Motorcycles cross the Canadian capital under the eye of the police

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OTTAWA — Motorcycles rumbled through the streets of Canada’s capital on Saturday as a heavy police presence closely watched a few gatherings during the “Rolling Thunder” protest.

Many of the protesters who took part in an early morning service at the National War Memorial and a subsequent rally on Parliament Hill also participated in the “freedom convoy” that shut down downtown Ottawa for decades. weeks in February.

Police made a handful of arrests on Saturday, including a driver who allegedly tried to jump onto a curb to evade officers. Police arrested the person for dangerous driving and found him in violation of his bail conditions related to the previous protest, when he was ordered not to return to Ottawa.

Ottawa’s By-Law and Regulatory Services said more than 560 tickets have been issued for parking, smoking, noise and highway congestion violations, and 39 vehicles have been towed since Friday morning.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the National War Memorial, which was a focal point during the early days of the February protests.

Supporters watched retired Afghan veteran Christopher Deering lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a quasi-memorial ceremony.

Other speakers voiced their opposition to vaccination mandates, COVID-19 restrictions, and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Supporters were asked to remove slogans with profanity aimed at the prime minister for the event.

A small group of counter-protesters gathered in front of the memorial chanting “Go home” to protesters.

The police formed a line between the two groups to keep the peace.

At the end of the service, the crowd marched down Elgin Street to greet a convoy of about 150 motorcycles traveling along a route laid out by police.

Police stopped the motorbike convoy two blocks from the National War Memorial and directed motorcyclists back out of downtown on a designated route.

Later, demonstrators gathered on Parliament Hill. Some danced in the street in front of parliament shouting “freedom!″

The February protest lasted three weeks, as large trucks and other trucks lined up in front of Parliament Hill and set up encampments that blocked traffic. The federal government invoked the Emergencies Act in an attempt to root them out and similar protesters blocking border crossings.

This weekend, Ottawa police called in more than 800 reinforcements from the RCMP and other police departments who blocked freeway exits and all downtown streets to prevent the formation of a new camp.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said police took a “strong stance” to prevent the kind of protracted protest that gripped Ottawa in February.

Saturday’s events were relatively peaceful compared to an altercation between police and protesters on Friday night, when officers arrested seven people and confronted what they described as an ‘aggressive crowd’ just outside the parliamentary precinct.