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Ottawa Mayor Thanks GoFundMe for Seizing $8 Million in Donations Meant for Freedom Convoy Protestors

Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: February 6, 2022
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Freedom Convoy protesters against vaccines mandates continue to party into the night on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. Truckers continue their rally over the weekend near Parliament Hill in hopes of pressuring the government to roll back COVID-19 measures and mandates. (Image: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The mayor of Canada’s capital, Jim Watson, has publicly thanked crowdfunding site GoFundMe for withholding CAD$10 million donated in support of the Freedom Convoy demonstration currently in Ottawa. 

“I want to sincerely thank the team at @gofundme for listening to the plea made by the City and the Ottawa Police to no longer provide funds to the convoy organizers,” Watson wrote in a Feb. 4 tweet

Despite the Freedom Convoy being organized around the trucking profession, Canadian authorities and mainstream mass media have accused the movement — which according to some estimates has gathered tens of thousands of participants — of being a violent and white supremacist “occupation,” rather than a legitimate exercise of public assembly.

The Freedom Convoy, which began as a protest against the Canadian federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for truckers crossing the border to the U.S., snowballed into a much larger movement, with thousands of vehicles descending on Ottawa at the end of January. 

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GoFundMe earlier allowed CAD$1 million to be provided to the protesters, which translated into supplies and food. But on Feb. 4, the crowdfunding site froze CAD$10 million (about US$8 million) and said the money would be redirected to “established charities verified by GoFundMe.” 

“Following a review of relevant facts and multiple discussions with local law enforcement and city officials, this fundraiser is now in violation of our Terms of Service (Term 8, which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment) and has been removed from the platform,” the GoFundMe site says. 

Curbing public assembly

Many trucks and other vehicles remained parked around Parliament Hill, the seat of Canadian government, as the protest entered its second week. The protesters and organizers say they will stay until the government lifts its pandemic restrictions. 

Mayor Watson applauded GoFundMe’s decision as a means of dispersing the protests. “I’m hopeful that limiting their access to … funding and resources will restrict their ability to remain in Ottawa,” he said in the Feb. 4 tweet.

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Police march towards Wellington Street on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. (Image: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

While the authorities and media have accused the Freedom Convoy of violence and disorder, such claims are contradicted by Canadian police officers, locals, and observers. 

One incident that saw some truckers enter a homeless shelter and take plates without permission ended with the movement organizers providing cooked food for the homeless. 

Despite a few arrests made since the protesters arrived in Ottawa, police reports of crime have in fact decreased, according to Blackrock’s Reporter, while police have noted no injuries or riots in connection with the Freedom Convoy. 

Daniel Bulford, a retired officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said at a Feb. 3 press conference that he had “very reliable information” that the several violent incidents were “not associated” with the movement. 

“It’s a constitutional freedom to protest peacefully,” John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), told The Epoch Times. 

Carpay, whose organization is providing legal representation for the Convoy organizers, said that there is no evidence linking the movement to violence or criminal activity. “I would like to see what evidence there is,” he said. “That’s political spin.”

“They’re not obstructing the daily lives of people in Ottawa, and they’re committed to peace and non-violence,” he said.

Supporters of the Convoy are now using alternate means to get money to the truckers in Ottawa, with hundreds of thousands raised in the hours following the GoFundMe ban.