Ottawa’s mayor has declared a state of emergency to deal with truckers protesting nationwide coronavirus regulations – a 10-day occupation that has shut down the center of Canada’s capital.
“(This) reflects the grave danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing protests and underscores the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement. , reported Reuters.
The so-called “Freedom Convoy” started as a protest against a vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, but turned into a mass protest against the Canadian government over other coronavirus regulations.
Protesters gathered in downtown Ottawa, near Parliament Hill, and their demands grew to include an end to all of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national terms.
Speaking to Canadian radio station CFRA, Watson said the capital was “out of control” and truckers were behaving “insensitively” by “sounding horns and sirens, [setting off] fireworks and make it a party.
“Obviously we’re outnumbered and we’re losing this battle,” he said on Sunday, the BBC reported, adding: “It has to be reversed – we have to get our city back.”
Protest organizers said they would refrain from using their horns on Sunday for four hours “as a sign of goodwill”.
Watson did not provide specific details on what measures he might impose, but police said they would step up enforcement, including possible arrests of those seeking to help protesters by bringing them supplies such as fuel, toilet paper and food.
Police also moved some protesters and erected new barricades, saying they are “collecting financial, digital, vehicle registration… and other evidence that will be used in criminal prosecutions.”
The protesters, some of whom are waving Confederate and Nazi flags, have said they want to dissolve the Canadian government. Convoy organizers said they would not leave until the vaccination warrants were completed.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the government would not back down on the issue.
“We put the issue of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot…in the (2021) election and we are simply delivering on the promise we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” he said. he said on CBC television on Sunday, according to Reuters.
The blockade relies in part on funding from sympathizers in the United States, police said.
GoFundMe took down the convoy donations page, angering some Republican U.S. lawmakers who vowed to investigate the website’s decision.
Four people have been charged with hate crimes, according to police, who were investigating threats against public figures in conjunction with the FBI.
Police said they were handling more than 60 criminal inquiries, including for “mischief, theft, hate crime and property damage”, the BBC reported.
Trudeau, who is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, said the convoy represented a “small marginal minority” and the government would not be intimidated.
About 90% of Canada’s cross-border truckers and nearly 79% of the population have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Reuters reported.
A woman who drove for hours to join the protest in Ottawa said the action was about “our freedom”.
“A few people we know, friends, have lost their jobs because of these warrants,” Kimberly Ball told Agence France-Presse, adding that she was concerned about the safety and effectiveness of the shots. .
New York Post