Ottawa·Timeline

How the end of the downtown occupation unfolded in Ottawa

Here's a timeline of events from Friday through Monday as police officers from across the country took back Ottawa streets from big rigs, vehicles and protesters who had occupied the capital for more than three weeks.

A timeline of events over Family Day weekend in the nation's capital

Machinery moves a concrete barricade past the Parliament buildings on Sunday after the occupation of downtown Ottawa streets. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

It was a Family Day weekend the likes of which Ottawa has never seen, as three weeks of enduring protests were brought to a swift end. Starting last Friday, unprecedented police action pushed demonstrators off of Wellington Street and moved trucks occupying the downtown core since Jan. 29. 

Here's how it all unfolded.

Thursday

Heading into the long weekend, police warn protesters to move out of the area and the Children's Aid Society calls on parents to take their kids out of the area due to "potential police action."

Interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell warns a major increase of police officers will be seen throughout the core.

A protester films police officers as they assemble on Colonel By Drive near the occupation in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 18. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A secure perimeter is set up and, according to police, there are 100 checkpoints. All highway off-ramps to downtown streets are closed, but some on-ramps remain open so people can leave town.

Friday

Five days after the federal government invokes the Emergencies Act, police forces from across the country start moving in to disperse protesters.

On Friday morning, the first area to see police action is around Nicholas Street and the Mackenzie King Bridge. Police warn people to leave the area. As officers move in, several arrests are made and a truck's windows are smashed.

A timelapse of police efforts to clear convoy protesters on Friday

4 months ago
Duration 2:36
This timelapse video shows groups of police officers moving toward protesters from Rideau Street and Colonel By Drive between late morning and about 3 p.m. as the operation to clear the Ottawa convoy protest began Friday.

Shortly after 11 a.m., police line up on Rideau Street near Joey's restaurant and begin to move westward. At the same time, rows and rows of officers form on Colonel By Drive near the Westin Hotel. The police contingent includes public order units and members from forces across the country. Bringing up the rear are eight officers on horseback and a tactical vehicle.

Protesters move to Colonel By to stand nose-to-nose with police, yelling "Hold the line." Every 10 minutes or so, police move northward a few steps and come into physical contact with protesters. Some protesters are arrested.

People wave flags and shout at the police as they are pushed onto Rideau Street.

By 1:30 p.m., police move all protesters out of the ByWard Market, off Sussex Drive and off Colonel By Drive. Police, including the Sûreté du Quebec, eventually form a line from the front door of the Château Laurier hotel, across Rideau Street, to the Senate building.

New protesters arrive and some children are in the crowd. Some parents have brought their kids to the occupation to "witness history." Police earlier estimated about 25 per cent of the trucks have children.

A protester sings 'O Canada' as they are arrested after trying to push through a line of police officers on Friday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Throughout the afternoon, witnesses say the atmosphere is tense, demonstrators are loud and animated. A wall of officers slowly moves in, pushing the crowd. Physical contact with officers leads to some arrests

Late in the afternoon, mounted police on Rideau Street near the Château Laurier attempt to create space between protesters and officers, according to police. 

Mounted officers move through crowd of protesters as police operation gains ground

4 months ago
Duration 1:28
As police continue to dismantle the convoy protest in Ottawa, mounted officers are seen riding through the crowd to push protesters backwards and away from a line of police.

In the pushing and shoving, people are knocked down by horses, including a woman with a walker, who is reportedly injured. This incident is now being investigated by the police oversight body called the Special Investigations Unit

Social media and U.S. media outlets spread rumours the woman was trampled and killed. This is later confirmed to be untrue.

By Friday night, several trucks have left the core, but the "party" atmosphere continues in front of the Château Laurier and along Wellington Street.

By end of day, police say they've arrested 100 people. including three of the protest leaders: Chris Barber, Tamara Lich and Pat King. Barber is released on bail and ordered to leave the city within 24 hours.   

Saturday 

On Saturday morning shortly after 9 a.m, police wearing helmets and armed with batons pour out of the Château Laurier, moving quickly along Wellington Street, pressing protesters west past Elgin Street. Police clear out protesters gathered around the National War Memorial.

