For nearly a month, truckers from across Canada blocked traffic into the capitol city of Ottawa in protest of government mandated COVID vaccines. The Canadian government eventually invoked the Emergencies Act, a piece of legislation meant to centralize power during times of complete diplomatic upheaval.
Invoking the act led to a unilateral display of force from the government. Also, the government sent in police to bust up the peaceful protest in the name of public safety. Now, three days after the violence, the protesters are speaking out about their experience and the future of the convoy.
Protest participants tell tales of violence and discouragement
“They have to tear gas people out, but Trudeau will have Ottawa back by Monday, I can almost guarantee it,” Daniel, a protester from Windsor, said over the weekend. Many protesters refuse to go on the record with full names because of the bank spying and asset seizures allowed by the Emergencies Act. “I hope it ends good. I hope we end all mandates. That’s all we could ask for. That’s the only reason why all of us are here.”
After three days of increased police presence, the Canadian government arrested 191 protesters and filed 389 charges.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Kelly, another protester, said as police pushed protesters out of the ‘secure zone’ around Parliament. “I feel like the last couple of weeks, it wasn’t as bad as this is now.”
Another woman, Jessica, noted that the police don’t even seem human in their actions. “On our side, it’s just a bunch of love. On the alternate side of things, it’s not so pretty,” she continued. “They won’t really look at you. They won’t speak to you. It is very robotic and inhuman, really.”
Emily, a student in Ottawa, said police choked her in the skirmish. “A cop from in front put his hand out and was pushing me, like choking me, pushing me back. [One tried] to pull me by my hair through to arrest me behind the line,” she said.
However, other protesters tell tales of easy interactions with “nice” police. Per the police department’s own public statement, though, those nice officers will profile, fine, and press charges against you if you participate in the protest.
A journalist was hit with a tear gas canister
Alexa Lavoie, a journalist from Canadian outlet Rebel News and one of the few people speaking out with full identification, said she was assaulted by police in Ottawa. According to Lavoie, she attended the protests daily because she “wanted to see if [the protests] have any violence coming from … the protester, or the police.”
Lavoie alleges she was shot with tear gas at point-blank range. Someone filmed the incident, and Lavoie’s screams are audible.
“It was point-blank,” she said. “It was really next to my legs. And so I fell on the ground because not only my legs were hurting but all the gas from the canister went all over me in my eyes and in my mouth.”