Police charge 12 and break up downtown demonstration demanding change for Black and Indigenous people
Twelve people have been charged after Ottawa police moved in early Saturday morning to break up a multi-day downtown demonstration demanding change for Black and Indigenous people.
Protesters had gathered at Ottawa City Hall on Thursday afternoon and continued their demonstration throughout the night and into Friday morning, commandeering a busy downtown intersection so their voices could be better heard.
A few dozen people on Friday remained in the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Nicholas Street, some seated around an oil-drum fire for warmth, others in or under tents or walking about, their signs bearing such messages as “Justice for Abdirahman, Annie, Anthony, Greg and so many more,” “Defund, dismantle, abolish,” “Black and Native Lives Matter” and “Mental Health is not a Crime.”
“The demonstration disrupted regular traffic and blocked an important route for emergency responders. This caused multiple safety issues,” police said in a release Saturday.
Police moved in at 3:30 a.m. to remove the demonstrators after issuing “multiple warnings.”
Approximately 80 protesters gathered around 9 a.m. Saturday to rally outside of Ottawa police headquarters at 474 Elgin St., demanding the immediate release of the arrested demonstrators.
“We will mobilize until all arrested protesters are released and all charges are dropped,” said group Justice for Abdirahman in an Instagram post.
Shortly after 10 a.m., protesters spilled out onto the streets, shutting down Elgin between Catherine Street and Argyle Avenue.
Several hours before police broke up the protest, the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, which was participating in the demonstration, tweeted at 12:46 a.m. Saturday that protesters had secured a meeting with city officials and the Ottawa police board to discuss their demands.
“We will still be occupying Laurier and Nicholas tomorrow so please still show up and await updates!” the tweet reads.