Police arrest several in the Canadian capital as a motorcyclist parade turns violent

(Reuters) – Police in the Canadian capital Ottawa made several arrests on Friday, after a rally of hundreds of cyclists, pedestrians and cars waving Canadian flags through downtown Ottawa, authorities said.

Friday’s parade was a protest against the government’s alleged overreach, and came less than three months after truck drivers’ traffic had plagued the capital for more than three weeks.

Ottawa police said in a tweet on Friday that several people had been arrested and that officers remained at the scene for their own safety.

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Organizers of Friday’s caravan, which they call “Rolling Thunder Ottawa,” say they are there to support “Freedom” and military veterans. Local media say several participants were in Ottawa during the previous protest, which was against mandating a vaccine for cross-border truck drivers.

Many truck drivers and protesters, raising their voices, marched over pickups and cars, chanting “freedom” through downtown Ottawa as police deployed additional officers to bring the situation under control.

Ottawa police said in a tweet on Twitter that several cars attempted to occupy a downtown parking lot, although all but one were left.

Ottawa police, which has come under fire for its handling of the February protests, said they would not allow cars to stop or park on downtown streets. They brought in extra staff to bolster municipal authorities ahead of Friday’s rally.

In February, the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked rarely used emergency powers to clear up protests in Ottawa, and police arrested dozens of people who shut down the city center near Parliament. Demonstrators also closed the main border crossings into the United States. Read more

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Neil Sheard, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, is one of the main protest organizers for Friday’s march.

In a video posted to YouTube, Sheard said his plan is to lay a wreath at the National War Memorial as a show of respect for veterans. There are other groups involved in protesting generally against government and government mandates.

Sheard said he supports any group that wants to fight for the freedom of all Canadians, because in his view, the costs of free speech have been paid for by war veterans.

“Canadians’ rights and freedoms are being eroded, and we will work to maintain legal civil action in order to restore those basic rights,” Andrew McGillivray, a member of Freedom Fighters Canada who is also involved, told Reuters recently. .

The events that began on Friday are scheduled to end on Sunday.

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(Additional reporting by Gina Zucker in Toronto) Additional reporting by Anna Mehler-Paperni in Toronto.

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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