As the number of "Freedom Convoy" protesters arrested in Ottawa grows to top 100, organizers Tamara Lich, Pat King and Chris Barber - who were arrested Friday as police cracked down on the still-numerous Parliament Hill protesters - are set to face a judge for the first time on Saturday. They will be arraigned on a number of mostly minor charges, including counseling to commit mischief, counseling to obey a court order, and obstructing police.
Police broke up the protests using a number of aggressive techniques Friday as they moved to break up what had become a four-week occupation. Ottawa Police eventually denied that they had used tear gas on protesters - instead they said protesters had launched gas at them. Police said no gas had been used Friday and Saturday.
One protester launched a gas canister and was arrested. Police response will be with public and officer safety in mind. Police remind protesters to remain peaceful.— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) February 19, 2022
Police did not used gas on protesters yesterday. They have not used gas on protesters today.— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) February 19, 2022
This looks a little "gas"-like to us...
Tear gas has been deployed in Ottawa pic.twitter.com/WulMRdzetA— GuyFrees (@GuyFrees) February 19, 2022
Barber has already been released on bail, with Canadian Justice Julie Bourgeois releasing him on a $100,000 bond and on the conditions he leave Ontario by next Wednesday and not publicly endorse the convoy or have any contact with the other protest organizers. Both King and Lich will appear in court on Saturday. The bail amount in Barber's case was notably high considering the charges, the most serious of which is the obstructing police charge.
King, Lich and other organizers of the "Freedom Convoy" protests also saw a temporary freeze to their bank accounts, including even their bitcoin and cryptocurrency funds, following an Ontario Superior Court ruling on Thursday.
As of early Saturday, police say so far at least 21 vehicles were towed on Friday as hundreds of officers - some of them riding on horseback - fanned out across Parliament Hill and the surrounding area to remove any resistant protesters from the streets, and forcing the removal of the hundreds of big rigs and trucks that have been there for weeks.
Ottawa police interim chief Steve Bell told a Friday evening news conference that clearing the area would take time, but the operation was "deliberate and methodical" and police were in control on the ground.
He said no serious injuries had been reported, and those arrested had been charged with various offenses including mischief, adding that police were still urging demonstrators to leave peacefully.
Yesterday's crackdown included several instances of police brutality that were caught on video. In one video, an elderly woman can be seen being "trampled" by police horses. Early reports claiming she had died proved incorrect.
Her name was Roberta Paulson. No quarter for the Ottowa police https://t.co/4H0LlxdqPJ— Witnessthehorror (@clownworldguide) February 19, 2022
In another incident of violence, a police officer can be seen smashing the butt of a rifle into a protesters face.
A police officer repeatedly smashes butt of rifle up and down. It appears to be on a protester. Question @OttawaPolice @JustinTrudeau @fordnation is how is person doing health-wise? Will there be probe to determine if force necessary?If someone knows who that is please contact me https://t.co/CBL5CJNA08— Joe Warmington (@joe_warmington) February 18, 2022
For those who have been arrested: those helmets and batons that police carried were for "your safety" not theirs.
PROTESTORS: We told you to leave. We gave you time to leave. We were slow and methodical, yet you were assaultive and aggressive with officers and the horses. Based on your behaviour, we are responding by including helmets and batons for our safety. pic.twitter.com/drxfhG9clP— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) February 19, 2022
Meanwhile, inside the House of Commons today MPs will resume debate on the use of the Emergencies Act to respond to the "illegal" protests and street blockades. The debate began on Thursday but Government House leader Mark Holland said in a Twitter post that House leaders from all parties had agreed to cancel Friday’s session thanks to a recommendation from Parliament security.