Police launch criminal probes into ‘unlawful’ acts during trucker protests against Ottawa vaccine mandate

Police in Canada say “several criminal investigations are ongoing” into “threatening” and “illegal” behavior that occurred over the weekend during huge protests in the capital, Ottawa, where truckers and Thousands of supporters rallied to speak out against coronavirus vaccine mandates and other public health issues. measures.

While many protested peacefully, Ottawa police said they would investigate after monuments were defaced and some protesters displayed “threatening/unlawful/intimidating behavior towards police/city employees and officials.” ‘other people”.

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“Illegal behavior will not be tolerated and will be thoroughly investigated,” police said.

Cases of urination on the National War Memorial and desecration of other monuments have been reported, including the statue of Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete and cancer research activist who died in 1981 after dedicating his life to raise funds to cure the disease.

Brad West, mayor of Port Coquitlam, the BC town where Fox grew up, tweeted that “You don’t touch his statue. Ever.”

Video: Protests over vaccine mandates and restrictions pop up around the world

Some protesters held signs with swastikas. Others angrily called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step down, chanting in unison on Parliament Hill.

Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand called some of the scenes at Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial “beyond reprehensible” as footage of protesters dancing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and shouted “freedom”.

Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff Wayne Eyre said he was “sickened” by scenes of people disrespecting key monuments. “Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not for this,” Eyre tweeted on Saturday. “Those involved should bow their heads in shame.”

A self-proclaimed “freedom convoy” of trucks and their supporters began arriving in Ottawa last week to protest a federal vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers, after Canada and the United States announced that truckers entering their respective countries had to be fully vaccinated.

Images shared on social media alongside the hashtags #TruckerConvoy2022 and #TruckersForFreedom2022 showed semi-finalists honking late into the night and crowds dancing in the street under signs reading “segregation is not Canadian” and “the freedom of mandate”.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Sunday that convoy members had acted in an unacceptable manner and called on protest organizers to speak out against their “scandalous actions,” which he said included harassment of construction workers. city.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance said in a statement over the weekend that it condemned “in the strongest terms” the desecration of what it called “sacred sites”. The organization said it made a donation to the Terry Fox Foundation and the Soldier On program, which is run by the Canadian Armed Forces to support the recovery of members and veterans dealing with physical or mental injuries from service. .

On Sunday, Ottawa police urged people to work from home on Monday and ‘avoid travel’ downtown as officials work to ‘facilitate the safe departure of individuals and vehicles’ from the site demonstration.

Police said they towed vehicles blocking main roads – while soup kitchen Shepherds of Good Hope said staff were ‘harassed over meals’ and others were verbally abused during this which they called an “incredibly tough weekend”.

The organization said the trucks had been parked in the ambulance drop-off areas for about 12 hours and the commotion and noise caused by the protest had caused “significant anxiety and stress” among staff members. and service users.

At least 33,722 people have died of covid-19 in Canada since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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