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‘So far, so good’: Ottawa mayor says ‘Rolling Thunder’ rally seems ‘peaceful’

Click to play video: '‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle protest rides into Ottawa' ‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle protest rides into Ottawa
WATCH: Months after a protest convoy paralyzed Ottawa, the nation's capital is bracing for another round of disruptive protests with the "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle rally. Dan Spector explains how police are getting ready, and how some people are planning a counter-protest – Apr 29, 2022

A few arrests were during the “Rolling Thunder” protest in Ottawa’s downtown, Saturday.

Around 12:20 p.m., police announced one person had been arrested “following an incident” on Elgin Street. Police said that investigation is ongoing.

Just before 1 p.m., Ottawa police tweeted to say someone had been arrested in downtown for “breaking their release conditions,” which included a commitment not to be in the city’s downtown.

Police said, in a separate event, a vehicle “drove up on the sidewalk” around Elgin and Queen streets. Police “intercepted” the vehicle and arrested the driver, who was also identified as “someone with bail conditions not to enter Ottawa, stemming from charges received during the February occupation.”

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Some of those arrested and charged after the so-called “Freedom Convoy” in February were forbidden from returning to downtown Ottawa as part of their bail conditions. The arrests come in addition to seven arrests that were made by police Friday.

A total of 24 vehicles were towed from Ottawa’s downtown Friday.

Read more: 7 arrests made after 1st night of ‘Rolling Thunder’ biker convoy in downtown Ottawa

Meanwhile, Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said Saturday’s protests have been peaceful, “so far”.

Though Watson was interrupted several times by protestors, the mayor told reporters the police presence seems enough to keep the rally from escalating to the level of the “Freedom Convoy” demonstrations in February, which seized the city for weeks.

“So far, so good,” Watson said. “It seems to be a peaceful protest, which is what we wanted and there’s a very strong police presence so that it doesn’t turn into the kind of situation that did a lot of harm in our city back in February.”

The day began with a group of demonstrators gathered around the National War Memorial for 10:00 a.m. at an event they said was organized to honour war veterans.

Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said earlier in the week that some of those who planned to come to Ottawa over the weekend have “identified the need to attend the war monument and re-consecrate it by laying a wreath and undoing the damage they feel may have been done during the convoy.”

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Read more: ‘Rolling Thunder’ protesters rally in front of parliament as police stage operation

Retired Pte. Christopher Deering lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a way to “take back” the war memorial after veterans who were part of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” demonstration in February were allegedly removed from the site by police along with the rest of the protesters.

Several veterans made speeches in support of the three-week “Freedom Convoy” protest earlier this year, which prompted the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time.

After the speeches and the wreath laying, the crowd of hundreds moved a few blocks south to watch a convoy of motorcycles pass through the city.

Protesters then moved to gather on Parliament Hill where speeches were delivered and music played. The large crowd spilled down along Wellington Street.

Participants chanted “Freedom!” as speakers thanked supporters of February’s “Freedom Convoy” and called for an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Police officers were seen spread throughout the peaceful crowd.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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