Ottawa Police arrest 7 people and tow vehicles on Day 1 of the weekend rally

Ottawa police say they made seven arrests and towed 24 vehicles through downtown Ottawa on the first day of this weekend’s Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally.

The Ottawa Police Service tweeted early Saturday about the tow and the arrests, which involved “various charges including assault on police.”

The tweets said no injuries were reported and “police remain in full control of city streets”.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, the police department tweeted about a large crowd on Rideau Street and asked people to avoid the area.

Twenty minutes later, police said they were dealing with aggressive people and more officers were being sent to help handle the situation.

Kitchissippi Ward County Jeff Leiper tweeted a video showing police watching a large crowd gather in front of the Rideau Center.

“We ask people to remain peaceful and follow police instructions as they work to clear the area,” police tweeted around 8 p.m.

Police also tweeted that “due to an escalation in mob aggression” at the intersection of Rideau and Sussex streets, some officers would be deployed with helmets and shields.

The City of Ottawa has imposed strict restrictions ahead of this weekend’s protest to avoid a repeat of the anti-warrant convoy occupation that paralyzed downtown for several weeks earlier this year.

Rolling Thunder Rally participants arrived earlier in the evening on Parliament Hill. It was the first of several events scheduled for the weekend, which organizers say are aimed at honoring veterans who fought for freedom.

Earlier in the week, Rolling Thunder Ottawa said in a statement that its members did not support efforts to obstruct police.

Warnings that vehicles would be towed

Police had warned for days that any vehicles associated with the rally heading towards certain downtown streets would be removed.

A tow truck was used to remove a vehicle from Rideau Street Friday night amid cries of “Freedom!” a crowd.

Warning: The video below contains offensive language.

Police moved the crowd west past the intersection of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive towards Parliament Hill.

Some protesters shot off fireworks and drank openly in public – police acts said there would be zero tolerance over the weekend.

By 10 p.m. the crowd had thinned and police tweeted that they had hijacked several vehicles trying to occupy a downtown parking lot.

A wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial related to the event is scheduled for Saturday morning.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Legion said she hoped attendees would proceed “with respect and in the spirit of remembrance”.

Protesters on Rideau Street in Ottawa shout and crowd around police Friday night on the first day of this weekend’s Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally. (David Thurton/CBC)