Ottawa’s interim police chief says residents can expect to see more street closures in the downtown core today as the “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” event shifts into high gear.
The biker rally has several events scheduled for today, including a motorcycle ride from Coventry Road to downtown Ottawa and a memorial service at the National War Memorial.
Live updates on the ‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle convoy in Ottawa
“We have the plans in place to manage what will occur today. We have the resources on the ground here in Ottawa ready to be utilized if there are issues,” Interim Chief Steve Bell told Newstalk 580 CFRA Saturday morning.
“People can expect to see more restrictions, they can expect to see closed streets and our officers will continue to evaluate, manage and monitor what’s going on so we can keep core area safe and unoccupied.”
At 10 a.m., hundreds of people gathered at the National War Memorial for a memorial service hosted by Veterans for Freedom, with a small group of counter-protesters set up across the street.
‘Rolling Thunder Ottawa’ organizer Neil Sheard spoke at the memorial. Sheard told the Evan Solomon Show earlier this week that the bike rally is being held to “help heal and give back the dignity to that monument that was desecrated by the powers that be,” during the previous protests in February.
The events come after police say officers dealt with an “aggressive crowd” in the area of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive Friday night, outside the Rideau Centre. Hundreds of people marched from Parliament Hill to Rideau Street just after 7 p.m., blocking the street over two hours until police moved in to clear the protesters and several vehicles.
Seven people were arrested for various offences and three vehicles were towed from the street, according to police. Bell says a “number of people” arrested Friday night were related for court-breach probations related to the “Freedom Convoy” protest in February.
Twenty-four vehicles were towed throughout the day in Ottawa.
“There have been no reported injuries, and police remain in full control of city streets,” police said in a statement, adding streets in the exclusion zone were reopened late in the evening.
“Though the week, we indicated that there was going to be no tolerance for that on our streets this weekend; they would no occupation and there would be no tolerance for unlawful or uncivil activities,” Bell said.
“I think that’s what we saw last night and that is what we responded to. We have plans in place, resources in place today to do exactly the same thing. My hope is we don’t need to employ those tactics, but my job isn’t to hope so we’ll continue be prepared, execute the plans we have to make sure that the city streets remain safe and open for the citizens of Ottawa.”
Police have said more than 500 motorcycles and vehicles are expected to participate in the “Rolling Thunder Ottawa” event this weekend. The group hasn’t been clear about the goals of the rallies, but said on its website it will “spread as much peace, love and patriotism to your fellow Canadians as possible.”
According to the Rolling Thunder Ottawa website, events today include a service at the National War Memorial and a rally and march on Parliament Hill with special guest Chris Sky.
Here is the itinerary for today (according to the Rolling Thunder Ottawa website)
- 9 a.m. – Bikers muster at St. Laurent Shopping Centre
- 10 a.m. – Veterans for Freedom service at the National War Memorial
- 11 a.m. Bikes roll out to the war memorial
- 12 p.m. – Bikes leave on routes outside the city
- 2 p.m. – Freedom Fighters Canada rally and march at Parliament Hill
Police shared the full route for the ‘Rolling Thunder’ motorcycle ride.
The ride will leave St. Laurent Shopping Centre around 10:45 a.m. and snake through downtown, leaving via Highway 417. The entire route has been designated as a no-stopping zone.
- West on Coventry Road
- North on the Vanier Parkway
- West on Montreal Road
- Merge onto Rideau Street
- South onto Waller Street
- West onto Mackenzie King Bridge
- South on Elgin Street
- East on Laurier Avenue West
- South on Nicholas Street to Highway 417
“Zero tolerance,” Interim Chief Bell says
Some residents and elected officials have questions about why protest vehicles were able to block Rideau Street Friday evening, despite police promising any vehicle involved in the protest would not be allowed in the exclusion zone.
“It looked clearly like an attempt of reoccupation by vehicles many people have pointed out to me were involved in the February occupation and I was very pleased to see the much stronger police response this time,” Coun. Jeff Leiper said on CFRA.
Leiper, who is a member of the Ottawa Police Services Board, says he has questions about why vehicles were allowed into the area.
“The message from police has been clear – there are no stopping and no parking areas and anyone who does is subject to being towed. They clearly mean it. The vehicles that were stopped on Rideau were towed.”
Bell says police sent a message to protesters planning to occupy the streets.
“People are now, very clear that we have zero tolerance for any occupation of our streets, we have zero tolerance for any occupation of our streets,” Bell said. “We have zero tolerance for any sort of criminal, traffic of bylaw infractions and we will enforce them.”
Several tow trucks were parked through the downtown core Saturday morning to tow any vehicles violating the no-stopping, no-parking rules in the exclusion zone.
People gather at the National War Memorial on day 2 of the ‘Rolling Thunder Ottawa’ biker rally. (Colton Praill/CTV News Ottawa)
Ottawa police look to idetnfiy a woman on Rideau Street
Ottawa police are asking for the public’s help to identify a woman in relation to an incident on Rideau Street Friday night.
Police had said officers were dealing with an aggressive crowd.
Seven people were arrested on Friday evening in downtown Ottawa.
Ottawa police and Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services has set up an exclusion zone, with vehicles taking part in a demonstration, event or protest prohibited from entering.
The exclusion zone stretches from Waller Street to Bronson Avenue and Wellington Street to Laurier Avenue, along with the ByWard Market area from MacKenzie Avenue to King Edward Avenue and Rideau Street to Murray Street.
The exclusion zone is also designated as a no-stopping and no-parking zone. Bylaw Services says any vehicles violating the orders will be ticketed and towed.
Will city hall be open?
Ottawa City Hall and its underground parking lot will be closed until 7 a.m. on Monday.