(CNN) – Another weekend of protests against Canada Mandates Covid-19 saw around 200 arrests in the nation’s capital as authorities moved to end the week-long protest, tow away vehicles and go after protesters’ wallets with financial penalties.
Police said they used pepper spray and stepped up tactics over the weekend to disperse crowds and make arrests with protesters gathered outside the Parliament building.
Some of those arrests included protesters who allegedly had smoke grenades and fireworks and were wearing body armor, police said.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is also looking at an incident where a woman was allegedly seriously injured after an interaction with a mounted police officer, and a second where a police officer discharged a less-than-lethal firearm at protesters.
Acting Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell told a news conference on Sunday that police operations have seen a dramatic drop in the number of protesters.
But he said downtown residents had become aware of fences and a “very heavy police presence” as well as checkpoints throughout the city.
“While I know everyone is happy to see that many illegal protesters are gone, this is not the normal state of our city,” he said. “Despite the successes of the past few days, we still need these measures to prevent the return of illegal protesters.”
Bell said 191 protesters were arrested and 107 people charged. The charges included obstructing police, disobeying a court order, assault, mischief, possession of a weapon and assaulting a police officer, he said.
Chris Harkins, Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, reported at the press conference that 76 vehicles were seized and towed away.
The Ottawa protests were sparked in late January by a group of truckers opposed to a Covid-19 vaccine and testing mandate. But others outside the trucking industry have come together to express their frustration with an array of other Covid-19 health measures, such as the requirement to wear masks in schools.
Officials have vowed to end the protests through unprecedented protocols, including the Emergencies Act. The law allows the Canadian government to draw on military forces, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it clear that troops would not be needed.
Protesters hit with financial penalties as funding sources investigate
Mike Duheme, Deputy Commissioner of Federal Policing for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), said at Sunday’s news conference that the Emergencies Act had helped the police operation.
“The provisions of this Emergency Measures Act have allowed us to maintain the perimeter, restrict movement and ensure that we can continue to stifle financial support and other aid to protesters,” Duheme said.
Canadian authorities on Sunday froze finances associated with some people and companies suspected of being involved in the protest, Duheme said.
The RCMP froze 206 financial products, including bank and corporate accounts; disclosed the information of 56 entities associated with vehicles, individuals and businesses; shared 253 bitcoin addresses with virtual currency exchangers; and froze a payment processing account worth $3.8 million, Duheme said at the press conference.
“We continue to work on collecting relevant information on people, vehicles and businesses and remain in daily communication with the financial institution to help them,” said Duheme.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said CNN’s Christiane Amanpour officials were examining how the blockades had been funded.
“We launched investigations to see if there was any foreign influence. I raised the issue with Secretary Blinken, my counterparts also in Canada raised issues, as we are very concerned about funding, through crowdsourcing, first, and also the misinformation campaign related to it,” she said.
Meanwhile, Canadian officials announced on Saturday that small businesses that had been unable to open due to the lockdowns and had suffered financial losses could apply for up to $10,000 which they would not have to repay.
The funds, totaling up to $20 million, can only be used for non-deferrable operational costs not covered by other federal programs, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario said.
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CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.