Ottawa police caution against ‘lone wolf individuals’ taking advantage of trucker protests

Chief Peter Sloly said Ottawa police haven’t been able to fully engage with ‘parallel demonstrators’ as the convoy arrives today

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Ottawa’s police chief warned Friday that this weekend’s trucker convoy demonstrations will be “unique, fluid, risky and significant.”

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Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said the police don’t have a confirmed number of how many trucks or protestors to expect or a specific end date, but that the demonstrations are “national in scope” and “massive in scale.”

He cautioned there are unknown risk factors like the impact of social media actors inciting violence.

He said at a Friday press conference that police have been in touch with the organizers of the truck convoy who have said they plan a peaceful demonstration. But Sloly warned that there are other unnamed “parallel demonstrators” the police haven’t been able to fully engage with, and cautioned there are “lone wolf individuals who may insert themselves into the mix for various reasons.”

He said there are also “social media actors” based locally, nationally and internationally who may or may not actually come to Ottawa, “but who are nonetheless inciting hate, violence, and in some cases, criminality to take place in our city.”

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The police “do not know the full impact that a demonstration of this size, scale and potential duration will have on public safety or on public health outcomes while we’re in the latest phase of the Covid pandemic,” Sloly said.

Police have already been managing small demonstrations over the past 24 hours that have been “peaceful and uneventful” but the main demonstrations will start tomorrow and continue through the weekend and potentially into the next week, he said.

Sloly said there will be gridlock and “major traffic safety issues” and cautioned against visiting or travelling to the downtown core unless necessary.

He said there will “significant impacts” for those who live or work in Ottawa’s downtown, and that residents should do any necessary shopping or errands on Friday, and prepare for home delivery services to be unavailable.

“There may in fact be very limited vehicle, bicycle or even pedestrian access to the core for safety reasons,” he said.

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