Ottawa police say “more criminal investigations” are underway after Canadian monuments in the city were destroyed during a day of protests against 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 to threatening, illegal and intimidating behavior toward police and other city workers.
Officers said they have also launched an investigation into damage to a city vehicle.
“Illegal conduct will not be tolerated and will be fully investigated,” the tweet reads.
The force said it had “investigation and evidence gathering teams” in place to “support the leadership of the demonstration.”
Police said reviews will not be accepted via social media.
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“Incidents must be reported to the police,” reads the tweet.
On Saturday, protesters from across Canada met on Parliament Hill.
The demonstration was originally aimed at condemning vaccine mandates for truck drivers crossing the border between Canada and the United States, but the movement has turned into a protest against a series of COVID-19 restrictions and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
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In a press release Sunday, Ottawa police said large crowds remained in the city center all Saturday night and were “actively controlled” by police.
“Officers encountered several challenges with protesters, including occasional roadblocks of trucks that officers were working to clear,” the statement read.
“These high-risk situations were de-escalated and resolved without arrests.”
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According to police, officers patrol throughout the center and “control the movement of protesters and trucks.”
“OPS and our partners continue to focus on maintaining peace in and around the demonstrations and maintaining emergency lanes, while addressing any threatening high-risk behavior.”
The force said there is a large police presence at all major demonstration sites.
“National monuments will be protected and should be respected by all,” the statement said. “Barricades have been installed to block any vehicle access to the path in front of the National War Memorial.”
Officers urged the public not to travel to the city center.
Officials condemn the destruction of monuments
In a tweet Saturday in response to a photo of the Terry Fox statue, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he had asked the city’s law enforcement to have the poster and Canadian flag upside down, calling it “completely unacceptable.”
“This kind of stunt from protesters does not help their cause,” he wrote.
Brad West, the mayor of Port Coquitlam, BC, where Fox came from, called him a “national inspiration and a unifier.”
“Whatever your case, you do not get to inherit his inheritance and you do not 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.”
“Thank you to all our supporters who help us work towards realizing Terry’s dream of a world without cancer,” the tweet read.
What’s more, Chief of Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre said he was “sick of seeing protesters dancing on the unknown soldier’s grave and desecrating the National War Memorial.”
“Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including freedom of speech, but not this,” he wrote on Twitter. “Those involved should hang their heads in shame.”
In a tweet Sunday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said the unknown soldier’s grave was “built to remember and honor those who dedicated their lives in the service of Canadians.
“Not to desecrate and urinate on,” he wrote. “To claim to fight for freedom while not respecting those who lost their lives and fought for our freedom is disgusting.”
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said they “desecrated these memorials should be ashamed, and their behavior undermines the brave Canadians who sacrificed for our country.”
“I support the right to peaceful protest, but it should not be confused with the obvious lack of respect for the men and women who have served, inspired and protected our country,” he wrote on Twitter.
Canada’s Secretary of Defense Anita Anand said she “takes very seriously the fundamental values of our country.”
“I believe we must at all times show respect for those who fought and died for Canada,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am deeply concerned about the acts of disrespect we have witnessed.”
– with a file from The Canadian Press
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