During a Saturday press conference, interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell told reporters that individuals who attended the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa could face criminal charges and financial sanctions.
Bell indicated that even if attendees left the protest and returned home, they might still face consequences for participating in the weeks-long peaceful protest, the Post Millennial reported.
Bell said, “If you are involved with this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges.”
“This investigation will go on for months to come,” Bell added. “It has many, many different streams, both from a federal financial level, from a provincial licensing level, from a criminal code level, from a municipal breach of court order, breach of court injunction level.”
He continued, “It will be a complicated and time-consuming investigation that will go on for a period of time. You have my commitment that the investigation will continue and we will hold people accountable for taking our streets over.”
Last week, Ottawa police began to aggressively clear the city of protesters after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers that enabled the Canadian federal government to override provincial policies and suspend certain civil liberties in the name of “national security.”
Trudeau said, “With each of the illegal blockades, local law enforcement agencies have been acting to keep the peace within their jurisdiction. Despite their efforts, it is now clear there are serious challenges to law enforcement’s ability to effectively enforce the law.”
“After discussing with cabinet and caucus, after consultation with premiers from all provinces and territories, after speaking with opposition leaders, the federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act ton supplement provincial and territorial capacity to address the blockades and occupations,” he added.
Trudeau’s use of these powers marks the first time a Canadian prime minister has invoked the Emergencies Act.
Upon the invocation of the act, the Ottawa police issued citations to protesters and ordered them to leave or they would be arrested.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said that “the federal government has not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act,” in response to the Canadian government’s crackdown on peaceful protest.
The CCLA said that “the Emergencies Act can only be invoked when a situation ‘seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada’ to preserve the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of Canada.’”
Footage from Ottawa, taken as the police began to make arrests and aggressively break up the protests, show police units on horseback knocking protesters to the ground. In the footage, police appear to knock over and trample protesters while mounted on horseback.
The Ottawa police deny that anyone was “seriously injured” as they broke up the protests.