Officials say the protest could continue into next week.
Police in Ottawa are urging the public to report any "threats or hate motivated incidents" amid the Freedom Convoy in Canada, which has caused thousands of people to gather in the capital's downtown core.
Since Friday, January 28, truckers and other protesters have been arriving in Ottawa to voice their concerns around COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Canada.
The convoy of big rigs and supporters took off around a week ago after starting in B.C. Since then, they have demonstrated across the country and have raised millions of dollars in donations via a GoFundMe campaign.
Those involved, which includes participants from the Atlantic Provinces as well, say they're protesting mandatory vaccination and other pandemic-related health measures, including lockdowns.
We urge everyone to report threats or hate motivated incidents when they happen. If you see something suspicious, call police at 613-236-1222. #ottawa \nhttps://www.ottawapolice.ca/Modules/News/index.aspx?newsId=9a3d07c2-6915-4e4a-b527-c27f9ccee681\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/EjHx5W49od— Ottawa Police (@Ottawa Police) 1643486137
While they say they intend to demonstrate peacefully, a significant police and emergency services presence continues in the city.
Authorities say they're sticking around to "ensure the safety of residents, businesses, and participants during this weekend’s demonstration."
According to BBC News, police say they're concerned about possible extremist rhetoric associated with the convoy and some far-right groups are expected to join the protest.
"The demonstrations this weekend will be unique - fluid, risky and significant," Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said on Friday. He described the convoy as "massive in scale" and "polarizing in nature".
Locals and residents have been urged to avoid the gridlocked downtown core and the public has been asked to report any criminal behaviour or acts of hate during the events of the weekend.
We continue to have a very large police presence today at all large demonstration locations. Please follow the directions of the police, emergency responders and City officials. #ottawa #ottnews #otttraffic \nhttps://www.ottawapolice.ca/en/news-and-community/weekend-demonstration-information-and-updates.aspx\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/ZZo6CJC3dG— Ottawa Police (@Ottawa Police) 1643550607
In a report from Saturday, Ottawa Police said, "We urge everyone to report threats or hate motivated incidents when they happen."
They confirmed that crowds were peaceful overall on Saturday and said there were no major incidents to report.
There have been reports, however, of flags and signs being placed on a statue of Terry Fox by some protestors.
The Royal Canadian Legion also sent a tweet condemning "those who jumped on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and disrespected the National War Memorial on Saturday."
The people involved in the Freedom Convoy intend to stay in the capital region for at least the weekend, with some reportedly saying they are not prepared to leave until COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been lifted.
According to CBC News, officials say it's possible the demonstrations will continue into next week.
Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
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