As Ottawa police move in on protesters, VicPD prepare for Saturday’s protest

Protesters seen in downtown Victoria on Feb. 12, 2022. (CHEK News)

After 22 days Ottawa Police Service, with the assistance of officers from detachments across the country, moved in on vaccine mandate protesters Friday morning.

Armoured vehicles could be seen alongside officers on horseback as well as teams of police in riot gear and carrying tear gas.

By early evening more than 100 protesters had been arrested and 21 vehicles had been towed. Several other trucks drove out voluntarily.

In a media availability Friday afternoon, Ottawa police expressed concerns about children being present at the protest site.

“We’ve prepared for this and made plans to ensure these children are unharmed during our operation,” said Interim Chief Steve Bell.

As the situation escalated, police reported that officers were being assaulted and videos appeared to show pepper spray being deployed. At one point police said a protester threw a bicycle at a police horse in an attempt to injure it.

In B.C.’s Capital it was a much different scene Friday. About two dozen protesters were waving flags outside the B.C. Legislature. A larger protest is expected Saturday.

Victoria police say there have been a couple arrests and numerous tickets handed out at previous Saturday rallies, mostly for traffic offenses and noise but say they don’t anticipate the Emergencies Act will impact their enforcement efforts Saturday.

“We haven’t seen the same kind of incidents and issues we’ve seen in Ottawa and other places so we really feel comfortable the powers we have right now are the ones that enable us to do those two objectives, keep everyone safe and enable a peaceful, safe and lawful protest,” said VicPD spokesperson Bowen Osoko.

READ MORE: B.C. premier describes anti-vaccine protesters’ harassment of health-care worker as ‘thuggish’

Meanwhile, police in Ottawa said they plan to continue their enforcement 24 hours a day until the area is cleared.

“This methodical and well-resourced plan will take time and we’re here to see it through to a safe ending,” Bell said.

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April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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