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Ottawa Braces for ‘Rolling Thunder’ Biker Protest; Counter Protesters Organize

Published: April 28, 2022
Thousands of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts crowd the streets of Port Dover, Ontario, for the Friday the 13th gathering on July 13 2018. A convoy of hundreds, some say thousands, of bikers are converging on Canada’s capital of Ottawa this weekend to rally in support of freedom. (Image: GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

A convoy of hundreds of bikers, some estimate thousands, is set to descend on Canada’s capital region this weekend just four months after the Freedom Convoy protests paralyzed parts of the capital’s parliament district.

Organizers say they are rallying to celebrate freedom.    

Local and federal authorities are preparing for the convoy’s arrival, closing off roads to vehicles and increasing police presence, recruiting hundreds of additional police officers to patrol the region.

Per the official Rolling Thunder website, organizers say, “We do not support blockades, obstruction of police performing their duties, damage to property, or hate & vitriol directed to the residents of Ottawa.”

The organizers are encouraging all participants to “follow all legislation including the Highway Traffic Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.”

The organizers warn that “during the lawful Trucker Convoy protest there were clear attempts by provocateurs, saboteurs and embellishers to tarnish the peaceful and loving movement. All attendees and participants should be cognizant of this and if you witness any unlawful action, report it to the nearest police officer.”

The group plans to gather for a rally and march on Parliament hill on the evening of April 29. The following morning the group will be holding a ceremony at the Canadian War Memorial featuring Veterans for Freedom, who, according to their website is “a grassroots organization comprised of Canadian Armed Forces veterans who are mobilizing a nation-wide movement of peaceful, lawful, civic action.”

The ceremony is to be followed up by another rally and march on Parliament Hill with a bike show to be held later that evening at a location that is yet to be announced.

The event is to be capped off with a church service on the morning of May 1.

‘Unwelcoming Party’ planned in response

A group, Community Solidarity Ottawa (CSO), a coalition of community organizers, residents and labor unions, are planning on hosting an “Unwelcoming Party” on Friday in opposition to those taking part in the Rolling Thunder rally. 

Per the CSO website the group was formed to “build a working-class movement that can defend our communities and our rights,” saying “no to white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and all other forms of hate that the convoy has directed at residents.”

Brain Latour, a CSO organizer, told the Toronto Sun, “We have to do something to make sure that they feel unwelcome,” adding that “We’re wanting to show our opposition to the convoy and also to (…) build those connections so we can build a stronger more resilient community because I think these people have plans to keep coming back.”

Details about the CSO event are still in planning but it is expected that the “Unwelcome party” will likely be a counter-protest with a focus on bringing the community together, Latour said.