Freedom Convoy protesters who are trying to retrieve their seized belongings say Ottawa police are giving them a hard time, and that thousands of materials and other items are now missing and unaccounted for.
Ottawa Police Service (OPS) says it seized only 41 items when it cracked down on convoy demonstrations between Feb. 17 and 20. Among these are generators, heaters and barbecues which were either purchased by the protesters themselves or donated by supporters.
OPS claims that six of the 41 items have been returned but that 35 pieces of equipment remain locked up and in their possession.
“As with any property, the owner can provide proof of ownership to retrieve their item,” OPS told CBC News. “Receipts, serial numbers, and photos of items are acceptable means of identifying the property.”
According to several protesters, the OPS have blocked attempts to retrieve equipment and materials worth thousands of dollars.
“As best we can tell, everything was kind of thrown in trailers and taken out of there as quick as possible,” said organizer David Paisley, who hosts Live from the Shed. “Time was the overarching priority, so everything was very rushed.”
“If they truly only have 41 items in their possession, then either a significant amount of items were thrown out, or there’s some contractor somewhere sitting on a large number of items.”
Paisley said that when he went to ask for his items back, police asked for the name of his arresting officer and a case number – information which Paisley says he was never given.
Ben Froese – a crane operator who flew a Canadian flag in front of Parliament Hill – has been trying to retrieve his flag after he said police caused approximately $2,500 worth of damage to his truck.
“I still haven’t heard if it was actually taken somewhere as evidence. My flag is still a big question mark as to what they did with it, if they just threw it out to the garbage, I don’t know,” said Froese.
Karl Duvall, who helped manage the protests’ Coventry Road distribution hub, said that “tens of thousands of materials” had been removed by someone and that police didn’t allow the protesters to take away the items themselves.
“It’s an incredible amount of stuff. There’s tens of thousands of materials there, if not hundreds of thousands of material there, that was taken off Wellington,” he said.
“There’s a lot of stuff that shouldn’t have been taken.”
As first reported by True North, the OPS has dismissed the majority of complaints launched by protesters against officers for their conduct during the February crackdown.
A report filed before the Ottawa Police Services Board found that only 3% of the complaints were forwarded to investigation despite 2022 seeing a 324% spike in the total number of complaints received.