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Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian demonstrators described their experiences as police broke up the Freedom Convoy over the weekend.
Protests against COVID-19 mandates rallied in Ottawa on Jan. 29 and brought hundreds of truckers and tens of thousands of protesters to the capital. Law enforcement over the weekend began breaking up the protests and installed fenced perimeters surrounding Parliament Hill, leaving the blocks empty of trucks and demonstrators for the first time in weeks.
“They have to tear gas people out, but Trudeau will have Ottawa back by Monday, I can almost guarantee it,” Daniel, a protester from Windsor, told Fox News Saturday evening, hours before law enforcement used anti-riot weapons to disperse the crowd.
Daniel protested in Windsor, Ontario, and he believed the aggressive police action would end the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.
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“I hope it ends good,” he said. “I hope we end all mandates. That’s all we could ask for. That’s the only reason why all of us are here.”
In response to the convoy, the city of Ottawa outlined a “secured area” on Feb. 17 where demonstrators could face arrest under the Emergencies Act, which Prime Minister Trudeau imposed earlier in the week. By Feb. 20, authorities had arrested 191 people and filed 389 charges, the police announced.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Kelly, another protester, told Fox News on Saturday afternoon as police systematically pushed protesters out of the streets around Parliament. “I feel like the last couple of weeks, it wasn’t as bad as this is now.”
One man, Thamer, said he felt his spirit rekindled after coming to the protest after years of lockdown, but the mood dampened following the police’s aggressive actions.
“They pushed right through the crowd with the horses,” he said. “And they ended up trampling a lot of people, knocking a bunch of people over.”
One protester, Jessica, told Fox News: “On our side, it’s just a bunch of love.”
“On the alternate side of things, it’s not so pretty,” she continued. “They won’t really look at you. They won’t speak to you. It is very robotic and unhuman, really.”
Emily, a student who visited the Ottawa protest several times, said: “A cop from in front put his hand out and was pushing me, like choking me, pushing me back.”
A cop then tried “to pull me by my hair through to arrest me behind the line,” she added.
Madison, an Ottawa resident who came to the protest every day since it began, said Friday: “It got really bad … They were very aggressive.”
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“They can clear this road, but we’re just going to move over,” she said of police efforts to create a secure area. “Nobody’s leaving.“
While some protesters were aggressive toward the police and other demonstrators, they weren’t representative of the group as a whole, Kelly told Fox News.
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“I talked to some of the cops, and they were actually really nice,” she said.
The Ottawa Police Service announced Feb. 20: “If you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges.”
Meanwhile, Jessica told Fox News: “The only emergency is that there’s that many people that are still so lost. That’s the only state of emergency that I see.”