COPS AND CONVOYISTAS – A MATCH MADE IN HELL
Cops like fascists (*). This is hardly rocket science. But the thin blue line’s infatuation with the far right has gotten so far gone that even the mainstream media can’t ignore it any more.
As the occupation of Ottawa dragged on with little to no law enforcement from law enforcement, the Ottawa Citizen’s op-ed complaints of police inaction were replaced by editorial board condemnations of the Ottawa Police for “appeasing” the convoy.
Perhaps the best indicator of this change in media coverage to date has been the CBC’s Fifth Estate program on the antivaxx occupation of Ottawa. For perhaps the first time a Canadian prime-time audience was given an in-depth look at the fascist leaders of the convoy, and equally important, the police complicity accompanying it. This program marked a first serious look at the alarming collaboration between Canada’s police forces and the far right, but even so it failed to convey the full scope of that collaboration. In fairness to the CBC, that’s at least partly due to the fact that there is only so much you can squeeze into a feature that’s 42 minutes long. So in the interests of full and balanced coverage, let’s look at the extent to which the police have supported a movement whose stated goals include the ouster of the federal government and the abandonment of public health measures against a pandemic that has – so far – killed at least six million people worldwide and over 37,000 in Canada alone.
A BLOSSOMING ROMANCE
At the very beginnings of their movement, many antivaxxers were wary of the police. But that quickly changed when they found out that police across the country signaled their support for a paranoid, conspiracy movement, in many documented instances refused to enforce the law when it was being broken by the antivaxxers, and in many cases openly advocated for and recruited to that movement.
This institutional bias is nothing new. To give only one example, the Vancouver Police Department has an established history of standing by and letting fascists disrupt left-wing / anti-racist / union events. In March 2017 it allowed members of the Soldiers of Odin to assault participants at an anti-racist rally and even lied to protect them.
According to one participant at the rally, “it is debatable whether the VPD intervened to stop the attack or rescue the SOO members. They were temporarily detained, chatting amiably with the VPD officers and smoking cigarettes on the sidewalk, then released without charges just as the rally wound up, putting rally participants, including many women of colour, at extreme risk. This VPD practice was repeated a few months later following the neo-nazi torchlight parade and subsequent murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville Virginia. A planned anti-immigration and Islamophobic event at City Hall was prevented by over 4000 Vancouverites filling the grounds and surrounding streets with messages of peace, tolerance and solidarity. The VPD incident commander threatened to arrest the anti-racist organizers, mostly high school teachers, if they brought in just one vehicle pulling a trailer with a portable stage and sound equipment. This again put the many prominent speakers at risk from agitators or provocateurs. These included then mayor Gregor Robertson, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, faith leaders and others – including an MLA conveying a message of support from Premier Horgan. With sight lines obscured and no clear separation from the large crowd, protection duties once again fell on a volunteer security team. The mayor – who was also chair of the Police Board - and the CBC crew covering the event apparently shared the expectation that the large VPD presence was of no value to their personal security; they both arrived with private bodyguards hired for the occasion.”
Four years later, VPD practice has consistently followed the same pattern. For two years the local antivaxx movement has consistently violated provincial health orders and mask mandates, and for two years the VPD has refused to enforce the law. Sometimes this inaction has been attributed to the risk of officers being assaulted by peaceful antivaxxers if they attempt to issue tickets to violators as happened on New Years’ Eve 2020, when the VPD complained “ticketing and arrests could escalate an already passionate situation, and when there are larger groups of people, the risk of injury to both protestors and police officers rises.”
Most often, however, VPD has not even bothered to explain its hands-off approach to antivaxxer aggression, like the incident on August 14, 2021 when antivaxxers disrupted a rally of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. Vancouver police stood by, did nothing to prevent it, and actually intervened to protect the disruptors.
Four months earlier, Maxime Bernier and Derek Sloan had held an anti-transrights rally at the same location, maskless, in violation of provincial health orders.
VPD’s only action in response was to disperse a peaceful counter-protest (whose participants were fully masked and socially distanced.
I’m disturbed that the @VancouverPD decided to disperse a peaceful (and safe) counter-protest in favour of allowing a superspreader hate rally to continue. The #vancouver #LGBTQ community sees what side you’re on. #bcpoli #vanpoli @CityofVancouver @kennedystewart pic.twitter.com/LUVbsj8ruZ— Dr. Catherine Jenkins 🇺🇦 (@cate_jenkins) April 10, 2021
Instead of enforcing provincial health orders, @VancouverPD / @ChiefPalmer now breaking up peaceful car counter-protest by diverting traffic @NEWS1130 @cbcnewsbc @cbcnews @GlobalBC #bcpoli #vanpoli pic.twitter.com/qDsSSh2y45— Dr. Catherine Jenkins 🇺🇦 (@cate_jenkins) April 10, 2021
The @VancouverPD and @ChiefPalmer refusing to hand out tickets and enforce provincial health orders at transphobic superspreader hate rally. @CityofVancouver @GlobalBC @NEWS1130 @CBCNews @CBCVancouver #vanpoli #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/JuL7yBBsSO— Dr. Catherine Jenkins 🇺🇦 (@cate_jenkins) April 10, 2021
To make their affinities perfectly clear, on February 5 2022 the Vancouver police arrested five activists counter-protesting a large antivaxx convoy in Vancouver. However, when a convoy member driving a semi intentionally struck a counter-demonstrator with his truck and then left the scene, there were no charges whatever.
