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Canadian truckers descend on cities for second weekend of COVID-19 protests

A crowd of protesters part of the Freedom Convoy 2022 gathers in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29 as they protest against the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Freedom Convoy 2022 started with truckers from across Canada who oppose the vaccine mandate for truckers to be vaccinated to return to Canada. Photo by Andre Pichette/EPA-EFE
A crowd of protesters part of the Freedom Convoy 2022 gathers in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 29 as they protest against the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Freedom Convoy 2022 started with truckers from across Canada who oppose the vaccine mandate for truckers to be vaccinated to return to Canada. Photo by Andre Pichette/EPA-EFE

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Canadian truckers have descended on Ottawa and other cities for the second weekend of protests against the country's COVID-19 restrictions and mandates.

Police officials in Ottawa said that they expected about 400 more trucks to arrive in the city and join the truckers who had flooded the city last weekend, the CBC reported.

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Officials were prepared for the protests to turn violent after the police department condemned "the hatred, violence, and illegal acts that Ottawa residents and businesses have endured over the last week" in a message posted to Twitter.

On Friday, GoFundMe froze fundraising campaigns for the trucker convoys at the request of Canadian law enforcement who had said that the protesters had become violent and unlawful.

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"We want to thank GoFundMe for listening to our concerns as a city and a police service. The decision to withhold funding for these unlawful demonstrations is an important step and we call on all crowdfunding sites to follow," Ottawa police said on Twitter.

GoFundMe said it would distribute any unclaimed donations to a charity chosen by the Freedom Convoy group -- prompting harsh criticism and calls for fraud investigations by Republicans in the United States.

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The protests, which have disrupted traffic and shuttered businesses across the country, have prompted some counter-protests and high tensions despite urges from officials not to conduct demonstrations against the trucker convoys, the CBC reported.

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In Manitoba, a man drove his white Jeep through a crowd of protesters gathered on the grounds of a legislative building and reportedly injured three of the protesters, video footage posted to Twitter shows.

Ottawa police said on Twitter in the late afternoon on Saturday that police responded to more than 400 calls for service and that its hate crime hotline alone received more than 150 calls.

"In total, over 50 criminal offenses are being investigated -- 11 of those were hate crimes which resulted in charges against four people," the department said. "All available officers have been deployed."

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family were moved to an undisclosed location as the truckers arrived in the nation's capital after the sergeant-at-arms of the Canadian Parliament warned that protesters might show up at the homes of politicians.

However, The New York Times reported on Saturday that the weekend protests had "remained mostly peaceful and festive" with bands performing music in the streets and inflatable bouncy castles for children.

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