613-819 Hub condemns racist double standard of police response to trucker convoy

February 1, 2022 – Ottawa –  The 613-819 Black Hub condemns the racist double standard of police response to the “Freedom convoy” that has occupied a chunk of Ottawa’s downtown core since Friday night.

According to social media and news accounts, the convoy was accompanied by dozens of violent incidents including the homes of downtown residents being vandalized for having Pride flags, harassment of journalists, unhoused people and small business owners and the presence of swastikas and confederate flags. Media reports also said protesters parked, danced and urinated on the War Memorial and kept residents up by blowing their horns well into the night. The protest caused businesses in the downtown core, vaccination clinics and an elementary school to close. 

The Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women released a statement on the convoy saying, “This hate mob is overtly threatening and intimidating women, others from marginalized communities, and those working in precarious low-paid employment.” They said they heard of accounts of young women being followed, almost run over, and threatened with rape.

Despite this, the Ottawa Police said they laid no charges.

This is in stark contrast to how police responded to Black and Indigenous protesters who blocked one Ottawa intersection in November 2020 to protest police treatment of Black and Indigenous people following the October 2020 acquittal of Ottawa police officer Daniel Montsion in the death of Abrirahman Abdi. espite knowing that the protesters had a meeting arranged with city councillors and Ottawa Police Service Board members at noon Saturday, the Ottawa police moved in around 3am Saturday morning and forcibly removed the protesters, arresting and charging 12 of them. The police said they did this because, “The demonstration disrupted regular traffic and blocked an important route for emergency responders. This caused multiple safety issues.”

Convoy protesters were quoted as saying that the police were helpful and friendly.

“The double standard couldn’t be more blatant”, said 613-819 Black Hub co-lead Robin Browne. “We suspect that if the truckers had been Black and Indigenous the police would have reacted very, very differently”.

The 613-819 Black Hub calls on the Ottawa Police Services Board and City Council to fulfill their obligations, under provincial law, to provide community and safety and well-being to all Ottawa residents and freeze the Ottawa Police Service budget.

The Board took the first step toward freezing the police budget this year. This double standard shows how the OPS harms, not helps, community well-being and safety and why the Board and council should cut their budget and fund things that actually keep all Ottawa residents safer like mental health supports and housing.