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Police begin arresting 'Freedom Convoy' protesters in Canadian capital

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Police begin arresting 'Freedom Convoy' protesters in Canadian capital
A trucker shouts slogans during the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa, Canada, on Thursday. Police said they began arresting demonstrators late Thursday, including two of the movement's organizers. Photo by Amru Salahuddien/EPA-EFE

Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Canadian authorities began arresting protesters in Ottawa early Friday who were involved in the "Freedom Convoy" demonstrations, including two of the main organizers.

The convoy protests have been going for three weeks and are motivated by COVID-19 mandates. They initially involved mainly truckers, but grew as other dissenting civilians joined the movement. For a week, the protests closed the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit.

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Police began rounding up some of the protesters late Thursday and early Friday, including Tamara Lich and Chris Barber. Lich is the leader of the Freedom Convoy. Police said that she was arrested on charges of "counseling to commit the offense of mischief." She was scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

Police said that Barber was arrested on charges of counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to commit the offense of obstructing police.

The convoy protests clogged traffic on and near the Ambassador Bridge, which connects the United States and Canada and is a major trade artery between the two countries. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE
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"It's time to go," interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said in a message to protesters, according to The Washington Post. "Your time in our city has come to an end and you must leave."

As police moved to end the protests, they established a core secure area in the Canadian capital and arrested demonstrators on Parliament Hill Thursday night as hundreds continued to ignore demands that they leave.

Authorities said that only residents, workers and police are allowed in the core secure area, which includes 100 control checkpoints.

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

The convoy protests began out of opposition to COVID-19 rules, including vaccine requirements for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border.

Police began distributing written notices on Wednesday advising protesters to leave and stop blocking streets, warning that they would be arrested if they didn't disperse.

RELATED French police tear gas 'Freedom Convoy' protesters in Paris

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