Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is asking the more “unruly” truck convoy protesters to be respectful in the city and to let residents get back to their normal lives.
Watson says a handful of incidents over the course of the weekend have overshadowed the truck drivers’ message.
Thousands of Canadians have gathered in the nation’s capital to voice their displeasure with the Justin Trudeau government and its COVID-19 mandates.
Watson says some of the protesters’ behaviour is making life difficult for Ottawans.
“You don't come into someone else's neighbourhood, blare your horns and loudspeakers all night so children can't get to sleep, harass 17, 18-year-olds at a fast-food restaurant who won't serve you because you're not wearing a mask," he said.
“It really is despicable behaviour and my message to the truckers is you've had your protest, you've had your rally, time to go back home.”
Watson also pointed to other offences such as public drinking, using fireworks illegally in the city, and the general parking and traffic nightmare in the downtown area that has forced some businesses like certain LCBO branches to close, as well as the Main and Rideau branches of Ottawa Public Library.
The possibility of traffic disruptions spilling over into the week has also put Ottawa’s school boards on alert. Both the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) and the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) are monitoring the situation to determine if students can return to classes safely on Monday.
“My hope is after they've had their second day of protest, that they recognize that they've become more than unwelcome,” said Watson. “And a nuisance in residential neighbourhoods like the ByWard Market, as well as Centretown.”
Watson was again highly critical of the more high-profile incidents that took place during the protest on Saturday, January 29.
Protesters defaced the statue of Terry Fox by placing placards and a flag. People were seen dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while others allegedly urinated there. Ottawa police say criminal investigations are underway regarding those incidents.
And staff at a homeless shelter say they were harassed, a community member was assaulted, and one security guard was racially abused by demonstrators late Saturday.
“People have the right to protest, but this has gone on and on,” said Watson. “And it's fine for those folks to go back to their neighbourhoods, talk to their MPs about this issue that they're concerned about.
“We're just asking for some peace and common sense by these people.”
The mayor also denounced the Confederate and swastika-laden flags that appear to have been flown at the protest by a small group of demonstrators.
“This is just abhorrent behaviour,” he said. “And the leadership of this rally should take responsibility, should apologize. It should move on.”