Emergencies Act: Interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell testifying



In the times main as much as the mass protest in Ottawa final winter, police did not have intelligence suggesting the “Freedom Convoy” would use native residents as a “leverage level”, interim police chief Steve Bell mentioned Monday.

Bell made the remark whereas testifying on the Public Order Emergency Commission which is probing the federal Liberal authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act to clear protesters.

Bell was a deputy chief and accountable for intelligence when the convoy started however was elevated to interim chief in mid-February after Peter Sloly resigned.

Commission lawyer Frank Au spent the morning questioning Bell about police intelligence forward of the protest, together with a menace evaluation police ready for the convoy’s anticipated arrival in Ottawa on Jan. 29.

The fee heard final week {that a} native resort affiliation warned the City of Ottawa and police earlier than protesters arrived that they have been reserving rooms for 30 days.

The Jan. 29 menace evaluation, ready by Ottawa police’s safety intelligence part, famous a rise in social media posts suggesting violence needs to be used if the federal government doesn’t acknowledge the convoy, however says no threats or credible plans had been recognized.

“Convoy members seem like stocking up on meals and provides which may point out they’ve long run plans to remain in Ottawa,” the report says. It additionally added that feelings on the demonstration might run excessive and site visitors may disrupted.

But Bell testified the obtainable intelligence earlier than protesters arrived confirmed the convoy would largely be a three-day occasion, with solely a small quantity staying longer than one weekend.

He additionally advised the fee that intelligence mentioned there have been lots of people concerned within the convoy however that that they had been “extraordinarily lawful,” as they travelled in direction of Ottawa.

“They have been folks shifting throughout the nation decided to be heard, however they have been peaceable,” Bell testified. “They indicated that their intention was to be peaceable after they received right here.”

Bell mentioned that is not what in the end occurred.

During his testimony, Bell repeatedly mentioned the three-week lengthy protest inflicted “violence,” “hurt” and “trauma” onto residents within the metropolis.

Earlier testimony from some downtown residents and native metropolis councillors painted an image to the fee of a lawlessness present within the downtown through the subsequent weeks after protesters arrived.

Witnesses testified to dwelling with an never-ending honking of horns and metropolis officers spoke about how the blockade disrupted many providers and closed companies.

Bell testified Monday that nothing within the intelligence warned that protesters would find yourself utilizing Ottawa residents as collateral injury. He defended the intelligence gathering and police planning at the moment by saying the drive was used to managing giant protests, however did not have expertise working with a gaggle like convoy organizers.

“There’s nothing that signifies that the protesters are going to make use of the residents of our neighborhood because the leverage level to have their voices heard.”

Bell mentioned primarily based on intelligence police had earlier than demonstrators first arrived, they did not really feel that they had a authorized proper to disclaim them entry to the town core.

A authorized opinion was ready on that for Bell forward of the protest. It mentioned the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and different legal guidelines needed to be thought-about, and “the place people or teams don’t hinder or hinder vehicular site visitors for prolonged intervals, they keep the precise to protest to date in in order that it doesn’t have interaction or entail illegal conduct.”

“I imagine we have been unprepared for what transpired,” Bell mentioned.

He testified that police realized classes from their dealing with of the convoy protests. He pointed to their response to the “Rolling Thunder” demonstration, which protesters staged a number of months later, however didn’t result in extended blockades.

During that protest, police prevented automobiles from coming into downtown.

“A truck is not a protected entities below the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Bell mentioned Monday. “People are.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Oct. 24, 2022.


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