Mapping hate: The anti-LGBTQ2S+ history of Ottawa truck convoy organizers

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3/4/22

Although participants of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” that descended upon Ottawa last month claimed it was a peaceful protest against COVID-19 restrictions, it was primarily organized by far-right activists. Many of the key organizers have also been linked to anti-LGBTQ2S+ activist groups and have expressed homophobic and transphobic views themselves. From Jan. 29 to Feb. 23, Ottawa was occupied by a largely anti-government, anti-vaccine protest that led to the arrest of 191 people. During the occupation, a number of protesters openly displayed hateful iconography such as swastikas and Confederate flags, and a window of a coffee shop displaying a rainbow flag was smashed. The House of Commons approved—and then revoked—the Emergencies Act amid the disruption in the nation’s capital. Thousands donated to the “Freedom Convoy” crowdfunding campaigns, raising millions of dollars. While platforms like GoFundMe cancelled donations and refunded donors, the scope indicates the protest has garnered more than just fringe support, even as the majority of Canadians do not support the activists and oppose ending public health measures. Although the demonstrations in Ottawa are now over, the discourse continues: arrested organizers are fighting the charges against them, the House of Commons public safety and national security committee is taking testimony about convoy donations and revelations continue to emerge about its participants and donors. A similar far-right “Freedom Convoy,” meanwhile, has popped up in New Zealand, suggesting anti-mandate stances may continue to galvanize right-wing groups in Canada and around the world. The Canadian convoy consisted of a massive number of people, with dozens helping to organize different parts of the protests. While media coverage broadly refers to them as “organizers” or “leaders,” it’s difficult to verify their exact roles.

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