Counter-protesters gather in the city center with a message for the freedom convoy: ‘please go home’

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At one point, a small group of pro-convoy protesters wearing “Canada First” caps approached the counter-protesters. Despite the brief confrontation, things remained calm.

A group of counter-protesters gathered outside Ottawa City Hall to express their growing displeasure with the ‘freedom convoy’ anti-vaccine protest which entered its second week of traffic jams and honking incessant in the nation’s capital.

About 200 anti-convoy protesters – mostly Ottawa residents frustrated by the presence of truckers in their city – gathered on Laurier Avenue on Saturday February 5 despite police and other groups asking people to stay away. away from the city center.

They were holding signs like “Go Home Please” and “Take Back Our City.” They also chanted “All those truckers gotta go!” and “Whose city? Our city!” at various times in the afternoon.

People told CityNews they walked out because they were tired of all the noise.

“At first, I had some sympathy for their cause, getting rid of the warrants. I was fine with that. But it became something different,” a counter-protester said.

Another added: ‘What worries me the most is that as a ByWard Market resident I am being told not to go out in my own neighborhood.

Across the street were pro-convoy protesters with occasional shouts of “Freedom!” A line of about 30 police separated them.

At one point, a small group of pro-convoy protesters wearing “Canada First” caps approached the counter-protesters.

Despite the brief confrontation, things remained calm.

Ottawa police expected up to 400 more trucks and up to 2,000 people on foot to arrive this weekend to join the protest which has been renamed by critics, including many residents frustrated downtown, like an occupation.

Thousands of people gathered near Parliament Hill, including two protesters on horseback who drew a lot of attention as the second week of protests against vaccination mandates and the government of Justin Trudeau began.

One of the mounted protesters waved a Canadian flag. The other, who wore a cowboy hat, carried a red “Trump 2024” flag in support of the former US president.

Residents of downtown Ottawa endured a week of truck horns and blocked streets. On some occasions, residents have reported racial assaults and taunts from attendees.

Many townspeople have expressed frustration that little has changed a week after the protest began.

The battle to end the row with protesters opposed to vaccines and other restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 moved to the legal arena on Saturday.

Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ appeared in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to argue a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of downtown Ottawa residents.

The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars in damages and an injunction “resting the continuation of the nuisance.”

Champ appeared at an online hearing on behalf of the proposed members of the action – all people who reside in Ottawa from Bay Street to Elgin Street and Lisgar Street to Wellington Street.

The statement said people suffered injuries and damages for emotional and mental distress, difficulty concentrating, interference with the quiet enjoyment of the home, headaches and trouble sleeping.

On Friday, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly pledged to “do better” and promised an “increase” of 150 more officers to patrol the protest.

But more residents again expressed frustration with the police and the city on Saturday, including city councilors.

Com. Catherine McKenney of Somerset Ward wants the federal government to take “operational control” of the Parliamentary Precinct, which would allow Ottawa police to focus their efforts on Ottawa neighborhoods.

“This will allow the Ottawa Police to focus on protecting our neighborhoods, residents and businesses from the violent and intimidating acts of harassment, destruction and noise we are experiencing now, every day,” McKenney tweeted.

A number of rallies were held across Canada on Saturday in solidarity with those who camped out in Ottawa.

Demonstrations were planned in cities including Toronto, Quebec, Fredericton, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, among others.

Several thousand demonstrators gathered near the Legislative Assembly of Quebec to protest against public health measures.

Dozens of trucks parked near the National Assembly, with some attendees touting signs depicting Prime Minister Francois Legault as former North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and others offering “free hugs” from residents who claim to be unvaccinated.

In Toronto, police say they arrested a 22-year-old man for allegedly lighting a smoke bomb during a protest in Queen’s Park. The man faces one count of assault with a weapon, administering a noxious substance and public mischief.

In Alberta, protesters on horseback joined a truck blockade on a southern Alberta highway near the US border crossing at Coutts.

—With files from The Canadian Press

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