The mayor of Ottawa, Canada, declared a state of emergency on Sunday in response to Freedom Convoy truckers who have refused to the leave the capital city until the Canadian government lifts all COVID-19 mandates and restrictions.
“Declaring a state emergency reflects the serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents posed by the ongoing demonstrations and highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government,” Mayor Jim Watson said in a statement.
Watson did not provide details on what measures the government would take, but CTV News reported the same day that the city had arrested “several people” for bringing material goods, like gasoline, to the Freedom Convoy demonstrators.
Deputy Chief Steve Bell told CTV that the city is going to “limit things moving in and out of the protest area.”
“We’ve really focused and targeted on removing the access of gasoline to the area and we’ve had several seizures and several arrests related to that,” Bell said.
Also on Sunday, Ottawa Police tweeted, “Anyone attempting to bring material supports to the demonstrators could be subject to arrest. Enforcement is underway.”
Watson told the Canadian radio stations CFRA that the city is “out of control” and that the demonstrators were “insensitively…blaring horns and sirens, [setting off] fireworks and turning it into a party.”
“Clearly, we are outnumbered and we are losing this battle,” he said, adding, “This has to be reversed — we have to get our city back.”
Canadian Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the Canadian government has no plan to work with the determined anti-vaccine mandate protesters, claiming that “the vast majority of Canadians” support the government’s approach.
“We put the question of vaccines and vaccine mandates on the ballot … in the (2021) election and we’re simply carrying out the promise that we made with the support of the vast majority of Canadians,” Mendicino said.
According to the New York Post, one woman who drove hours to join the Freedom Convoy said the demonstration was “about our freedom.”
“A couple of people we know, friends, lost their jobs because of these mandates,” Kimberly Ball told Agence France-Presse. Ball also said she was concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine’s efficacy and safety.
Last week, Ottawa Chief of Police Peter Sloly threatened to call in the Canadian Armed Forces to control the Freedom Convoy, claiming the protest is “a national issue.”
“I am increasingly concerned there is no policing solution to this,” he added.
On Friday, former President Donald Trump issued a statement praising the Freedom Convoy peacefully protesting in Canada, and said that a convoy of American truckers is “thankfully” planning to travel to Washington, D.C., to protest President Joe Biden’s coronavirus restrictions, as well.