Tamara Lich makes her way back to the courthouse following a brief break on the first day of the trial for "Freedom Convoy" organizers Lich and Chris Barber, Tuesday, September 5, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Scale and length of ‘Freedom Convoy’ exceeded police prediction, criminal trial hears

An Ottawa police officer who helped co-ordinate the response to the 2022 “Freedom Convoy” in the capital city testified today that the demonstration was expected to last one weekend, although police knew a core group of protesters could remain.

Insp. Russell Lucas was called as a Crown witness in the criminal trial of key protest organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.

Lich and Barber are co-accused of mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, obstructing police and intimidation for their role in the three-week demonstration.

Thousands of people and big-rig trucks gridlocked Ottawa to protest COVID-19 public health measures and the federal Liberal government, which eventually invoked the Emergencies Act.

Lucas says more than 5,000 trucks arrived on the first weekend of the protest in late January, which far exceeded police expectations.

The Crown’s case rests on its assertion that Lich and Barber orchestrated the blockades on Ottawa roads and that they encouraged their supporters to remain in the city after police ordered them to clear the streets.

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