(Ottawa) The protests staged in Ottawa over the weekend that caused only minimal disruption were a far cry from the “Freedom Convoy” protests that occupied downtown streets for three more weeks. early this year.
These protests have seen vehicles block streets as well as the installation of a loudspeaker platform on Wellington Street opposite Parliament Hill, as protests over the past weekend have resulted in measures such as security checks to visit the hill and a ban on traffic in the area.
A few hundred people marched downtown to voice their opposition to the federal government and public health restrictions, while thousands poured into the streets of Ottawa during the winter.
Western University sociology department chair Howard Ramos said the context for last weekend’s protest was different, whereas over the winter there was a “perfect storm of ‘amplifications’, including Tory MPs, people on social media and mainstream media coverage.
Ramos said the Ottawa Police Service and House Security have learned lessons from the winter protests, as evidenced by the fact that vehicles have not been able to get as close to Parliament as they have done in the past.
Catherine McKenney, who sits on Somerset Ward City Council said in an interview that last weekend was unique as it was Canada Day so the City was not just expecting to see protesters, but also knew that thousands of people would enjoy the party.
“So the threat of any kind of confrontation was of great concern to me, to my colleagues enormously concerned,” Catherine McKenney said.
By-law officers issuing tickets were also key to maintaining order, Catherine McKenney said, since people are not allowed to set up tents, loudspeakers or structures without a permit. .
“The response (from the police) around these aspects was essential to ensure that we did not have midnight concerts on Wellington Street, that we did not have stages set up, and not even tables set up where it there was this central point to gather, ”said Catherine McKenney.
Increased police presence
Reactions from residents were generally positive, but the large number of armed police surprised people a bit, McKenney said. “We’re just not used to it. »
A balance must be found between community safety and increased police presence, says Catherine McKenney. This contrasts with February when residents were “begging” the police to enter residential neighborhoods that were “essentially lawless”, and as the movement around the “Freedom Convoy” began to dissipate somewhat.
Asked what Ottawa police thought they did differently this time around, the service pointed to acting police chief Steve Bell’s June 27 speaking notes in a statement.
Police had gathered intelligence, spoken to organizers and observed online comments, he said, adding that the service had adopted “an improved and expanded posture” that began well before the holiday. Canada and extended “long after” to ensure he was properly protecting the city.
“Robust police planning, deployment and response met the challenges posed by this major event and the protests,” a police spokesperson said. No cost estimate for policing over the weekend is yet available.
The City of Ottawa worked closely with the Ottawa Police and other policing partners in implementing a public safety plan, which included traffic management and enforcement of all bylaws applicable municipal authorities, Kim Ayotte, the city’s general manager of emergency and protective services, said in a statement.
The City also communicated with residents through various channels leading up to and over the Canada Day weekend, Ms.me Ayotte.
The situation is reminiscent of the handling of the “Rolling Thunder” demonstration at the end of April, when the Ottawa police called in more than 800 reinforcements from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other police forces to assist him, including blocking freeway exits and downtown streets to prevent an encampment from forming. This event cost the police between $2.5 and $3 million.
This dispatch was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta Exchanges and The Canadian Press for the news.