"Peaceful protesters" ploughing right into a First Nations woman. Across the street, VPD were chit-chatting, oblivious. pic.twitter.com/PbpscTriNf— Major Gay Radical Soy (@Vancouverismism) February 8, 2022
It’s hardly surprising to find that antivaxxers in Vancouver have interpreted this as a signal from VPD that “hey, we’re on your side.” No New Normal activist Lydia Nielsen summed it up neatly – “I would just like to give a shout out to all of Vancouver Police Department and RCMP amazing officers who are monitoring my freedom activist personal page and groups that i have heard they are to ensure we are peacefully protesting and not terrorists like Trudeau lies about us. I know you know we are only freedom loving, joyful patriots. Thank you for your service and for always upholding my rights. Thank you VPD for not being like nazis like many other police forces around rest of Canada and the world. Thank you for your respect and care for our protection from hateful covidian cult members." No wonder one of the most frequent chants heard at antivaxx rallies in Vancouver is “we love VPD”. It’s true. They do.
They pose for selfies with them
They get on together just fine
COPS SIGNALED THEIR SUPPORT FROM COAST TO COAST
Throughout the occupation of Ottawa, police across Canada actively signaled their support both for the convoy and for the antivaxx movement in general.
During the occupation, the city of Ottawa was spending $800,000 a day on policing. Much of that involved police standing around not doing much of anything.
Police have avoided ticketing.— Nora Loreto (@NoLore) January 31, 2022
To all the folks on twitter begging for the police to help them, please take a hint. You have to help yourselves. https://t.co/mLeitK9SRt
On January 30 an antivaxxer threatened to stab a store employee, but there was no police investigation.
My 16-yr-old works at @TimHortons at Bank and Cooper. When he told a patron he must wear a mask to be served, the guy threatened to stab him (but didn’t brandish weapon). Supervisor called police and guy fled. OPS said they wouldn’t follow up on complaint bc assailant was gone.— Paul Champ (@PaulChampLaw) January 30, 2022
Ottawa police helped antivaxxers set up their tents
When convoy organizers refused to allow them into their logistics camp, the police backed down
Ottawa Police weren’t allowed inside the Coventry logistics central camp to hand out warning flyers about imminent arrests if protestors don’t leave. Here’s how it went down around 2pm.— Judy Trinh (@judyatrinh) February 17, 2022
“This is not illegitimate” pic.twitter.com/h6CMcwhSkr
They continually allowed blockaders to bring gas, diesel and propane into the Red Zone despite the fire hazard
The Ottawa Police Chief was asked about getting gas to truckers who needed fuel yesterday.— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) February 2, 2022
“There will be no assistance provided for gassing vehicles” #cdnpoli #ottnews #TruckerConvoy2022 https://t.co/33kPHAwUgG
By the truckload
Even after the Emergencies Act was invoked, police continued to allow fuel into the camp
19. There is also this.https://t.co/OLP0WyX6Uo— Kurt Phillips🧛♂️ (@ARCCollective) February 8, 2022
They let blockaders use their squad cars as props
The person who sent me this said this Ontario Provincial Police officer allowed protestors to use his vehicle like a “carnival ride” It happened Thursday around noon pic.twitter.com/0bcIoywBJu— Judy Trinh (@judyatrinh) February 11, 2022
And right to the bitter end hugged for the cameras
On his livestream, protesters made a point to note that TPS was better to them than the more intimidating officers with batons (RCMP I believe) https://t.co/pwgDv9ySnI— Drew (@nolifeneet) February 20, 2022
Ottawa Police seemed to be at times more concerned about potential counterprotesters than they did about the convoy
Some Ottawa cops went on camera to support the convoy “100%”
Even an Ottawa Police Board member was out organizing publicly in support of the occupation
NOT JUST AN OTTAWA THING
Victoria police supported the antivaxxers
In recognition of VicPD giving a literal thumbs up to anti-vaccination and white supremacist protests, here’s a thread of FOI’d VicPD emails showing how it developed its policy that officers do not have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and can instead take tests. #cdnfoi #yyj pic.twitter.com/EhljzRXI1m— Stephen Harrison (@step_harrison) January 30, 2022
And the antivaxxers supported them right back
Chilliwack RCMP stood back while a crowd of unmasked antivaxxers invaded a minor football game. It wasn’t a surprise, as they’d been tipped off in advance. They did nothing.
