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Video: Trucker protest in Ottawa escalates as police clash with Freedom Convoy demonstrators, 150 arrested as authorities retake Parliament Hill area
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Video: Trucker protest in Ottawa escalates as police clash with Freedom Convoy demonstrators, 150 arrested as authorities retake Parliament Hill area

The Freedom Convoy protests have been happening in Ottawa for three weeks, but clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators escalated on Friday and into Saturday.

The Ottawa Police Department said on Friday, "Protesters are assaulting officers, have attempted to remove officer’s weapons. All means of de-escalation have been used to move forward in our goal of returning Ottawa to its normalcy."

The Ottawa Police added, "The protesters continued their assaultive behavior with the police line, to prevent an escalation or further injury, mounted officers were sent in to create critical space between the police line and protesters. This is done to create a safe distance."

However, mounted police charged into a crowd of demonstrators on Friday, knocking down at least two people, including an elderly woman on a mobility scooter.

The Ottawa Police claimed that "no one has been seriously injured or passed away in any of today's police actions." One officer reportedly had a minor injury.

Early Friday night, the Ottawa Police announced that it had arrested over 100 people and towed 21 vehicles.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday, "There are indications we are now starting to see progress."

Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell added, "We're in control of the situation on the ground and continue to push forward to clear our streets. We will work day and night until this is completed."

On Saturday morning, the Ottawa Police said its officers would be using helmets and batons.

PROTESTORS: We told you to leave. We gave you time to leave. We were slow and methodical, yet you were assaultive and aggressive with officers and the horses. Based on your behaviour, we are responding by including helmets and batons for our safety.

By noon, the Ottawa and Gatineau Police closed the Chaudières Bridge to "prevent an influx of protesters into Ottawa for everyone's safety." The Chaudière Bridge crosses the Ottawa River about half of a mile west of Parliament Hill.

According to the Associated Press, police "aggressively pushed back protesters" and retook the streets in front of Canada's Parliament building from the Freedom Convoy protesters.

As the protesters were being driven away from Parliament Hill, demonstrators sang, "O' Canada."

CTV anchor Graham Richardson said authorities had retaken Wellington Street and the area surrounding Parliament Hill by noon.

Ottawa Police admitted that they used "a chemical irritant in an effort to stop the assaultive behavior and for officer safety."

On Saturday, the New York Times reported, "Canadian police officers advanced on demonstrators at gunpoint, smashing truck windows and arresting protesters in front of the country’s Parliament building, an aggressive escalation in the government's effort to finally end the protests that have roiled the nation’s capital for three weeks."

The New York Times acknowledged that the trucker protest has been overwhelmingly peaceful, "The protests had been by and large nonviolent, evoking the atmosphere of a carnival. But they ensnarled traffic across the capital, disrupted business, and annoyed residents with incessant honking. Organizers inflated bouncy castles in the street, and people brought small children and dogs. D.J.s spun music from flatbed trucks-turned stages. At one point people soaked in a hot tub erected in front of the Parliament building."

By 1 p.m., Ottawa Police said that they had arrested 47 on Saturday and towed 38 vehicles.

The major crackdown of the protest occurred after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act earlier this week, which enabled law enforcement to set up a secure zone with roughly 100 checkpoints, suspend driver's licenses, and freeze bank accounts of protesters.

On Thursday, police arrested key leaders of the Freedom Convoy – Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.

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