Texts and emails show what Ottawa police told convoy organizers ahead of protest

Text messages between one of the convoy’s protest organizers and an Ottawa police officer show how police told protesters where to park, in what one expert calls a deal gone wrong.

Chad Eros, Convoy Demonstration Organizer has filed an affidavit with the Ontario Superior Court as a respondent to the proposed class action responsible for the Downtown Horn Stop. In that affidavit, text messages and emails revealed how organizers contacted police days before thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles began paralyzing downtown streets.

On January 25, three days before the the first and most impatient convoy protesters arrived with large trucks to block the streets of the city, const. Isabelle Cyr-Pidcock texted Eros asking him to send her a route of the protesters.

“I will have a definite plan for you tomorrow morning,” read the officer’s text to Eros.

The protest organizer responded by saying he was “so happy” the police and organizers could work together, and the officer replied “Absolutely!”

A young child wrapped in a Canadian flag plays football in front of police officers during the February 9 convoy protest. (Lars Hagberg/Reuters)

Coventry Road pitch ‘secured’ for protesters

The affidavit does not include all communications between the two. It includes another text on the night of January 25 where Cyr-Pidcock requested route information from Eros.

“I don’t want to bother you, but if you want us to work with you, I need the information I requested. When are you going to send everything?” the officer wrote just before the three-week illegal occupation of downtown Ottawa.

Eros replied that he was working on it but no other text seems to have been exchanged on this date.

The next morning, Cyr-Pidcock tells Eros about the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT) Stadium parking lot on Coventry Road, which had been “secured” by the police for protesters in the convoy coming from the east.

“You can start working on a shuttle for them,” she wrote. “Planning almost complete for the western convoy.”

The Coventry Road encampment became a stronghold for protesters and was used to coordinate food and fuel deliveries to city center participants.

Protesters told to park on Wellington, SJAM Parkway

Eros doesn’t appear to respond to the officer but she sends another text a few hours later to tell him that the protesters won’t be able to start staging everyone until 8am.

“Could you change your opening ceremony later so everyone gets settled in properly?” she writes.

Again, Eros doesn’t appear to respond, but Cyr-Pidcock tells him in a late afternoon text that protesters are “going to be able to park” on Wellington Street and along Sir John A. Macdonald Drive. .

“We will provide routes in this area tomorrow morning. The staging area will be ready Saturday morning,” the text reads.

A protester builds a platform above a shed attached to a flatbed truck on Wellington Street as the protest hits its two-week mark. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

An email sent by Cyr-Pidcock on Jan. 27 provides directions to staging areas apparently set up by Ottawa police on Wellington and the promenade, which would end up being filled with trucks and other vehicles for weeks.

The email contained specific instructions to protesters on where they could not park because the roads were designated response routes for emergency vehicles, including Laurier Avenue West and Elgin Street between Wellington and the highway 417.

Protesters began arriving in the city on January 28, and the next day thousands converged on Parliament Hill accompanied by the constant honking of trucks and honking of trains. Wellington was jammed with vehicles belonging to protesters, prompting the closure of several downtown businesses, including the Rideau Centre.

Communications filed in court show no further text messages or emails between Eros and Cyr-Pidcock through February 9. That day, Eros said to the officer, “Remember you said they could build the tents?”

In the final communication between the two included in the court filing, Cyr-Pidcock says, “The city let you stay there for almost two weeks. I think that was very generous. I’ll call you later tonight. ”

A little over a week later, the police began to intervene to evict the demonstrators.

A police officer guards a checkpoint near Parliament Hill on February 23. These checkpoints had been set up the previous week as police prepared to clear the occupation of downtown streets. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Police communication with the “typical” demonstration

Sam Hersh, who continues to participate in counter-protests against the convoy as a member of the organization Horizon Ottawa, says police guided protesters through downtown.

“It’s still shocking to some extent…but it’s not surprising to me,” he said. “There are so many stories about the collaboration that existed between the Ottawa police and the convoy protesters, and their complicity.”

University of Ottawa criminologist Michael Kempa said it’s “pretty typical” for police to contact planned protests when they expect attendees not to stay for a period of time. significant.

It was still waiting at the end of January for the Command Center of the National Capital Region, which brought together municipal, provincial and federal information. The center expected protesters to leave the city “no later than” February 2.

“In this case, it would appear that the Ottawa police were trying to come to an agreement,” Kempa said.

“In exchange for promises not to stay for an extended period, the Freedom Convoy would be given certain spaces to organize themselves and ensure that they had some form of control over their protest, in the hopes that they would leave after two or three days.”

On February 5, former police chief Peter Sloly said his forces did not have enough resources to end what would turn into an occupation. He will resign soon after.

Ottawa police did not respond to questions about the emails and affidavit texts.