OTTAWA, Canada — A “freedom convoy” of trucks joined by thousands of demonstrators to protest Canada’s vaccine mandate brought Ottawa to a virtual standstill for the second day on Sunday, as other sympathetic truck drivers lined a border highway in the United States. was blocked.
“This afternoon, a large police presence continues throughout the city and protesters and trucks continue to move,” Ottawa police said in a statement.
“These high-risk situations were resolved and resolved without any arrests,” officials said, adding that “police resources are fully stretched” in handling the obstacle, which involved hundreds of truck drivers.
Protests began last week in western Canada, where dozens of truck drivers organized a convoy to drive from Vancouver to the Canadian capital Ottawa to demonstrate against COVID-related restrictions, especially across the long US-Canada border. Recent vaccination requirements for truck drivers who do.
Trucks began arriving in Ottawa on Friday in several convoys, and were joined by thousands of other anti-vaccination protesters.
In solidarity with the convergence on Ottawa, truck drivers staged what police described as a “complete blockade” of Highway 4 in western Canada’s Alberta province along the US border on Sunday. Roads are a major route for commercial goods between nations.
“At the moment … the port of entry is technically open, although no one will be able to reach them except on foot,” Curtis Peters, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta, told. Trucks were blocking the road.
In Ottawa, the desecration of a war memorial and the harassment of some city officials and volunteers from NGOs prompted an angry response, and police said they had launched “multiple investigations”.
“I am saddened to see protesters dancing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrating the National War Memorial,” Wayne Eyre, the country’s chief of defense staff, said on Twitter.
“The people involved should bow their heads in shame.”
Barricades were put up on Sunday to block vehicular access in the vicinity of the war memorial, after several illegally parked vehicles were removed.
And an organization advocating for the homeless, the Shepherds of Good Hope, said its workers were “harassed” by protesters demanding food on a particularly cold weekend.
It said it had briefly offered free food to some protesters in an effort to de-escalate tensions, but added, “the events of this weekend have put significant pressure on our operations in an already difficult time.”
Canadian media reported that with protesters gathering, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family were taken to an undisclosed location in Ottawa on Saturday.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a major industry group, said most truck drivers in the country have been vaccinated. It has “strongly disapproved” of disruption in Ottawa.