Ottawa Declares 'State of Emergency' Due to Freedom Convoy, Ted Cruz Calls for Investigation of GoFundMe
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The mayor of Ottawa declared a state of emergency Sunday after thousands of protesters opposed COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates paralyzed the downtown area of Canada's capital city.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Jim Watson pleaded for help, saying authorities were "outnumbered" and are "losing this battle" against the demonstrators.
Watson said the declaration highlights the need for support from other jurisdictions and levels of government, according to The Washington Post. It gives the city some additional powers around procurement and how it delivers services, which could help purchase equipment required by frontline workers and first responders.
The truckers joined about a hundred other demonstrators in the "Freedom Truck Convoy" who have remained in the city since last weekend.
The truckers' protests began when a new mandate was issued by the Canadian government on Jan. 15 that they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before crossing into the U.S. As CBN's Faithwire reported, the U.S. enforced the same requirement on truckers entering that country on Jan. 22.
After nonstop blaring of horns and traffic disruptions, Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly called it a "siege" that he could not manage.
Ottawa Police Threaten Convoy Supporters
The Ottawa Police Department also tweeted a warning Sunday that supporters who bring aid like gasoline to the truckers could be arrested.
"IMPORTANT: Anyone attempting to bring material supports (gas, etc.) to the demonstrators could be subject to arrest. Enforcement is underway," the department said.
Since the truckers arrived in Ottawa on Jan. 29 to protest the vaccine mandate, other citizens have donated fuel to the convoy.
On Monday, Alexandra Lavoie, a journalist with Rebel News, tweeted a video showing police officers dressed in tactical riot gear, complete with automatic weapons, seizing gas and other fuel, but protesters remained peaceful, singing "O Canada!", the nation's national anthem.
Several media outlets also reported demonstrations were held to protest the nation's COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend in other cities, including Toronto, Quebec City, and Vancouver.
Ottawa protesters have said they won't leave until all mandates and COVID-19 restrictions are gone. Police Chief Sloly responded by saying all options are on the table, including calling in the military, to end the ongoing demonstration that was being called an "occupation" by some on the city council.
But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later walked back the police chief's comments, saying a military response to the ongoing Ottawa protest against vaccine mandates is "not in the cards right now."
GoFundMe Blocks Fundraiser
The Canadian truckers have gained worldwide support for their desire to stand up for freedom of choice. A crowdfunding GoFundMe account was set up by convoy organizers and raised millions of dollars that were intended to be dispersed among the truckers to help cover the cost of their trip.
But as CBN News reported Sunday, after GoFundMe said it would refund or redirect to charities the vast majority of the millions raised for the Canadian truckers, several U.S. leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz protested.
But GoFundMe had already changed its mind and said it would be issuing refunds to all. The site said it cut off funding for the organizers because it had decided they were involved in unlawful activity.
DeSantis tweeted that he planned to "investigate" the company, accusing it of fraudulent activity.
"It is a fraud for @gofundme to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing," the governor wrote. I will work with @AGAshleyMoody to investigate these deceptive practices — these donors should be given a refund."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he also asked the Federal Trade Commission to launch its own investigation into GoFundMe following the removal of the Freedom Convoy's crowdfunding campaign from the platform.
"Today I sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking that the FTC open an investigation into GoFundMe into whether they've committed deceptive trade practices," Cruz told Fox News on Sunday. "Because when people gave money, they gave money under the promise it would go to the Freedom Convoy, not to whatever left-wing political ideology GoFundMe and other Silicon Valley companies support. They are deceiving consumers and it is wrong."
Meanwhile, truckers in other countries have also started organizing their own convoys to protest COVID restrictions.
Fox News reports truck drivers in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom are hitting the road to send a clear message: stop the mandates.
And a group of American truckers is also organizing a protest against President Biden's vaccine mandate, planning to drive from California to Washington, D.C.
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