Police arrest more than 100 COVID-19 mandate protesters in Ottawa, Canada

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Feb. 19 (UPI) — Police arrested more than 100 protesters involved in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations in the Canadian capital of Ottawa which officials said turned violent.

The convoy protests begin in late January and were initially focused on the Canadian government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, but have since expanded into a broader movement against public health measures to limit COVID-19 spread.

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Police arrested more than 100 people and have towed 21 vehicles in the Ottawa demonstrations by the end of the day Friday, according to police.

Protests turned violent by Friday evening when the police department tweeted that the protesters were “assaulting officers” and “have attempted to remove officer’s weapons.”

One person was arrested after allegedly throwing a bicycle at a police horse, police added.

On Saturday, the Ottawa Police Service announced the arrest on Friday of Patrick King, 44, a main organizer in the “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa.

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The charges against King included mischief, counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to commit the offense of obstructing police.

King was scheduled to appear in court later today.

Police also arrested two other protest organizers by early Friday.

Snow fell on Friday amid freezing temperatures, and police told CNN protests have become more tense recently as protesters have placed young children between them and police.

“Even through all the planning, it still shocks and surprises me that we are seeing children put in harm’s way in the middle of a demonstration where a police operation is unfolding,” Steve Bell, Ottawa’s interim police chief, told CNN.

The police department issued notice to protesters Wednesday that the protests were unlawful as they have blocked streets in and around the parliament.

By late Thursday, police began arresting protesters to end about three weeks of protests.

Ottawa Police Service confirmed arrests early Friday, including two other protest organizers, Tamara Lich, 49, and Chris Barber, 46.

Lich was arrested on charge of counseling to commit mischief, and Barber was arrested on charges of counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to commit the offense of obstructing police.

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Convoy protesters also closed the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit for a week, disrupting auto companies by blocking trucks from moving auto parts between the countries.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday to allow the federal government to expand measures to end the protests and pointed out to CNN that some people in the United States were funding the protesters.

“We see that roughly half of the funding that is flowing to the barricaders here is coming from the United States,” Trudeau told CNN. “The goal of all measures, including financial measures in the Emergencies Act, is to deal with the current threat only, and to get the situation fully under control.”

U.S. officials are also concerned about a potential trucker convoy protest ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, according to CNN.