Five weeks after police pushed the Freedom Convoy protesters out of downtown, they have returned.
Saturday afternoon, hundreds of cars from Saint-Lambert-de-Lauzon, Qué. detoured downtown, honking their horns on King Edward Avenue, Laurier Avenue and O’Connor Street, as they made their way to Vankleek Hill.
“I think the visibility will be there, it’s good for the optics. They will pass, let Ottawa know that we are still here, that we have not left, and that we will not go anywhere. leave until these warrants are lifted,” said Jeromy O’Sullivan, one of the protest organizers.
Ottawa police at the scene told CTV News Ottawa they estimate around 300 vehicles were part of the so-called “next generation convoy.”
Police escorted the motorcade through parts of the city and said there were no incidents related to the protests.
“We appreciate that this convoy was not welcome by many residents and businesses. All legal permissions have been reviewed or used in accordance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said the Ottawa Police Service wrote in a tweet.
The return of protesters, flags and horns, is an unwelcome sight for some downtown residents.
“More than anything, I would like them to come home,” said downtown resident Erica Lackey.
Lackey says she makes frequent trips to Parliament Hill, where small protests in support of the Freedom Convoy have continued since Wellington Street reopened to pedestrians.
“If they’re not actually causing disruption and they’re not harming people, then they can do whatever they want, but it’s when they start causing disruption that we have a problem,” a- she declared.
The convoy, which did not stop in Ottawa, started in Quebec, picked up supporters in Drummondville and Montreal en route to a rural headquarters just outside Vankleek Hill.
“We’re growing, we’re coming back, we’re going to build back better so to speak“, said O’Sullivan.
Those supporting the field procession in Ottawa say they are still fighting for the end of COVID-19 mandates, although most have already been lifted, and the provincial government’s plans to lift all remaining mandates by the end of April.
“I hope all mandates are dropped. At the federal level, we still cannot travel, we do not have the right to mobility, the university still cannot go to school without being vaccinated and c is completely wrong, they have the right right to an education,” said convoy supporter Sarah Marckesano.
Convoy supporters say they are not concerned about the impact another protest could have on Ottawa residents or their message.
“If it gets attention, that’s what a protest does, we’re here to disrupt until our voices are heard,” Marckesano added.
But those who live in downtown Ottawa say another parade along Laurier Avenue is the last thing they wanted.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been putting up with this for months and we’re tired,” Lackey said.