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Ottawa protest gridlock sparks criticism of police as residents demand city back

Police say they have avoided ticketing and towing trucks to avoid confrontations
A person holds their hand to their heart during a singing of O Canada during a rally against COVID-19 restrictions on Parliament Hill, which began as a cross-country convoy protesting a federal vaccine mandate for truckers, in Ottawa on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The ire of Ottawa residents about the downtown paralysis created by a protest against COVID-19 measures is sparking questions concerning the role of police in ensuring public order.

Ottawa police are advising people to avoid the city centre — where trucks from the protest convoy jam roads — forcing many to work or study at home, while some businesses and a vaccine clinic have simply shut their doors.

Police say they have avoided ticketing and towing trucks to avoid confrontations with demonstrators.

The force puts the cost of policing the ongoing protest at more than $800,000 a day.

A Carleton University professor who studies the policing of public demonstrations says the Ottawa force’s response looks highly disorganized and uncertain, indicating a lack of preparedness.

Jeffrey Monaghan says the Ottawa police could defuse the tense situation by allowing protesters to remain but ordering the trucks to clear out of downtown.

—The Canadian Press

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