Toronto, Canada, Feb 18 (EFE).- Ottawa police on Friday started arresting anti-vaccine protesters who have been occupying the area around the Canadian parliament in the center of the capital since Jan. 29.
In a statement on Twitter, the police said that there was a large deployment of officers on Nicholas Street, and called on the protesters to leave the site immediately.
Police warned the protesters that those who do not immediately leave the site and remove their vehicles face “severe penalties.”
The House of Commons suspended its session on Friday to avoid potential flare ups during the police operation.
The center of Ottawa remains confined by the police and can only be accessed through one of the checkpoints set up by the authorities to prevent more demonstrators from joining the rally.
On Wednesday, police had already said that the anti-vaccine protesters’ truck blockade in the center of the Canadian capital was “illegal” and warned them that they would be arrested if they did not end the protest.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on Monday invoked the Emergencies Act, which gives the government extraordinary powers to break up the protests which had spread across several border crossings with the United States.
The Emergencies Act allows authorities to seize protest trucks and prosecute those traveling to the capital to join the blockade.
Anti-vaccine protesters can face fines, can lose their driver’s licenses (many of them are truck drivers) and can be banned from crossing the U.S. border.
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned on Tuesday after days of criticism over the force’s inability to control the blockade of more than 400 trucks and hundreds of people opposed to vaccine mandates and other Covid-19 restrictions. EFE