Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon walks with Tamara Lich in to the courthouse on the first day of trial, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. The lawyers involved in the case of two prominent "Freedom Convoy" organizers are working to keep the court from coming to a complete standstill as the trial enters its third week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Demonstrators wouldn’t leave as police moved in on ‘Freedom Convoy,’ court hears

A member of the Quebec provincial police force says protesters were resistant to clearing the street along Parliament Hill during a large operation to dislodge the “Freedom Convoy” last year.

Capt. Etienne Martel with Sûreté du Québec took the stand through a French interpreter in the criminal trial of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, who are facing charges related to their role in the 2022 protest.

The demonstration blockaded streets and intersections around Ottawa for three weeks in protest against COVID-19 public-health restrictions, vaccine mandates and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.

Martel says his officers were part of a line of police that moved slowly down Wellington Street in crowd control gear on Feb. 18 to try to disperse demonstrators.

He says they barely managed to move 150 meters over the course of many hours because the crowds would not leave, though they were not violent.

The Crown hopes to prove that Lich and Barber encouraged crowds to “hold the line” as police ordered protesters to leave the area around Parliament Hill.

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