Ottawa [Canada]: Canada looks to end COVID-19 protests with tougher financial measures after another weekend of arrests.
Canadian authorities on Sunday froze the finances associated with certain individuals and companies believed to be involved in the ongoing protests in Ottawa, according to Mike Duheme, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) deputy commissioner of federal policing, reported CNN.
The RCMP froze 206 financial products, including bank and corporate accounts; disclosed the information of 56 entities associated with vehicles, individuals and companies; shared 253 bitcoin addresses with virtual currency exchangers; and froze a payment processing account valued at $3.8 million, Duheme said at a news conference.
“We continue to work at collecting relevant information on persons, vehicles and companies and remain in daily communication with the financial institution to assist them,” Duheme said.
A weeks-long blockade in the Canadian capital has led to almost 200 arrests and prolonged suffering for businesses caught in the middle of protests against COVID-19 mandates.
Police said they employed pepper spray and escalated tactics over the weekend to disperse crowds and make arrests with protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building, reported CNN.
Some of those arrests included protesters who allegedly had smoke grenades and fireworks, and were wearing body armour, police said.
Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit is also reviewing an incident where a woman was reportedly seriously injured after an interaction with a police officer on a horse, and a second where an officer discharged a less-than-lethal firearm at protesters.
Ottawa Interim Police Chief Steve Bell told a news conference Sunday police operations had seen a dramatic decline in the number of protesters, reported CNN.
Bell said 191 protesters had been arrested and 107 people charged. Charges included obstructing police, disobeying a court order, assault, mischief, possessing a weapon and assaulting a police officer, he said.
Chris Harkins, deputy commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police reported at the news conference 76 vehicles had been seized and towed, reported CNN.
The Ottawa protests were started in late January by a group of truck drivers opposed to a COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate.
But others outside the trucking industry have joined to express their frustration with an array of other COVID-19 health measures, such as requirements to wear masks in schools.
Officials vowed to end the protests through unprecedented protocols, including the Emergencies Act. The law allows the Canadian government to tap into military forces. (ANI)