At Metcalfe Street, right in front of the gates of Parliament Hill, there's a melee as police say protesters throw a gas canister.

A person cries out after police deployed a chemical riot control agent as they take action along Wellington Street to put an end to the protest. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Police announce another protest organizer, Pat King, faces four charges. Protest co-organizer Tamara Lich has a court appearance, but remains in custody.

Police use "a device" to create a loud bang during their advance and report one protester had also "launched a gas canister" at officers.

Ottawa police use chemical irritant as they confront protesters

4 months ago
Duration 3:14
Police in downtown Ottawa used chemical irritant Saturday afternoon as they pushed through the main protest encampment.

Officers, including those on horseback, push the protesters from the west end of Wellington Street, making more arrests.

Some of the people arrested are in "body armour" and have smoke grenades and fireworks in their bags, according to police.

By noon, all protesters have been corralled onto O'Connor Street, near Sparks Street. Police say protesters become "assaultive" and officers use pepper spray. People use snow to wipe out their eyes.

Ottawa police also appeal to people to stop flooding its 911 line as a means to "express displeasure about the police action."

A Canadian police officer pepper sprays a demonstrator as they work to restore normality to the capital while trucks and demonstrators continue to occupy the downtown core. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

Late Saturday afternoon, protesters gather on Bank Street between Sparks and Queen streets. A speaker is set up blaring music and people with flags and signs dance on the street.

Once Wellington is cleared of demonstrators, workers move in to put up more temporary fences to keep them out. 

Police on Saturday move in to clear downtown Ottawa near Parliament hill of protesters after weeks of demonstrations. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

A statement from the so-called "Freedom Convoy," one of the main organizing groups, calls out what it describes as police brutality. Social media posts allege police are using excessive force during arrests. 

On Saturday evening, a police tweet says protesters assaulted officers with weapons "warranting the deployment of mid range impact weapons." This leads to the launch of a second investigation by the SIU.

Sunday

On Sunday, Ottawa's mayor says vehicles seized during the crackdown should be sold to cover costs incurred by the city.

Some children remain front and centre in the crowds over the weekend. 

By Sunday afternoon, police say they have made 191 arrests, and laid 389 charges against 103 people. Most have been released on bail conditions that include being prohibited from going into the protest area. Police have also towed 79 vehicles including heavy trucks, pickup trucks and cars.

The interim police chief says the investigation will "go on for months to come."

Residents enjoy the quiet as city crews clean up the main protest site. Officers move in on the supply camp on Coventry Road. 

Timelapse: Police clear Ottawa protest supply camp

4 months ago
Duration 4:06
Police arrived at the convoy’s Coventry Road supply camp on Sunday, clearing the remaining protesters and towing several vehicles.

Monday

It's a bit of a ghost town in Ottawa's downtown core after the end of a raucous protest, but police checkpoints remain to stop protesters from returning. However, the downtown LRT stations reopen.

Cleanup efforts continue now that trucks and protesters are gone from the core. 

Police send social media messages that only parliamentary employees are permitted north of Sparks Street, between Elgin and Bay streets. Wellington Street remains closed to all traffic.

Debris sits on the ground in front of Parliament Hill’s gates after police took action to clear the street of trucks and protesters. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Some members of the truck convoy are reported to be regrouping outside the city as more than 50 vehicles are seen over the weekend in Vankleek Hill, Ont.

The City of Ottawa warns any communications involving financial compensation, which appear to come from the city, due to the convoy protests are not authentic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defends his government's use of the Emergencies Act as MPs prepare to vote on the act. The House of Commons approves its use.

Someone stands draped in the Canadian flag at a temporary fence. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Ireton

Senior Reporter

Julie Ireton is a senior reporter who works on investigations and enterprise news features at CBC Ottawa. She's also the host of the CBC investigative podcast, The Band Played On found at: cbc.ca/thebandplayedon You can reach her at julie.ireton@cbc.ca

With files from Joanne Chianello

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