Several ongoing criminal investigations related to the Ottawa convoy protest

The Ottawa Police Service says criminal investigations are ongoing in relation to incidents that occurred during Saturday’s “Freedom Convoy” protest on Parliament Hill and throughout the city’s downtown core.

“Multiple criminal investigations are ongoing regarding the desecration of the National War Memorial/Statue of Terry Fox, threatening/illegal/intimidating behavior toward police/city employees and others, and damage to a the city,” police said in a tweet on Sunday.

Thousands of protesters descended on downtown Ottawa on Saturday, creating a massive traffic jam. The bulk of the crowd remained on Parliament Hill, but there were many more people wandering the streets, in some cases engaging in behavior condemned by authorities, including standing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Monument Canadian War Memorial and tying the Canadian flag upside down to the statue of Terry Fox on Wellington Street. Shepherds of Hope also said some protesters harassed staff and volunteers at their soup kitchen on Saturday.

Police said no arrests were made on Saturday.

“Officers encountered several difficulties with protesters, including sporadic roadblocks by trucks, which officers worked to remove,” a press release read. “These high-risk situations were defused and resolved without arrests.”

The press release does not mention the criminal investigations.

In a statement to CTV News, the Ottawa Police Service confirmed that the incident at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is under investigation. Police also confirmed to CTV News that they are working with protest organizers on a route and a safe way to clear downtown.

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA on Sunday, spokesperson for Ottawa Police Const. Amy Gagnon urged residents who witness crimes to call the police directly.

“I know there’s a lot going around on social media and we want to remind people that we can’t police based on social media,” she said. “In fact, no incidents have been reported, so we are asking people to call us. Please call the Ottawa Police if there is a reportable incident.”

Gagnon said there are officers ready to investigate any criminal reports and are ready to lay charges if necessary.

“We are here to help residents and so if you have or are being threatened or if it escalates into violence, please call us. We need to know so we can respond.”

The protest against COVID-19 mandates and public health measures began with a convoy of truckers driving from British Columbia to Ottawa, with many people coming in personal vehicles. Downtown protesters honked their horns for most of Saturday and set off fireworks at night. The horn honking resumed downtown around 8 a.m. Sunday as a small crowd began to gather on Parliament Hill.

Gagnon could not provide an accurate estimate of the crowd size, but said it numbered in the thousands. She said police were preparing for the same number of people in the core on Sunday.

Barricades at the war memorial

Police also announced that barricades were placed around the National War Memorial on Sunday to prohibit vehicles from parking at the Cenotaph.

Police removed a few cars that had parked around the monument on Saturday morning. Later that day, a video shared on social media showed a person standing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier shouting “freedom!” has drawn widespread condemnation from the nation’s top soldier, Chief of the Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre, Defense Minister Anita Anand and groups like the Royal Canadian Legion.

Concrete barriers were placed on the paths leading to the monument on Sunday.

“We need our memorials respected. This behavior is unacceptable and so we are putting in place physical barriers to ensure vehicles cannot enter the path and you will also see an increased police presence around these areas,” she said. .

Gagnon also said police were also working to put up barriers around the Terry Fox Law on Wellington Street.

Mark M. Gagnon