Twelve protesters were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Monday following the discovery of multiple firearms at a freedom convoy blockade at the busy U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alberta.
The 12 individuals all belonged to the same currently unnamed organisation – described by the police as “criminal” – and 13 long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armour, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and high capacity magazines were found by police in three trailers associated with the group at the Coutts border crossing.
Eleven of the protesters were arrested at the blockade following the search. One individual allegedly linked to the group was arrested later and a further two firearms were seized.
The move came as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced further restrictions on those protesting against his government’s vaccine mandates and protesters count the personal cost of their involvement.
The search warrant was issued after police claimed to have become increasingly concerned about the “militant mindset of a small segment of the protest”. They justified this concern in a statement by alleging a truck and a tractor attempted to ram a police car on Sunday evening, the National Post reports.
RCMP Superintendent Roberta McKale alleged the individuals who had brought the weapons to the blockade “had the intent (of) causing harm” and police had to intervene for the “safety of the public”.
An additional individual was arrested after “semi-accelerating” a vehicle at mounted police officers and then swerving at the last minute into some traffic cones – however, there is currently no official connection between this individual and the 12 other protestors.
Photo supplied by RCMP shows a large assortment of weapons and ammunition seized near Coutts during a crackdown near the Canada/U.S. border. (RCMP image)
No charges have been filed against the 13 arrested individuals yet, but police are considering a multitude of offences including “conspiracy to commit murder“.
The RCMP further claimed the group had a “willingness” to use force against the police, although they do not appear to have resisted arrest.
McKale did admit there were also people at the blockade who were there “to protest” and “very likely didn’t know what was going on”.
Canadian authorities have amplified their efforts to end the Canadian freedom convoy protests, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invoked the Emergencies Act (1988) – the first time the act has been used in its history.
The Emergencies Act allows Trudeau to impose various temporary measures that could include banning people from gathering in certain areas as well as restricting their travel across the country.