Scores of protesters are descending on the Canadian capital of Ottawa as part of the “Rolling Thunder” convoy over the weekend. The event, which does not have a stated goal beyond “peacefully celebrating freedom”, was organized by bikers affiliated with tis past winter’s protests against vaccine mandates. The event is set to take place a little over four months after “Freedom Convoy” protests were violently suppressed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government.
The key organizer of “Rolling Thunder,” Neil Sheard, has said the event is not a “protest” or a convoy. Sheard added that the bikers — whose numbers are estimated anywhere from 500 to 3,000 — plan to leave on Sunday. after the event takes place.
Sheard has been leading protests in Peterborough against draconian pandemic measures since 2020 and participated in the Freedom Convoy protests on Parliament Hill this winter.
— Julie 🇨🇦 (@McSweenIsle) April 29, 2022
Ottawa police have warned that a Rolling Thunder “occupation” would result in a law enforcement crackdown similar to February. Officers in riot gear could be seen setting up barricades while tow trucks remain ready to prevent any vehicles from camping out.
In February, Prime Minister Trudeau referred to the Freedom Convoy protests as an “illegal occupation” and deployed Canada’s Emergencies Act for the first time in the nation’s history in order to quell the peaceful protests. Protest leaders, who explicitly called for peaceful demonstrations and said they would disperse if mandates were lifted, were arrested and slapped with serious charges.
One leader, Tamara Lich, was held in jail for over a month after being denied bail.
After using terrorist financing laws to seize the movement’s funding, Canadian police ruthlessly cracked down on the peaceful protest. Dozens were injured in the crackdown that drew condemnation from across the Western world.
Trudeau uses riot horses to stomp on unarmed, peaceful protesters. pic.twitter.com/tPl6mILS4z
— Ezra Levant 🍁🚛 (@ezralevant) February 18, 2022
— Steve Oatley (@steveoatley) February 20, 2022
Both Ottawa and federal officials seem to be taking the same heavy-handed approach for this weekend’s protests. Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell is “considerably concerned” that not all members of the Rolling Thunder convoy will follow the organizer’s plans. Police are preparing for the chance that protesters will “attempt to settle” in the city for days or weeks, as they did in February.
Bell has stated that officers are “ready to act” if this is the case.
There are cement barricades, no entry signs, and police stationed at strategic checkpoints.
— Caryma Sa’d – Lawyer + Political Satirist (@CarymaRules) April 29, 2022
Ottawa bylaw officers are patrolling the area of Parliament Hill.
A man was threatened with a $500 fine for using his megaphone!
— Alexandra Lavoie (@ThevoiceAlexa) April 29, 2022