(Anak Emak) A weeks-long blockade in the Canadian capital has led to almost 200 arrests and prolonged suffering for businesses caught in the middle of protests against Covid-19 mandates.
Now, investigators are looking into two police-involved incidents Saturday at the protests in Ottawa, Ontario authorities said Sunday.
"The province's Special Investigations Unit is investigating two police-involved incidents that occurred at the demonstrations in Ottawa yesterday and is urging anyone who has information, including video, to come forward," Ontario's SIU said.
Preliminary information indicates around 5:14 p.m. Saturday, "there was an interaction between a Toronto Police Service officer on a horse and a 49-year-old woman on Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue. The woman has a reported serious injury," the SIU said.
No additional information was released on the circumstances of the injury.
Separately, "At approximately 7:18 p.m. Vancouver Police Department officers discharged Anti-Riot Weapon Enfields (less-lethal firearms) at individuals in the area of Sparks Street and Bank Street. No injuries have been reported at this time," the agency said Sunday. "The SIU asks anyone who may have been struck by a projectile to contact the unit."
Protesters and idling trucks have blocked the streets of Ottawa. Some demonstrators have said they won't budge until Covid-19 mitigation efforts such as mask and vaccination requirements are lifted.
By Sunday morning, Ottawa police said they had arrested at least 191 people.
Tensions escalated Saturday when police used pepper spray to disperse crowds. Protesters outside Wellington Street in front of Parliament were arrested, Ottawa Interim Police Chief Steve Bell said during a news conference.
"We have been here for three weeks. I have been at this podium for the last 5 days, imploring people to leave, asking them to get out of our streets," Bell said Joker123.
"This occupation is over, we have advised them that if they peacefully leave, they may go home," he said. "We also indicated that we would escalate and forcibly remove people from the streets if they did not comply."
The protests started in late January by a group of truck drivers opposed to a Covid-19 vaccine and testing mandate. But others outside the trucking industry have joined to express their frustration with an array of other Covid-19 health measures -- such as requirements to wear masks in schools.
And despite threats of legal consequences, many have showed no signs of backing down.
On Friday, authorities said protesters assaulted officers and tried to remove their weapons. And on Saturday, police alleged a protester threw a gas canister.
"We were slow and methodical, yet you were assaultive and aggressive with officers and the horses. Based on your behavior, we are responding by including helmets and batons for our safety," police said, addressing the protesters.
Two of the protests' organizers were arrested and charged this week, authorities said.
Tamara Lich, 49, faces a counseling to commit the offense of mischief charge.
Christopher John Barber, 46, was charged with counseling to commit the offense of mischief, counseling to commit the offense of disobeying a court order, and counseling to commit the offense of obstructing police.
Barber's attorney, Diane Magas, said her client contested a bail hearing Friday and was released on conditions and a Joker123.