted by their own government. We cannot be silent as our neighbors to the north are treated so badly.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also lambasted by a member of European Parliament.
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“The prime minister of Canada, the way he’s behaving right now – he’s exactly like a tyrant, like a dictator. He’s like Ceaușescu in Romania,” MEP Cristian Terheș, of Romania, said during a speech to parliament in Brussels. “If you raise doubts about the vaccines, you’re outcast. What’s the difference between what he does and what happened under The Inquisition? On one side they say well we should not believe in God, but on the other they say believe in science. We don’t have to. Science is not about belief. Science is about measurements, conclusions, hypothesis and arguments.”
“I hope this movement for freedom and for rights is spreading all around the world,” he added. “Because at the end of the day, we have to make sure that those elected officials understand that they were elected into those offices for the people. Not to behave like masters of slaves.”