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Chris Barber said early in last year's "Freedom Convoy" protest that he felt things were getting "out of control" and unsafe, an officer who served as an intermediary between organizers and police testified in court on Thursday.

Ottawa police Const. Nicole Bach said Barber expressed that the convoy had "lost sight" of what it was originally intended for on Feb. 2, 2022, a few days after demonstrators first converged on downtown Ottawa.

Bach also said Barber relayed in the early stages of the protests that demonstrators were running low on food and fuel for their vehicles.

Barber and Tamara Lich are facing charges for their role in bringing thousands of big-rig trucks to Ottawa in protest against COVID-19 public-health measures and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government.

Bach testified on Thursday about her interactions with Barber and other convoy participants over the three weeks they were entrenched in the capital's downtown core.

Bach said she recalls Barber telling her that "guys are being starved for fuel and food" on Feb. 1.

"We need to get these issues streamlined as this is not going away," she said she remembers Barber saying in the same conversation.

Bach said Barber also communicated to her that convoy participants were staying in two downtown Ottawa hotels, Swiss Hotel and ARC Hotel, which he referred to as "war rooms."

Bach testified that as she was co-ordinating with Barber in the early days of the protest, she observed "total gridlock" in downtown Ottawa.

Chris Barber said he felt convoy was 'out of control' in early days: police witness. #CDNPoli #FreedomConvoy #EmergenciesAct

She said protesters were agitated and unco-operative with police.

Later, on Feb. 9, Bach said Barber's tone changed as he told her that the convoy would only leave Ottawa if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were to recognize the group and lift pandemic-related mandates.

She testified that he also warned her a forcible police operation with riot gear would be a "big mistake."

The Crown pulled up a TikTok video from Feb. 7, 2022, in which Barber can be heard saying, "This intersection looks lonely … do you think we can fix that?" to another protester.

Bach said that when she texted Barber about the video, he responded with: "Be careful what you see on my TikTok, I'm a guy who likes to whip the s--- up."

She said he maintained in private that he would collaborate with police to clear trucks from downtown.

Throughout her testimony, Bach referred to logs of conversation she had with other police liaison officers during the convoy to refresh her memory.

Bach is one of three Ottawa police liaison offers scheduled to testify in the trial.

The Crown's case depends on proving that Lich and Barber exerted influence over the crowds and truck drivers that blocked off major streets downtown.

On Wednesday, Const. Isabelle Cyr told the court that Barber and Lich's group was just one convoy that made its way to Ottawa as part of the protest.

On Thursday, Barber's lawyer questioned how Bach lost a series of text messages that could be used as evidence in the case.

Bach said she lost all her contacts and messages on her work phone after a mandatory IT update for all police departments. The messages she lost included conversations with Barber and convoy organizer Pat King, who is set to face his own criminal trial later this fall.

The defence is expected to continue its cross-examination of Bach on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2023.

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