Police move to clear last demonstrators in Canada’s trucker-led protests
Police in Canada moved on Feb. 18 to dislodge the final truckers and protesters from downtown Ottawa, in a mostly peaceful operation aimed at bringing an end to three weeks of demonstrations over Covid-19 health rules.
Late Friday night, Ottawa police, who pledged the operation would push ahead "until residents and citizens have their city back," were still working to clear the capital's streets.
Deployed by the hundreds, police said they made more than 100 arrests and towed about 20 vehicles. No one was seriously hurt, they added, with Ottawa interim police chief Steve Bell saying the operation was going as planned but would take time.
Some truckers, who had led the protests that kicked off three weeks ago and choked Ottawa's streets with big rigs and demonstators by the hundreds, chose to leave on their own, removing their 18-wheelers from the streets surrounding parliament.
Authorities continued to warn demonstrators to go.
"You must leave. You must cease further unlawful activity and immediately remove your vehicle and/or property from all unlawful protest sites," Ottawa police tweeted repeatedly, warning of possible arrests.
Throughout the day, heavily armed officers -- including on horseback -- lined up against protesters who locked arms, advancing slowly and methodically to push back the spirited crowd.
An AFP journalist saw several demonstrators led away in handcuffs as police and tow trucks moved in, although most simply surrendered.
A few demonstrators were wrestled to the ground, and at least one who refused to exit his truck had his windows smashed and was dragged out by police.
The so-called "Freedom Convoy", which inspired copycat protests in other countries, began with truckers demonstrating...