What happened on Day 2 of Rolling Thunder rally

·4 min read
A crowd gathers in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday morning as part of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. (Olivia Chandler/CBC - image credit)
A crowd gathers in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday morning as part of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. (Olivia Chandler/CBC - image credit)

Hundreds of motorcycles rolled through downtown Ottawa on Saturday as part of the weekend Rolling Thunder Ottawa rally.

Ottawa's acting police chief Steve Bell told CBC three arrests were made on Saturday, along with seven arrests on Friday, bringing the total related to the rally to 10.

"You've seen us arrest a number of people who did have conditions not to attend the Ottawa area based on their being charged to the February convoy," Bell said.

Police said a man was charged for breaching his bail conditions on Saturday.

A second man was arrested after a vehicle was driven onto the sidewalk at Elgin and Queen streets. Police said in a release the driver allegedly rushed an Ontario Provincial Police motorcycle at a checkpoint. The officer was not injured.

The man, who was also on conditions stemming from the February occupation, is facing several charges, including breaching release conditions, dangerous driving, refusal to provide a sample, assault on a peace officer and assault with a weapon.

A woman was also arrested midday on Elgin Street after an officer was assaulted.

Bell said community safety remains the force's priority.

"We will continue to keep our presence on the street," Bell said. "We will continue to do that through tonight, through tomorrow and until the last member of these demonstrations, protests or rallies actually leaves our city streets."

Mayor Jim Watson said he had confidence in the response to this rally, calling the police "proactive" in an interview with Radio-Canada, but he worried about Saturday night, saying that nights are harder to police as unlawful behaviour can be more common.

Compared to the weeks-long occupation that occurred with the Freedom Convoy in February, Watson said the downtown situation was more positive this weekend, although residents are tired after COVID-19, the convoy protest and now this rally.

"I can't for the life of me figure out what their cause is this time around. Most of the mandates for vaccinations are gone, yet they're still talking about freedom," Watson told CBC News Network.

Police deployed for crowd control Friday

Saturday's events come after police reported that a crowd assembled on Rideau Street on Friday evening became aggressive.

David Fraser/CBC
David Fraser/CBC

Officers were deployed with helmets and shields to help control the crowd. Seven people were arrested for various charges, including assaulting police. Some of those arrests were also for breach of undertakings, police confirmed Saturday morning.

This weekend's events are being organized by several people who took part in the weeks-long occupation of city streets during the self-described Freedom Convoy earlier this year.

"I'm here for the veterans," said Sonny, a demonstrator draped in a Canadian flag at the National War Memorial. "It's a rally. Not a protest.

"We're going to leave right afterwards. We're giving honour and respect back to this country."

While many mask mandates and other COVID-19 health restrictions have been lifted, some in attendance were focused on ones that remain, including the requirement for many federal employees to be vaccinated and those for air travel.

"I still can't get on a plane. So I still can't travel, which is concerning because it's a free country," said David Paisley, who has promoted the weekend's events through YouTube.

CBC
CBC

While police shared the expected route for the hundreds of motorcyclists driving through downtown on Saturday, they also established a vehicle exclusion zone starting Thursday evening. Pedestrians, cyclists, public transit and other vehicles may enter the secured area, but not motorized vehicles involved in the Rolling Thunder event.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Special no-parking zones are also being set up in nearby neighbourhoods. A counter-protest also gathered at the National War Memorial earlier on Saturday.

"We came here to let people know that's a fringe. They do not represent all veterans, our nation or anything," said Clayton Goodwin, a counter-protester and veteran. "That is a monument owned by Canada, not veterans. Not to be politicized. You tore down fences and politicized it."

On Saturday afternoon, the City of Ottawa's bylaw services branch posted on Twitter that it had issued 560 parking tickets, along with eight tickets for noise, smoking and encumbering the highway.

The bylaw services branch has also towed 39 vehicles.

Police tweeted that a vehicle removed by bylaw officers on Friday attempted to enter Ottawa on Saturday but was stopped, inspected and placed out of service.

Before the weekend, organizers indicated they would leave after a Sunday morning church service in the Vanier neighbourhood of Ottawa, according to police.

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