Ottawa police begin arresting Canadian truckers for blocking traffic in protest

Police stand guard in the capital as protesters are arrested  (Reuters)
Police stand guard in the capital as protesters are arrested (Reuters)

Ottawa police say they have begun arresting truckers who have immobilised traffic for three weeks in protest against Canada’s Covid-19 restrictions.

The capital’s police force took to Twitter on Friday morning to announce that some protesters are surrendering and being arrested outside Parliament Hill, where hundreds of truckers are camping out.

Follow live updates on the Canadian trucker convoy

“There is a large police presence on Nicholas Street, protesters are being advised to leave immediately. Some protesters are surrendering and are being arrested. We ask protesters to remain peaceful and lawful,” the tweet read.

The action comes after two of the protest’s leaders, Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, were arrested late on Thursday night and much of the downtown area was sealed off.

The capital represents the self-styled Freedom Convoy’s last stronghold after weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the US and caused economic harm to both countries.

Many of the truckers have vowed not to leave even if it means being jailed or losing their licences under Canada’s Emergencies Act.

Police activity around Parliament Hill has ramped up dramatically this week, with fences erected outside the parliament as the protesters braced for a possible crackdown.

Officers were handing out leaflets warning the truckers to leave immediately or face arrest and other sanctions on Wednesday, but many appeared unfazed.

Protest leader Pat King sent a defiant message on Thursday morning, saying: “There’s no tow trucks in Canada that will touch them.”

“We want the mandates over for the whole the country. End the mandates.”

But Ottawa’s interim police chief, Steve Bell, made clear that the crackdown was coming on Thursday, saying: “Action is imminent.”

Mr Bell took the post after chief Peter Sloly resigned earlier this week amid criticism over his handling of the protests.

Associated Press contributed to this report