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OTTAWA (LifeSiteNews) — Ottawa police have vowed to seek to identify all those involved in the city’s Freedom Convoy protest this past weekend and to punish them criminally.

“If you are involved in this protest, we will actively look to identify you and follow up with financial sanctions and criminal charges,” interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said during a Saturday press conference in response to a journalist’s question about “intelligence gathering” and possible “repercussions” for protesters.

Bell said the investigation will be “complicated” and “will go on for months to come.” He explained it will be pursued “from a federal financial level, from a provincial licensing level, from a criminal code level, from a municipal breach of court order, breach of court injunction level.”

Ottawa Police’s Twitter account reiterated Bell’s exact statement on Sunday about pursuing protesters to press charges. The declaration was met with a trickle of supporting comments and a deluge of criticism.

“These words are more like something from the Soviet Union or Communist China than anything resembling a free Western nation,” one Twitter user said in one of the most popular comments, with 8,019 likes.

“It’s not too late for you to just quit your jobs. You don’t have to actively engage in human oppression,” another wrote.

At least 191 protesters have been arrested, and 107 charged, so far by Ottawa police in connection with Ottawa’s Freedom Convoy protest, including Convoy co-organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber.

Barber had been charged with “counseling to commit mischief, obstruction, counseling to commit obstruction,” and Lich has been charged with “counseling to commit mischief.”

Ottawa police had warned Friday night, “Anyone within the unlawful protest site may be arrested.”

Western Standard columnist Linda Slobodian lamented the weekend’s announcement by Ottawa police, remarking that the police have “shattered trust” of Canadian citizens: “The badged thugs in Ottawa just made their jobs harder, shattered trust earned during long, hard shifts immersed in society’s often dangerous muck.”

“How much honour will police forsake to appease Trudeau’s globally criticized agenda?”  Slobodian wrote.

Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell of New Mexico said Saturday that she would introduce legislation to grant temporarily asylum to “innocent Canadian protesters who are being persecuted by their own government.”

“We cannot be silent as our neighbors to the north are treated so badly,” she added.

The Freedom Convoy has gained massive support throughout Canada, with tens of thousands turning out to march in Calgary alone this past weekend in solidarity with the protesters in Ottawa.

An Ontario policewoman who has spoken out against restrictions on Canadian freedoms, believing them to amount to a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, advised Canadians in a short YouTube video, “Please know that there are officers all over Canada that want nothing more than to see our country return back to the beautiful state that it was,” she said, adding that “a lot of us do want to speak out and come forward but we can’t because we’re being reprimanded when we do so.”

Former Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly stepped down February 15, shortly before protesters in Ottawa were disbanded. A Canadian federal government official anonymously claimed his resignation followed criticism of his lax approach to enforcement against the protesters, leaving “many” “wondering why police hadn’t done more to intervene.”