AP PHOTOS: Huddling around fires, dancing at Ottawa protest

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Hugs under the falling snow, dancing in the street, people warming themselves around fires. That’s what the last few hours of a truckers’ protest outside Parliament looked like in the Canadian capital.

For more than three weeks, semitrucks, cars and pickups sat idle along streets in downtown Ottawa, as hundreds of truckers and other protesters parked side by side and bumper to bumper to oppose vaccine mandates and other COVID restrictions. The demonstrations also created a political crisis for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The protesters set up camp in what authorities called an illegal occupation, and refused police orders to leave. The long honks of semitruck horns blared through the streets, despite a court injunction against it. Some protesters settled into the locked cabs of their trucks or set up tents, while others warmed themselves around small fires as snow fell. A few danced, to songs like the Beastie Boys anthem “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!).”

Late Thursday and into Friday, police moved to break up the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” which also had included blockades at border crossings with the U.S., with economic implications for both countries, and had the support of right-wing activists and some prominent U.S. conservatives. Hundreds of officers descended on the area, and tow truck drivers — the identities of their employers covered — arrived to begin the slow process of clearing the clogged streets.