“If you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges,” Ottawa police tweeted Sunday. A day earlier, interim Police Chief Steve Bell was asked whether police would continue to go after those protesters who had remained in Ottawa, even if they chose to go home at some point.
“The simple answer is yes,” he said, adding the investigation would go on for “months to come.”
“You have my commitment that that investigation will continue and we will hold people accountable for taking our streets over,” Bell said.
Ottawa police have long been telling protesters to leave since before the weekend began, and warning that anyone within the “unlawful protest sites” could be arrested.
Many are still not dissuaded. Tara Smyth said she had been at the protests all weekend and was now on her way home to Barry’s Bay, Ont., with her dog. She said she understood the police needed to clear the streets but said it’s not “right” they “have taken away people’s rights to speak up for themselves.”
“We have the right to come back once the roads are clear. We should be able to come back and stand on Parliament Hill and express our desires,” she said.
Smyth said she wasn’t concerned about the police potentially pursuing her for participating in the protests after she left Ottawa. “I haven’t done anything illegal. I haven’t caused any trouble,” she said. “I followed all the orders of the police, and I’m not worried about any repercussion of me being here.”