Canada protests: Police surround demonstrators in Ottawa
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Canadian police appeared to trample civilians with horses as the long-awaited operation to break up the trucker blockade in Ottawa turned violent. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s anticipated crackdown on the truckers finally went ahead on Friday as police moved in to disperse the protesters and break up the camp. By the end of the day, more than 100 protesters had been arrested while over two dozen vehicles had been towed.
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However, in one disturbing development, footage emerged of police-mounted horses appearing to trample protesters during a melee.
A video posted to Twitter by one of the protesters appeared to show Ottawa Police officers making their way through a crowd and trampling over two people with their horses.
The crowd swiftly moves in to help up the two people, while the person filming the encounter can be heard saying: “They just trampled that lady. They just fully trampled that lady.”
A spokesperson for the Ottawa Police Department later addressed the video, which has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.
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They told Newsweek: “We are not aware of any protesters being trampled by horses. We understand that one protestor fell, got up and walked away.”
Instead, the police accused the protesters of instigating the chaos, alleging that a bicycle was thrown at the feet of one of the horses in an attempt to injure it.
One person was later arrested for allegedly intentionally harming a police service animal.
The Ottawa Police also tweeted about the use of mounted police officers: “The protesters continued their assaultive behaviour with the police line, to prevent an escalation or further injury, mounted officers were sent in to create critical space between the police line and protesters.”
At one point during the tense clean-up operation, Ottawa police claim protesters assaulted officers and tried to remove their weapons.
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Another confrontation saw officers smash the window of one truck to pull the trucker out and arrest him.
The violent confrontation between police and protesters comes just days after Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to stop the truck blockades.
The Emergencies Act – which is being invoked for the first time since it passed in 1988 – can provide for the use of the military.
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The police operation forced Canada’s House of Commons to suspend its debate on Friday around the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act.
The so-called Canadian Freedom Convoy originally began as a protest against the country’s vaccine mandate in January that required all truckers who cross the US – Canadian border to be fully vaccinated.
Ottawa Interim Police Chief Steve Bell has vowed the protest would come to an end over the weekend.
However, dozens of protesters remain camped outside the Parliament building in freezing temperatures.
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