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In Ottawa Protests, a Pressing Question: Where Were the Police?

In Ottawa Protests a Pressing Question Where Were the Police


Over that time, money to support the convoy in Ottawa — much of it from the United States — has poured in. The organizers have held regular news conferences in hotel rooms, for the media outlets they deem trustworthy. They sent a lawyer to court to represent them in a nascent class action suit.

And they got organized, setting up street captains who reported to block captains. Together, they distribute food and supplies to sustain the protesters and, most important, deliver diesel to the trucks in jerrycans. As of last weekend that was deemed a crime, but it continues unabated.

On Monday, when a local court imposed a 10-day prohibition on honking, the more than 400 trucks barricading dozens of blocks suddenly went silent — revealing both an adept communications network and notable discipline, said Regina Bateson, an assistant professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa.

“They’ve been given this amazing gift of time by the authorities here,” said Ms. Bateson, who studies political violence, collective activism and populism. “With that time, they have formed relationships, they’ve gone out and partied together. It’s actually important — that’s how groups form cohesion.”

She added, “That gives them the trust and confidence to go into combat together.”

A 15-minute drive from downtown, one of the occupation’s command centers has been set up in the stadium parking lot of the Ottawa Titans, a minor-league baseball club.

A half-dozen large white tents have been built, with electricity and heat pumping into them. Inside one, cooks offer hot dogs and soup to dozens of people sitting at tables, surrounded by donations of toothpaste, toilet paper and juice. In another, deemed the office, volunteers check in to pick up money or get their marching orders. A couple of white boards offer services not normally associated with protests — the numbers for a mechanic, an electrician and a person with keys to a cage of propane tanks out back near piles of wood. Portable toilets and two saunas — their chimneys leaking smoke — sit near by.



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