‘Several’ investigations underway after monuments defaced during Ottawa trucker rally: police

Click to play video: 'Trucker convoy: Protesters gather on Tomb of Unknown Soldier, spark outrage'
Trucker convoy: Protesters gather on Tomb of Unknown Soldier, spark outrage
WATCH: Trucker convoy: Protesters gather on Tomb of Unknown Soldier, spark outrage – Jan 30, 2022

Ottawa police say “several criminal investigations” are underway after Canadian monuments in the city were defaced during a day of protests opposing COVID-19 measures on Parliament Hill on Saturday.

In a series of tweets Sunday morning, Ottawa police said the investigations are related to “the desecration” of the National War Memorial, the Terry Fox statue and in regards to threatening, illegal and intimidating behaviour towards police and other city workers.

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Officers said they have also launched an investigation into damage done to a city vehicle.

“Illegal behaviour will not be tolerated and will be fully investigated,” the tweet reads.

The force said it has “investigative and evidence-gathering teams” in place to “support the management of the demonstration.

Police said reports will not be accepted through social media.

Click to play video: 'Trucker convoy: Ottawa protests continue for 2nd day'
Trucker convoy: Ottawa protests continue for 2nd day

“Incidents must be reported to police,” the tweet reads.

On Saturday, protesters from across Canada converged on Parliament Hill.

The demonstration was initially aimed at denouncing vaccine mandates for truck drivers crossing the Canada-U.S. border, but the movement has morphed into a protest against a variety of COVID-19 restrictions and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta legislature grounds flooded with people supporting Ottawa trucker convoy'
Alberta legislature grounds flooded with people supporting Ottawa trucker convoy

In a press release on Sunday, Ottawa police said large crowds remained in the city’s downtown core throughout Saturday night and were “actively managed” by police.

“Officers encountered several challenges with demonstrators, including sporadic road blockages by trucks, which officers worked to clear,” the release read.

“These high-risk situations were de-escalated and resolved with no arrests.”

According to police, officers are patrolling throughout the downtown core and are “managing the movement of protestors and trucks.”

“The OPS and our partners continue to focus on keeping the peace in and around the demonstrations and maintaining emergency access lanes while addressing any threatening high-risk behaviour.”

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The force said there is a large police presence at all large demonstration locations.

“National monuments will be protected and should be respected by all,” the release reads. “Barricades are installed to block any vehicular access to the path in front of the National War Memorial.”

Officers urged the public not to travel to the city’s downtown core.

Officials denounce defacing of monuments

In a tweet on Saturday replying to a photo of the Terry Fox statue, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he has asked city bylaw enforcement to have the placard and upside-down Canadian flag taken down, calling it “completely unacceptable.”

“This kind of stunt by protesters does not help their cause,” he wrote.

Brad West, the Mayor of Port Coquitlam, B.C., where Fox was from, called him a “national inspiration and a unifier.”

“Whatever your cause, you don’t get to appropriate his legacy and you don’t touch his statue. Ever. This should be removed immediately,” he said.

In a tweet Saturday, the Terry Fox Foundation said Fox “believed in science and gave his life to help others.”

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“Thank you to all of our supporters who help us work toward realizing Terry’s dream of a world without cancer,” the tweet read.

What’s more, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre said he was “sickened to see protesters dance on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrate the National War Memorial.”

“Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this,” he wrote on Twitter. “Those involved should hang their heads in shame.”

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In a tweet on Sunday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was “built to remember and honour those who dedicated their lives in service for Canadians.

“Not to desecrate and urinate on,” he wrote. “Claiming to be fighting for freedom while disrespecting those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom is despicable.”

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said those “desecrating these memorials should be ashamed and their behavior undermines the brave Canadians who sacrificed for our country.”

“I support the right to peacefully protest but that should not be confused with blatant disrespect for the men and women who have served, inspired and protected our country,” he wrote on Twitter.

Canada’s Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand said she takes “very seriously the fundamental values of our country.”

“I believe that we must show respect at all times to those who fought and died for Canada,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am deeply disturbed by the actions of disrespect we have witnessed.”

— with a file from The Canadian Press

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