Police in Canada’s capital have warned that “Freedom Convoy” protesters may be “arrested without a warrant” if they continue their efforts – as politicians plead for an end to the ongoing demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions.
Ottawa police issued a statement Wednesday indicating that the protesters who have paralyzed the capital city since late last month could face mass arrests as the blockades there and at two major ports of entry continue.
“The unlawful act of blocking streets in the downtown core is resulting in people being denied the lawful use, enjoyment and operation of their property,” police said. “You must immediately cease further unlawful activity or you may face charges.”
“You could be arrested without a warrant for this offense if you are a party to the offense or assisting others in the direct or indirect commission in this offense,” police continued.
The protesters’ vehicles may also be seized if they’re arrested and potentially forfeited upon conviction of mischief of property, police said.
“Charges or convictions related to the unlawful activity associated with the demonstrations may lead to denial in crossing the USA border,” Ottawa police said.
At least 23 arrests have been made in Ottawa during the protest, where cops have handed out more than 1,300 tickets. Some 85 criminal investigations are also underway, Canada’s Global News reported late Wednesday.
The stern warning from Ottawa police comes as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the demonstrations in Ottawa and at the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, are hurting the nation’s economy.
“The blockades in Windsor and Ottawa are endangering jobs, impeding trade, threatening the economy and obstructing our communities,” Trudeau tweeted Wednesday. “They must stop.”
Trudeau said he discussed the matter with Premier of Ontario Doug Ford, who echoed the prime minister’s take.
“We will continue working together to support our police forces as they manage these situations,” Ford tweeted. “We both agreed this must come to an end.”
Protesters have also been set up at a border crossing at Coutts, Alberta, for 10 days – with about 50 trucks there as of Wednesday. More than 400 trucks have taken over downtown Ottawa during the demonstrations, which have no end in sight.
The “Freedom Convoy” protests, which started on Jan. 29, began as a movement against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, but has since grown into a mass revolt against Trudeau’s government and other coronavirus regulations.
Major auto manufacturers said they would suspend production as the protesters blocked inbound Canadian traffic at the Detroit supply route for a third day, while US-bound flow was still moving.
Toyota, Ford and Chrysler said the demonstrations had impacted their plants, while supply shortages also forced General Motors to cancel its second shift of the day at a factory near Lansing, Michigan.
“This interruption on the Detroit-Windsor bridge hurts customers, auto workers, supplies, communities and companies on both sides of the border,” Ford said in a statement. “We hope this situation is resolved quickly because it could have widespread impact on all automakers in the US and Canada.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars of products have been held back at the Ambassador Bridge in the last three days. About 75 vehicles and 100 protesters remained on the main road leading on and off the bridge, CBC reported Wednesday.
With Post wires