Automotive

Ottawa Police Cut Off Freedom Convoy’s Diesel Supply

Police finally did something about the Freedom Convoy that has kept the Canadian capital under siege for over a week now by cutting off truckers’ supplies of fuel and promising to arrest those who provide material support to protesters. With Ottawa’s mayor declaring a state of emergency and GoFundMe cutting off donations, it seems Ottawa’s residents have some small reason to hope sanity may reclaim their city.

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Ottawa’s police chief called the “Freedom Convoy” well-funded, well-organized and dangerous on Friday when police announced the “surge and contain strategy.” The number of protesters swelled over the weekend, creating a particularly lawless few days, according to the Ottawa Citizen:

Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency Sunday after a dystopian weekend of carnival-like scenes, heightened lawlessness, growing tensions between protesters and residents, and relentless noise, diesel fumes and fireworks.

[…]

“They are terrorizing our residents, torturing them with incessant honking, threatening them and preventing them from leading their lives,” the city’s police board chair, Coun. Diane Deans, said Saturday at a tense emergency meeting during which police Chief Peter Sloly said he didn’t have enough resources to end the occupation.

“Clearly, we are outnumbered, and we are losing this battle,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told CFRA. “This has to be reversed. We have to get our city back.”

The “state of emergency” gives the city access to additional powers and resources needed for clearing the siege, the BBC reports. It’s likely a huge relief for Ottawa residents, who have criticized police for not doing enough to protect citizens and their property.

Hundreds took to the streets over the weekend to counter protest the Freedom Convoy, which has closed shops and offices, polluted city streets and locked fearful residents in their homes. One resident even missed a dose of chemotherapy because delivery trucks couldn’t get down their street.

It seems like Ottawa PD also has finally had enough after the lawless weekend. Ottawa police announced on Twitter Sunday that anyone providing material support, such as gas or food, to the protesters would be arrested. One convoy driver told Ottawa Citizen that an officer told them the protesters would also be getting tickets starting Monday. Indeed tickets issued to protesters in the “red zone” shot up from 115 during the protest to 787. Seven people were also arrested over the weekend, up from two since Jan. 28.

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Journalist Judy Trinh was at the Convoy’s logistics camp in a parking lot of the Ottawa Baseball Stadium while police in full riot gear protected Ottawa Fire Department as they worked to safely removed trailers containing fuel:

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The convoy’s originally stated goal was to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into the U.S. It has since blossomed into all manner of right wing conspiracy theories. Canadian tucking associations such as the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association are quick to point out that the vast majority of truckers are vaccinated and are not taking part in the protest. Indeed, the protests actually harmed fellow truckers when last week many were stuck on the U.S. side during a Freedom Convoy blockade of an important border crossing in Coutts, Alberta.

Material support was also cut off from the protester’s popular GoFundMe account, which Freedom Convoy organizers counted on to fund the shutdown for years into the future. The fundraiser hit over $10 million CAD before the company cut off both donations and payouts due to violations in the site’s terms of service. Reports of violence and unlawful activity committed by protesters tripped GoFundMe’s “no funding violence” clause. Police in Ottawa are reportedly working with the FBI due to the large influx of cash from the U.S., Toronto Sun reports. The company is currently going through the process of returning all donations to participants.

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Freedom Convoy organizers have instead turned to a Christian alternative, GiveSendGo, which has raised $4.4 million in donations already. The site is a favorite for the far right, including white supremacists, as the GiveSendGo applies far fewer terms of service on users.

The Ottawa protest inspired a similar protest in Toronto over the weekend, but police we more successful in keeping the trucks away from government buildings and hospitals, the National Post reports. Still, traffic was gnarled in other areas by the steady stream of big trucks and sympathetic protesters.

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