As bikers plan to occupy Ottawa’s capital in another convoy, the city’s interim police chief is issuing a warning to protesters.
Ahead of a planned demonstration, Ottawa’s police chief Steve Bell says they will not tolerate any kind of long-term occupation of the capital.
Bell issued the warning earlier on Thursday as hundreds of bikers plan to join the organizers of the “Rolling Thunder” convoy in storming the city’s streets and staging several rallies on Parliament Hill beginning Friday.
Ottawa police report that at least 500 motorcyclists are expected to participate in the weekend-long event, though rally organizers have said the actual number could exceed 1,000. The Rolling Thunder group has not made their cause clear, only saying that they will descend upon the nation’s capital to “peacefully celebrate our freedom.”
The protest come just four months after the infamous “Freedom Convoy” staged a months-long blockade of Ottawa’s downtown core.
The Rolling Thunder Ottawa website claims it is partnered with the groups Veterans for Freedom and Freedom Fighters Canada, both of which reportedly have ties to the Freedom Convoy.
According to Bell, Rolling Thunder’s organizers have said they plan to remain in the capital until Sunday. The police chief warns that if there are plans for a longer stay or signs of encampments, officers are ready to act.
Ottawa residents are keeping their guard up after the Freedom Convoy occupied the capital for much longer than expected earlier this year. The Freedom Convoy was put to an end once officers began arresting and detaining dozens of people who took part in the protest.
Bell says that officers have learned from that experience and Ottawa police are ready to arrest any Freedom Convoy protesters who have been ordered by the courts to keep away from the city as a condition of their release.
The chief also says the police force is “considerably concerned” that not all members of the convoy will follow the organizer’s plans, and are preparing for the chance that protesters will attempt to settle in the city for days or weeks, as they did in February.