Ottawa: Mayor declares state of emergency; churches close to keep worshipers and protesters away

Protest organizers had promised a quieter period but the honking started again in the morning

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Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency on Sunday to give the city more flexibility to deal with ongoing protests that have overwhelmed local resources.

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The city announced the move in a brief statement, saying the decision reflected “the grave danger and threat to the safety and security of residents” from protesters camped out across much of downtown.

The statement also said the decision highlights the need for support from higher levels of government.

Earlier in the day, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province stood with Ottawa during the nine-day protest that critics called an occupation.

The decision gives the city additional powers over procurement and service delivery.

The city’s statement also notes that these powers could help purchase equipment needed by frontline workers and first responders.

Protesters had created enough of a sense of fear that Christ Church Cathedral, just on the western edge of downtown, was supposed to open this Sunday for the first time since mid-December as provincial restrictions eased. Instead, lines of trucks clogging downtown and protesters occupying the streets canceled reopening plans because, as church rector Beth Bretzlaff said, he was unsure of bring parishioners to the area.

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The so-called Freedom Convoy arrived in the nation’s capital last weekend, and while some people returned home during the week, turnout rose again, with police estimating thousands were part of it. of the weekend crowd.

Similar scenes played out in other parts of the country on Sunday, but on a smaller scale than the day before, when thousands of people opposed to pandemic restrictions gathered in cities across the country. .

const. of the Halifax police. John MacLeod said hundreds of trucks and cars drove through downtown on Sunday and caused quite a backlog, but officers were working to clear that up. He said the situation was peaceful and there were no incidents to report.

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The Ontario Provincial Police closed a portion of Highway 402 leading to the border crossing between Sarnia and Port Huron, Michigan, as a safety precaution due to pedestrians on the highway near a convoy of trucks and critics.

Ontario’s Solicitor General praised the way police handled thousands of protesters in Toronto, but noted in a statement that Ottawa police “continue to express concerns about their ability to handle the ongoing occupation in his city”.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also weighed in, saying the province had backed Ottawa during the nine-day protests that critics have called an occupation.

“While we cannot direct the police, we have provided the City of Ottawa with everything they have asked for and will continue to provide all the support they request,” Ford said in a tweet.

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The occupation and protests by truckers continued in Ottawa on Sunday.  This trucker was given three tickets by the police on Elgin Street.
The occupation and protests by truckers continued in Ottawa on Sunday. This trucker was given three tickets by the police on Elgin Street. Photo by TONY CALDWELL/Postmedia

A wave of 250 RCMP officers reinforced the police presence in Ottawa on Sunday. Ottawa police say more than 450 tickets have been issued to protesters since Saturday morning for excessive noise, violating red lights, driving a vehicle on a sidewalk and setting off fireworks, among other things.

Nearly 100 criminal investigations were underway, including cross-border investigations into what Ottawa police called “e-mail threats against public officials.”

Police also said Sunday that anyone trying to deliver items like gasoline or supplies to protesters and 500 downtown vehicles could be arrested.

Horns continued to blare through much of downtown on Sunday, mingled with the rumble of the semi-finals and cries of freedom. Protesters lined up in tents on city streets where hot meals and drinks were handed out.

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  1. Truckers and supporters talk to police liaison officers as they continue to protest against COVID-19 warrants, February 4, 2022. Over the weekend, convoy organizers hosted a disgruntled corporal from the RCMP in their ranks.

    Ottawa: Protest battle lines harden on both sides as chances for a peaceful end fade

  2. People crowd around trucks on the corner of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road just north of Queen's Park during Saturday's protest.

    Toronto: Here’s what the truckers’ protest on city streets looked like on Saturday

Organizers had said they planned to keep the horn quiet for Sunday prayers, but that faded early in the morning.

As trucks snaked through tight intersections, the doors of several downtown churches were closed. Like the Anglican Cathedral, the nearby St. Patrick’s Basilica took the decision on Friday to close due to the risk of civil unrest.

Let the people who need to take care of it, support them and look out for each other

Beth Bretzlaff, Rector of Christ Church

Online services have fueled all the spiritual needs of a city whose elected officials have expressed frustration with the way things have gone amid warnings from the police chief that the situation will not end anytime soon .

Sometimes what’s needed is a bit of faith in good governance, good policing and people’s accountability, Bretzlaff said.

“Let’s leave the people who have to deal with this, let’s support them and look out for each other,” said Bretzlaff, whose title is the Very Reverend but often goes by “Dean Beth.”

The doors to the church remained closed all week, and staff inside politely refused to let protesters inside to use the restroom. Bretzlaff said the church even got a call from the United States with someone asking the clergy to come out and pray with the truckers.

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