Ottawa police say 23 people have been arrested in the ongoing anti-vaccine mandate protest in the city’s downtown, and there are 85 ongoing criminal investigations related to the nearly two-week-long demonstration.
More than 1,300 tickets have been issued to protesters.
Deputy Chief Steve Bell says officers are focused on hardening the perimeter around downtown and preventing fuel from getting to the trucks parked there, saying the 1,800 additional officers Ottawa has requested would help that effort.
He says police are greatly concerned that almost 25 per cent of the 418 large vehicles still blockading Ottawa’s streets are occupied by families with children.
Bell says the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa has been called in to assess the situation, pointing out the frigid temperatures, access to sanitation, and risk to the children’s safety should there be a police operation in the area.
Police are not looking to remove the children, but rather want advice from the society about whether further steps are necessary.
The demonstration has seen the downtown capital shut down, with businesses closing out of safety concerns and residents complaining of harassment by protesters.
Federal officials have been talking with City of Ottawa and provincial representatives to find solutions to end the protest that has sparked solidarity rallies across the country, some of which have blocked traffic at border crossings in Coutts, Alta., and Windsor, Ont.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2022.