Canadian police on Thursday arrested two leaders of the Freedom Convoy protests as Ottawa’s acting police chief indicated aggressive steps are planned to end the protest that has tied up downtown Ottawa for about three weeks.
“The action is imminent,” said Steve Bell, Ottawa Police Service interim chief, said, according to CNN.
“In the past few days, we have been communicating directly with the unlawful protestors. We have told them they must leave, and we have warned them the consequences of disobeying these rules,” he said.
On Thursday, police sealed off a large section of downtown Ottawa that includes the protest site.
“Only those with lawful reason to enter the core, such as residents, businesses, and others with lawful reasons, will be allowed in the area,” Bell said. “The unlawful protesters must leave the area and will not be provided access.”
Police were working out the “safest way to have children removed from the area prior to any sort of police action,” Bell said, according to The Washington Post.
Demonstrations are “not a good place for children to be,” he said.
The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa asked that demonstrators make care arrangements for their children now.
“If parents and children are separated following police efforts in ending the demonstration in the downtown core, CASO will work to reunite families as soon as possible,” the group said in a statement, according to CNN.
Bell did not offer a timetable but said “this weekend will look very different from the past three weekends,” he said.
“We want people to peacefully leave,” he said. “But I can tell you that if they do not peacefully leave, we have plans, strategies, and tactics to be able to get them to leave.”
Convoy organizer Tamara Lich was arrested Thursday evening by Ottawa police and also remains in police custody. Both she and Chris Barber – who was arrested earlier – are expected to be charged criminally, according to sources.
— David Cochrane (@DavidWCochrane) February 18, 2022
Thursday’s arrests of convoy leaders Tamara Lich and Chris Barber represent part of the escalation. The two were arrested in Ottawa, according to CBC.
Barber was seen being taken away. Lich said she expected arrest, noting that her bank account had been frozen by the government using its emergency powers.
Candice Bergen, interim leader of the Conservative Party, said her party will object to the use of those powers when Parliament debates its required ratification of the step taken earlier in the week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The first act that he does when he has a chance to do something — he doesn’t go through step one, two, three — he goes straight to 100 and invokes the Emergencies Act,” Bergen said, according to CNN. “I don’t think anything that we will see will change our mind, we will be opposing it.”
Amid the fuss, Dany Beauregard, 34, has been parked near Parliament in his heated, one-room trailer along with his wife, Jessica, a former trucker, two children and a dog.
After one police request to leave, Beauregard went shopping for artificial grass for a front lawn. He said he has no reason to leave because he is doing nothing illegal, according to The Washington Post.
“It’s like camping, but in winter,” Beauregard said Tuesday. “I know I’m safe here. We are all like a big village.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.