Police officers cleared out the central area of a sprawling demonstration in Ottawa, moving from truck to truck on Saturday and arresting protesters as they continued to subdue the occupation that has disrupted the Canadian capital for weeks. Police advanced on trucks parked on Wellington Street, the thoroughfare in front of the Parliament building, drawing guns on some vehicles and banging on doors as they searched for any people inside. They arrested several as demonstrators shouted “Shame on you!” from nearby. In the heart of the main encampment, the police pushed people back with batons and irritant spray and made more arrests.
The operation appeared to be a final move in the government’s effort to break up the occupation. In recent weeks, the demonstrations, which began with truckers rallying against vaccine mandates, have attracted protesters airing grievances about pandemic restrictions, claims of government overreach and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stewardship. The Ottawa Police said that as of Saturday evening, 170 people had been arrested and that 46 vehicles had been removed. The protest was not completely disbanded. As police pushed demonstrators away from Parliament, some congregated on side streets while police warned that there were children in the crowd. “We are seeing young children being brought to the front of the police operation,” the Ottawa police said on Twitter. “This is dangerous and it is putting the children at risk.” Protests had blocked traffic on major streets, disrupted business and tormented residents with honking. Demonstrators condemned the show of force against their occupation. “It’s horrific,” said Dagny Pawlak, a spokeswoman for the truckers.. “A dark moment in Canadian history.”