Trucker anti-vax-mandate Ottawa protest organizers get a reality check

Pat King, one of the leading figures behind an antigovernment protest on Parliament Hill is set to appear in court today to face charges related to his role in the demonstration.

Ottawa police say King, 44, faces charges of mischief, counseling to commit mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order and counseling to obstruct police.

King livestreamed his own arrest on Facebook Friday.

Police say King, who hails from Red Deer, Alta., will appear in court today.

King is among the more than 100 people police say they have arrested as part of a massive police operation to clear demonstrators who have been blockading Parliament Hill for nearly four weeks.

Two other protest organizers — Chris Barber and Tamara Lich — were arrested earlier on charges of counseling to commit mischief. Barber also faces charges of counseling to disobey a court order and obstructing police.

An Ontario Court granted Barber bail and Lich is set to appear in an Ottawa courtroom Saturday for a bail hearing.

Justice Julie Bourgeois released Barber on a $100,000 bond and on the conditions he left Ontario by next Wednesday and did not publicly endorse the convoy or have any contact with the other major protest organizers.

King, Lich and other organizers of the so-called ‘Freedom Convoy’ 2022 protests also saw a temporary freeze to their bank accounts — including Bitcoin and cryptocurrency funds — following an Ontario Superior Court ruling on Thursday.

Police say so far at least 21 vehicles were towed Friday as hundreds of officers — some of them on horseback — fanned out across the area to take back the streets from the hundreds of big rigs and trucks that have been idling there for weeks.

King, Lich to appear in court as #Ottawa police keep clearing anti-mandate protesters. #CDNPoli #Covid19 #TruckerConvoy2022

The well-coordinated police action began peacefully Friday, but as the day wore on tensions escalated with the police accusing protesters of assaulting officers, trying to take their weapons, and in one case throwing a bicycle at a police horse. Some protesters claimed they were assaulted by officers.

Ottawa police interim chief Steve Bell told a Friday evening news conference that clearing the area would take time, but the operation was “deliberate and methodical” and police were in control on the ground.

He said no serious injuries had been reported, and those arrested had been charged with various offenses including mischief, adding that police were still urging demonstrators to leave peacefully.

Meanwhile, inside the House of Commons today MPs will summarize debate on the use of the Emergencies Act to respond to the illegal blockades. The debate began on Thursday but Government House leader Mark Holland said in a Twitter post that House leaders from all parties agreed to cancel Friday’s session on the advice of parliamentary security.

Holland said MPs will vote early next week on the Emergencies Act motion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb.19, 2022.

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