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Protesters say they will stay put despite increased police enforcement


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Protest leaders and truck drivers parked downtown said Monday they were defiant and motivated in the face of increased police enforcement.

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Ottawa’s police chief, Peter Sloly, vowed to “turn up the heat in every possible way” on the protesters at a media scrum Monday, but he also issued a plea for more resources.

Officers raided one of the protesters’ fuel stockpiles and seized “thousands of litres” of fuel and propane Sunday night, Sloly said, and, in the downtown core, officers issued more than 100 tickets the same day.

In a media release Sunday night, the service said seven people had been arrested, six of them for mischief and one for driving while prohibited. Officers had also cleared a protest encampment at Confederation Park. “There are over 60 criminal investigations so far related to the demonstration,” the service’s media release said. “They are primarily for mischief, thefts, hate crimes and property damage.”

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Deputy police Chief Steve Bell said at a Monday afternoon city council meeting that protesters were making it difficult for officers to enforce the ban on fuel by carrying large quantities of water in gas cans.

Bell also said police were dealing with threats, including one to police headquarters. American authorities arrested a person in Putnam County, Ohio, in connection with that incident.

Protester trickery happening when it comes to hiding fuel transfers. Bell says one of the strategies is people are entering the zone carrying large quantities of water in gas cans. — Jon Willing (@JonathanWilling) February 7, 2022

Despite the push from police to crack down on the protesters, on Monday morning they remained motivated to stay put.

Christian, the driver of a truck that has been parked just east of the National War Memorial for 10 days, said protest supporters had taken to moving empty fuel containers to distract the police. He had enough fuel for three weeks, he said, and had no intention of leaving.

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“We’re going to win,” he said. “People see what they are doing to Canadian citizens.”

At a satellite camp in a parking lot on Coventry Road where several dozen trucks and RVs are parked, a protester with a radio refused to answer questions. Police had raided the camp Sunday evening, confiscating fuel that was stashed there. They arrested several protesters who refused to show identification, protest organizers said on social media.

“Everything’s great here,” the man with the radio said. “We’re totally self sufficient. We’ve got our own media. No comment. Everything’s great.”

The driver of a heavy truck parked on Rideau Street said the protesters would remain defiant despite increased police efforts to confiscate fuel and make them uncomfortable. “We’ve been uncomfortable for two years,” he said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

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As he spoke, trucks parked at the corner of Rideau and Sussex Streets began honking. Locals had thanked the truckers for being there, the driver said, but, asked about the impact of the noise on local residents for more than a week, he acknowledged that it caused a disturbance. “I would be angry,” he said.

Groups of protesters strode past police cars carrying fuel containers onto Wellington Street, where approximately 200 vehicles remain parked. It was unclear if the containers were filled with diesel.

Other police agencies are co-ordinating resources with the Ottawa Police Service, but despite that Sloly said more resources are needed. A group of seven Sudbury police officers patrolled past a group of eight York regional police officers along Wellington Street on Monday as a group of protesters hurled abuse at television journalists filming in front of the West Block. “You sold your soul to the devil,” one man yelled. “Tell the truth. You’re telling people lies. It’s all lies.”

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In a news conference that was barred to legacy and established media outlets, protest organizers said they would reduce the honking of horns in the downtown core if city officials met with them.

“This can only be resolved by lawmakers, not tyrannical enforcement,” a protest organizer said at the news conference, which was streamed online. “Every time the police conduct an aggressive operation against us, the support for this movement only grows.”

READ MORE COVERAGE OF THE ANTI-VACCINE MANDATE PROTEST IN DOWNTOWN OTTAWA:

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