Canadian capital freed of protestors, cleanup beginstext_fields
Ottawa: As winter grips the capital city in chill, Canadian police are now clearing out the remnants of a massive trucker's protest outside the Canadian Parliament, which has effectively blocked off the area since late January.
Early Sunday, police were manning checkpoints restricting access to a 500-acre (200-hectare) downtown area, while a sizable force remained on standby to defend the ground reclaimed from the truckers. The core area remains cut off from the public until further orders.
Last week saw police slowly advancing on protestors, forcing them to yield ground. While some linked arms and tried to resists, the majority of protestors surrendered or moved their rigs out of the way of their own volition. A few violent arrests were made with a trucker having his windows smashed in before police reached in and arrested him, as he refused to remove his vehicle.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is meanwhile facing a lawsuit from a civil liberties group and pushback from political rivals over the decision to invoke rarely used emergency powers to crack down on the unlawful protests. This is despite polls showing Canadians, once sympathetic to the trucker-led movement, have turned against them.
The convoy began a month ago as a protest against mandatory Covid-19 vaccines to cross the US border. It has inspired copycats in other countries, with Washington girding for a possible trucker protest to coincide with next week's State of the Union address by President Joe Biden.
The Canadian convoy triggered economically damaging blockades at the US border, including the bridge that is the key transit point between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. Police cleared that blockade a week ago.
Dozens there were arrested, including four people found with a cache of weapons and charged with conspiracy to murder police officers, and authorities froze Can$32 million ($25 million) in donations and bank accounts linked to the trucker movement.
Most of the protest's leaders have been arrested. Far-right activist Pat King was taken into custody early Friday afternoon as he left town, live-streaming his own apprehension on Facebook. Two other leaders, Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, were arrested Thursday evening. Lich, 49, was heard telling truckers as she was being led away by police to "hold the line."