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Ottawa police arrest more than 100 people as officers move to clear convoy protest


Ottawa police have arrested more than 100 people as the operation continues to retake downtown streets from the trucker convoy occupation.

As of 9:30 p.m., officers were slowly moving west along Wellington Street to push back protesters, with the intersections of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive and Wellington and Mackenzie Avenue cleared of protesters.

Tensions escalated as the sun set and darkness fell over the downtown area on day 22 of the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration that has blocked several roads and forced businesses to close.

Ottawa police said on Twitter that protesters were assaulting officers and attempting to remove officers' weapons. A couple of people had been pepper- sprayed on Wellington Street.

Interim Chief Steve Bell said the demonstrators have been charged with various offences, including mischief. The protesters were arrested despite being repeatedly warned all week that they were participating in an illegal protest.

"Even this morning, all unlawful protesters were given many, many opportunities to leave," he said.

The massive operation was largely peaceful for most of the day, but got increasingly tense early Friday evening.

Police said one person had been arrested for intentionally harming a police service animal.

Earlier Friday, Bell said no protesters have been injured. One police officer was injured, but Bell said it was a minor injury that has been treated.

The arrests mark the beginning of a massive police operation to dismantle the protest that's expected to take days. Bell did not give an exact timeline on how long it might take, only saying police will "work day and night until this is completed."

Police said along with the arrests, they have also towed 21 vehicles.

Dozens of officers gathered along Colonel By Drive Friday morning to form a line and move into the protester encampment at Rideau Street and Sussex Drive.

Protesters formed a line in front of police. As officers slowly moved forward, they arrested demonstrators. Protesters chanting 'Freedom' and singing 'O Canada.' Police on horses, as well as a tactical team truck, could be seen behind the initial lines of officers.

Police also arrested a third protest leader on Friday. Convoy organizer Pat King livestreamed his arrest on Facebook. Officers on the video informed him he was facing several charges, including counselling to commit mischief. Two other organizers were arrested Thursday.

Mayor Jim Watson told CTV News the police action has created a collective sense of relief throughout the city.

“We know it's still not over,” he said, “There's still many more challenges to face and we don't want to start claiming victory because there's still a lot of work to do. But I can tell you I've never been so happy to see a tow truck on television.”

Watson called the protest the most serious situation the city has faced in its history.

“It's gone on too long, but I'm very, very pleased we're starting to see some decisive action and arrests being made. People are going to be held accountable."

At Rideau and Sussex on Friday, police broadcast a message urging protesters to leave via Sussex Drive northbound, warning if they don't they will be arrested. There were also officers in riot gear and could be seen with tear gas at the ready.

An RV that was blocking Sussex northbound, which had 'Hold the Line' written on it, was towed away. The driver was pulled out of the vehicle and arrested.

As police cleared room on Sussex, a woman with a baby in a stroller could be seen standing in the street.

Police said some protesters "have put children between police operations and the unlawful protest site. The children will be brought to a place of safety."

The arrests are part of a major police operation to clear the downtown core that's expected to take several days, police sources said.

Earlier, officers arrested people on Nicholas and Waller streets, the easternmost part of the downtown protester encampments. Police could be seen arriving en masse to a staging area at uOttawa campus on Friday morning, and making arrests among the trucks parked on Nicholas Street.

A bit later Friday morning, tow trucks arrived to remove the big rigs and other vehicles lining Nicholas Street.

Police issued a new warning Friday morning that anyone found in the protest zone may be arrested.

"DEMONSTRATORS: You must leave," they wrote. "Anyone found within the unlawful protest site may be arrested."

One woman who spoke with CTV News said her son-in-law was among those arrested.

"My son-in-law was standing his ground and he was arrested,” she said, adding that they had arrived downtown at 10 a.m.

Police have set up nearly 100 checkpoints to secure the downtown core as they move in to clear out the demonstrators, who have been camped out downtown for three weeks.

The checkpoints have been set up in a three-square-kilometre area to control traffic flow into the "red zone", and security fencing has been installed around Parliament Hill and other federal buildings. Police are turning away convoy protesters trying to head downtown at the checkpoints, and the lineups at the checkpoints are causing delays for commuters.

Light rail train service into the downtown core has been suspended and bus routes are being diverted. Police are warning anyone who doesn't have to be downtown to avoid the area.

Ottawa police also reported renewed efforts to flood their 9-1-1 line with calls, something that happened last week as well.

On Thursday, police arrested several people in the downtown area, including convoy organizers Chris Barber and Tamara Lich.

Police confirmed the charges against Barber on Friday: counselling to commit mischief, counselling to disobey a court order and counselling to obstruct police. Lich has been charged with counselling to commit mischief, police said. Barber was granted bail on the conditions he leave Ontario by Feb. 23. Lich is scheduled to appear in court on Saturday.

The House of Commons was scheduled to debate the emergency measures the government brought in to tackle the protest, but that sitting has been cancelled.

A note from Speaker Anthony Rota on Friday morning said the sitting is cancelled because of a police operation expected to take place by Parliament Hill and other locations around Ottawa's downtown core.


Ottawa's interim police chief Steve Bell said Thursday things would look "very different" downtown compared to the previous three weekend of the trucker convoy demonstration.

Bell urged protesters to leave the downtown area, and promised that police action to end the demonstration would begin.

"We have a very deliberate plan that will be methodical and will take time for us to progress through to be able to completely remove anyone from the core," Bell said.

"What I can tell you is this weekend will look very different than the last three weekends."

The checkpoints into the secured area caused traffic delays Friday morning, with police urging people not to come downtown if they don't have to.

The first trucks arrived on Wellington Street on Jan. 28, as part of the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures.  Since then, hundreds of vehicles have blocked Wellington Street, the intersection of Rideau and Sussex and other roads across the Parliamentary Precinct.

Ottawa police are working with the RCMP and OPP, as well as officers from municipal police forces.


Ottawa police have set up a so-called 'secured area', limiting traffic into the downtown core.

Police say checkpoints will be set up in the area from the Queensway to Wellington Street and Bronson Avenue to the Rideau Canal area.

Police say anyone who lives, works or are moving through the area for reasons other than to participate in the protest will be allowed to enter.

"You will be required to show proof of exemption for your travel to the Secured Area," police said.

A look at the secured area set up by Ottawa police.


Ontario Provincial Police say multiple exits are closed along Hwy. 417 through the centre of Ottawa.

The eastbound exits on the Queensway are closed at Rochester, Kent, Metcalfe and Nicholas.

The westbound exits on Hwy. 417 are closed at Bronson, Metcalfe, Nicholas and Vanier Parkway.


OC Transpo says the O-Train will not be running downtown until further notice.

The Confederation Line will operate from Tunney's Pasture Station to Pimisi and Blair Station to Hurdman Station. There will be no service between Pimisi and Hurdman stations.


Ottawa City Hall, the underground parking garage and the Rink of Dreams remain closed.

The Ottawa Public Library Main and Rideau branches are closed today.

Ottawa Public Health says the vaccination clinic at the University of Ottawa Minto Sports Complex will be closed today.


The University of Ottawa says in-person activities on the main campus will be suspended until Monday.

"In light of ongoing developments near Parliament Hill, the University has made the decision to move academic and administrative activities online until Monday morning February 21," uOttawa said in a statement on its website.

"This does not impact activities at Roger Guindon and the Lees Campus."

Parking lots on the main campus will be closed and access to some buildings will be restricted.

- with files from Graham Richardson, CTV News Ottawa, and the Canadian Press Top Stories

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