It’s Day 5 of the Anti-Vax Truckers Convoy and There’s Only Been 2 Arrests

Anti-vax truckers continue to harass locals and block the U.S.-Canada border, and police aren’t doing much to stop them.

Feb 2 2022, 6:38pm

The anti-mandate “trucker” convoys that have clogged up roads in Ottawa and shut down a chunk of the U.S.-Canada border are still occupying neighbourhoods on Day Five of demonstrations, and onlookers are criticizing police for doing too little to stop them. 

On Tuesday, Ottawa police announced two people have been arrested and charged—one with mischief, the other with weapon possession—in relation to the ongoing demonstrations in Canada’s capital. While some of the crowds have thinned, many protesters are holding firm with an estimated 250 still on site, according to police. Some demonstrators have repeatedly said they’ll stay on site until the federal government puts an end to COVID mandates, even though most are actually set by provinces. 

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The self-proclaimed “freedom fighters” have pooped at people’s doorsteps, hoisted swastikas, and flown Confederate flags. They’ve also honked incessantly and made it near impossible for locals, especially differently abled people, to get around the city. 

Locals say they’re too scared to leave their homes, and one resident told CBC that the noise caused by the demonstrators is making it impossible for her to sleep. 

Ottawa police say they’re currently working on 13 investigations and eight hotline complaints related to the event. Their work is costing the city $800,000 per day. 

Grassroots crisis support lines have also popped up, while some folks have turned to social media to share their experiences.

“As a blind woman living in downtown Ottawa right now, the noise is making it unsafe to leave my home. I rely on sounds and audio cues when traveling, and when people are honking and screaming I could seriously get hurt,” an Ottawa resident tweeted. “Go home, you’re done. Let me go on with my day safely, please.”

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When asked for comment, Ottawa police directed VICE World News to a press release that says, “We want to be very clear, both for the current demonstrations and any planned demonstrations: Illegal activity will not be tolerated.” 

They did not respond directly to criticisms. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has also said that forcing the truckers to leave the city could incite violence

“On a very general level, there’s a really big contrast between this protest and most protests in Ottawa,” Carleton criminology professor Jeffrey Monaghan told CBC News. He referred to police action as “disorganized” and “somewhat surprising,” and said the cops are handling the group with “really soft hands.” 

The convoy started out as a nationwide protest against vaccine regulations between the U.S. and Canada that make it mandatory for truckers crossing the border to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The demonstrations—made up of thousands—have since devolved into a catch-all movement fighting all COVID-related health restrictions, as well as general discontent with federal politics, especially Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Anti-vax truckers continue to block the highway at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alberta, Wednesday. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Demonstrations in the 250-person village of Coutts, Alberta, near the Montana-Alberta border, RCMP announced on Wednesday they were moving in to break up the “unlawful blockade.” So far, no arrests have been reported, but an officer was assaulted on site, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said. 

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Curtis Peters told CTV News that when officers first moved in, some of the demonstrators chose to leave, but then more showed up. 

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In Alberta, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act makes it illegal to impede access to “critical infrastructure,” including highways. Fully vaxxed truckers as well as others are still stranded on either side of the Alberta-Montana border. They say the “trucker” convoy doesn’t represent them and is making it difficult for them to do their jobs. 

Alberta RCMP did not respond to VICE World News request for updates by the time of publication. 

People have repeatedly pointed out the stark difference between police tactics employed at the trucker convoys, largely made up of white people, and other acts of civil disobedience across Canada—especially those led by Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, as well as houseless folks. 

At the Indigenous-led movement to protect old growth trees at Fairy Creek, RCMP officers are notorious for their brutality and about 1,200 people have been arrested. At Wet’suwet’en, Indigenous land defenders have faced police raids every year for three years. In 2020, 12 people were charged with mischief while at a Ottawa march in support of Black and Indigenous people. Last summer, Toronto cops beat and pepper-sprayed houseless people while tearing down an encampment at a public park. Afterwards, they said they did a “tremendous job.”

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Tagged:

anti-vax, truckers, Canadian News, worldnews, world coronavirus, trucker convoy

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