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Ottawa police say “several criminal investigations” are underway after Canadian monuments in the city were defaced during a day of protests against COVID-19 measures on Parliament Hill on Saturday.

In a series of tweets Sunday morning, Ottawa police said the investigations are related to “the desecration” of the National War Memorial, the Terry Fox statue, and regarding threatening, illegal and intimidating behavior towards police and other city workers.

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Officers said they have also launched an investigation into damage to a city vehicle.

“Illegal behavior will not be tolerated and will be thoroughly investigated,” the tweet says.

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The force said it has “investigation and evidence-gathering teams” to “support the management of the demonstration.”

Police said reports via social media will not be accepted.

“Incidents must be reported to the police,” the tweet says.

On Saturday, protesters from across Canada gathered on Parliament Hill.

The rally was initially aimed at denouncing vaccine mandates for truck drivers crossing the Canada-US border, but the movement morphed into a protest against a variety of COVID-19 restrictions and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Click to play video: 'Alberta Legislature grounds flooded with people supporting Ottawa trucker convoy'

The grounds of the Alberta Legislature were flooded with people supporting the Ottawa trucker convoy

The grounds of the Alberta Legislature were flooded with people supporting the Ottawa trucker convoy

in a press release on sundayOttawa police said large crowds remained in the city center throughout Saturday night and were “actively managed” by police.

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“Officers encountered several challenges with the protesters, including sporadic roadblocks by trucks, which officers worked to clear,” the statement read.

“These high-risk situations were de-escalated and resolved without arrests.”

According to police, officers are patrolling throughout the city center and are “managing the movement of protesters and trucks.”

“PAHO and our partners continue to focus on keeping the peace in and around demonstrations and maintaining emergency access lanes while addressing any high-risk threatening behavior.”

The force said there is a heavy police presence at all major demonstration sites.

“National monuments will be protected and must be respected by all,” the statement said. “Barricades are installed to block any vehicular access to the road in front of the National War Memorial.”

Officers urged the public not to travel downtown.

Officials denounce defacement of monuments

In a Saturday tweet in response to a photo of the Terry Fox statue, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he had asked city law enforcement to remove the upside-down Canadian flag and sign, calling it of “completely unacceptable”.

“This type of stunt by the protesters does not help their cause,” he wrote.

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Brad West, the mayor of Port Coquitlam, BC, where Fox was from, called him a “national inspiration and unifier.”

“Whatever your cause, you cannot appropriate his legacy and not touch his statue. Ever. This must be removed immediately,” he said.

In a tweet on Saturday, the Terry Fox Foundation said Fox “believed in science and gave his life to help others.”

“Thank you to all of our supporters who help us work towards making Terry’s dream of a world without cancer a reality,” the tweet read.

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Additionally, the Chief of the Defense Staff, Gen. Wayne Eyre, said he was “sick to see protesters dancing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and desecrating the National War Memorial.”

“Generations of Canadians have fought and died for our rights, including free speech, but not this,” he wrote on Twitter. “Those involved should hang their heads in shame.”

— with an archive from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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