Kelowna RCMP refused to enforce health orders too. Repeatedly…
And shook Chris Sky’s hand after getting him to leave a restaurant he had barged into unmasked
Also did you see the actual video of the handshake? It really does look like Chris and co were asked to leave. He trips over himself to be super polite and shake the cop’s hand haha pic.twitter.com/lNtzv0bqIX— Scary Poppins 💀☂️ (she/her) (@hexnoir) April 24, 2021
White Rock RCMP’s initial response to a blockade at the U.S. border was to hug the blockaders. And to eat donuts with them
Nanaimo RCMP outdid them all. On November 1, 2021, Mounties led Chris Sky and a large group of antivaxxers into a Canadian Tire in Nanaimo, in violation of both provincial health orders and (apparently) Criminal Code prohibitions against trespassing.
Now, Chris Sky is no ordinary antivaxxer. He’s one of the movement’s key national leaders. And a proven anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic Holocaust denier
Sky is currently facing charges in six separate police jurisdictions across the country. One incident in Ontario resulted in charges including uttering death threats against politicians and assaulting police with a weapon.
Saccoccia allegedly threatened "to shoot a member of the public and elected officials" and during his arrest, Saccoccia allegedly nearly hit a police officer with his vehicle: pic.twitter.com/zr54djTyUb— James Wattie (@jameswattie) May 20, 2021
The charges were considered serious enough that Sky’s firearms were seized and his firearms certificate was revoked. Apparently that didn’t bother the Nanaimo RCMP particularly.
Edmonton Police have protected the Proud Boys in the past
Ever notice how Canadian media and government love to talk about Proud Boys in the US but make scant mention of their activities in Canada (outside of Gavin McInnes being from here)?— Drew (@nolifeneet) March 22, 2021
Maybe here's a clue as to why. https://t.co/Ubjc7TroO9
So it wasn’t surprising that they denied a tiki torch march led by Christofascist Artur Pawlowski was the least little bit racially tinged, even after Charlottesville
Dear Chief McFee: perhaps the use of imagery from a white supremacist rally and the presence of ACTUAL KNOWN WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS might give your crack team of investigators a clue as to the intent of the torch march?https://t.co/osN1zZMb1j— Bridget Stirling (@bridgetstirling) March 2, 2021
Nor that Edmonton police stood by and ignored antivaxxers who were violating a court injunction
The RCMP embracing and hugging the Coutts blockaders is certainly disturbing but it's not an isolated incident. Here in Edmonton we had a court-ordered injunction to stop honking. Not only was it not enforced but we got scenes like this. pic.twitter.com/5U9fvZx3fg— The Progress Report (@ProgressAlberta) February 15, 2022
Coutts RCMP thought the truckers blocking the border were “great
And hugged them
Coutts police honors, greets and hugs truckers who have blocked the US - Canada border for 18 consecutive days. pic.twitter.com/RL4F7l0JBh— RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) February 15, 2022
Despite having had convoy supporters assault officers six days earlier
While threatening to charge counterdemonstrators under Jason Kenny’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act (which they never used against the convoy)
Saskatoon Police refused to enforce the law against antivaxxers
Peel Regional Police sergeant Paul Brown, uniformed and on duty, posed for selfies. There were no consequences
Toronto Police have “a good rapport” with the antivaxxers. Despite that, it’s not always reciprocated by the antivaxxers
An anti-masker threatened Toronto Police during their march yesterday.— Tony (@TonyYvce) January 24, 2021
"There's a lot more of us than you fuckers, and we've got guns too."
"We've got more guns than you guys got so fuck yourselves." pic.twitter.com/7HRpQ38Kwc
But doesn’t stop the cops from being friendly with Chris Sky
Their courtesy doesn’t extend to people wearing masks, though
Regarding this week's antivax marches in Toronto. I got this note from a City of Toronto employee yesterday who wishes to remain anonymous because they say city workers have been warned for being critical of the police on Twitter.— Three Geese Radius (@shawnmicallef) September 3, 2021
Fredericton Police also decline to enforce the law
A LOT OF POLICE SUPPORT FOR THE CONVOY WAS ACTIVE
Not all of the Ottawa occupation’s support from police was passive. Many were actively recruiting for it, and donating to it. As of March 2, at least 26 OPP and Ottawa Police officers were under investigation for contributing to the convoy through GoFundMe and GiveSendGo
One uniformed officer posted a video to social media supporting the convoy. She and another Edmonton cop were suspended for supporting the convoy
Edmonton officers on leave after uniformed video, speaking at Coutts protesthttps://t.co/MvP7EghXFB— CTV Edmonton (@ctvedmonton) February 16, 2022
One unidentified Mountie went on Facebook denouncing Justin Trudeau as a “sociopath” and calling on police to use their sick time – “blue flu” – to book of work and obstruct law enforcement against the convoy
Several ex-Calgary Police were organizing for the convoy, including this guy
And this one
They were joined by several active duty Calgary officers, including this one
Hey @CalgaryPolice is this guy one of yours? He identifies himself as an active member in this video circulating in groups of #FluTruxKlan including the #CouttsCrisis seditionists. https://t.co/zuisawVygZ pic.twitter.com/6jtTURFYa1— Central Alberta Against Racism 🟩 (@ActionCentralAB) February 8, 2022
This cop supported the convoy “to bring Canada back to normal”
@convoytoottawa Canadian police officer offers support. #convoy #convoy2022 #freedom #truckersforfreedom #convoytoottawa2022 #freedomconvoy2022 #canada #protests ♬ original sound - Convoytoottawa2022
Had a uniformed officer post a video of herself to social media supporting the convoy
POLICE ON GUARD FOR THEE
There is so much support among police for the antivaxx movement that a group has been set up intended specifically to recruit among police and military personnel. Police On Guard has become a regular fixture at antivaxx rallies. One of its central leaders, Chris VandenBos, is an active duty officer in the York Regional Police. VandenBos has a Youtube program, and has hosted neonazi Jeremy Mackenzie on it.
On it, VandenBos stated “"It's like with Police On Guard I think what resonates most often with most [police] officers who are joining, whether it be retired officers, or active service, or military or whatever, is they're seeing the same things you and I are talking about, and they're trying to find an out, they're trying to find a way to be an advocate for change, and I can tell you every one of us in our group, we're not wanting it to turn to civil unrest and violence and all that, we're trying to go about the best possible route, to reinstate everyone's rights in the best way possible, and we're trying to be leaders and to show with leadership that we are willing to take that stand first, but we're asking that everyone stand behind us, get behind us, help us push forward and get this accountability in place."
MacKenzie has been quoted saying “you can't vote your way out of this...the only viable solutions are illegal and I'd be jailed publicly for saying them". He was arrested on weapons charges in January
One of Police On Guard’s other leaders, Marcus Anthony Ray, is a former RCMP officer who now supports the sovereign citizen movement. He told a Kelowna rally in November 2021 that “politicians are no longer human.”
Some months after Police On Guard was formed, another group, Mounties For Freedom, was set up specifically to recruit among RCMP members. One of its leaders is Daniel Bulford, an ex-RCMP officer who served on Justin Trudeau’s personal protective detail. Bulford was the Ottawa convoy’s director of security. He was arrested at the end of the occupation.
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COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Toronto Police vs. the houseless (2021)
It's heartbreaking to find out the Ontario Gov. saved $5.5 billion this year, when this is how we chose to treat people experiencing homelessness instead of providing housing.— Ahmed Ali (@MrAhmednurAli) March 3, 2022
Policy choices aren’t about what we can afford. They are about who we value.
RCMP vs. old growth protectors (2021)
RCMP vs. Wet’suwet’en land defenders (2021)
(*) The Canadian antivaxx movement is not a fascist movement. Yet. At its base it is a broad heterogenous conspiracist movement that started off as an unlikely mishmash of camps, currents and conflicting interests and constituencies, ranging from Peoples' Party of Canada activists to Christian fundamentalists to wellness advocates to yoga moms to small business people devastated by the lockdowns to outright Nazis. However, over the intervening eighteen months the base of this movement has increasingly consolidated around a core set of beliefs. The pandemic is planned. It is a conscious campaign by George Soros / Bill Gates / Klaus Schwab / the UN / the World Economic Forum to carry out the Great Reset. It is a conspiracy by capitalists to destroy capitalism and usher in a Communist new world order. In its extreme form, this belief system holds that in order to carry this out, vaccines are being used to cull the human population. In its most extreme form, the target of this plot is our children.
From its inception, this movement has harboured Nazis in its ranks. The first Vancouver demonstration in April 2020 was organized by three individuals, one of whom, Brian Ruhe, was a flagrant advocate of Adolf Hitler and made no attempt to hide it. What was significant was not the presence of a lone fascist like Ruhe or an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier like Marco Pietro in their ranks, but the fact that they were accepted and even welcomed by the rest of their movement with no visible dissenting voices. The movement was not fascist – it was, rather, a movement with a mind so open the wind blew through it. Even now, it would be inaccurate to call the movement fascist. But it is very much a precursor to fascism.
However, the leadership of the movement – particularly the leadership of the Ottawa convoy and occupation – is predominantly fascist. https://unmasktheright.org/profiles-in-extremism
Judging by their conduct, a whole lot of cops support them.
We should not be expecting police to save us from fascism. We will need to do that ourselves.