Canadian Freedom Truckers in Ottawa are hit with $9.8M lawsuit by fed-up residents

7 months ago

GoFundMe cancelled a fundraiser for truckers protesting Canada's vaccine mandates despite promoting money raising efforts for a Capital Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) participant.

The Freedom Convoy campaign, which raised nearly $8 million USD for truckers,  was nixed Friday by GoFundMe for violating its terms of services 'which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment.'

Conversely, it actively endorsed a campaign in 2020 for a CHOP participant despite active riots in Seattle. GoFundMe retweeted a Bloomberg article featuring farmer Marcus Henderson, who started a garden to feed the protestors.

'In a community with no police, this farmer is feeding people & bringing them closer together,' the tweet said with a link to the fundraiser. 'Learn how you can support Marcus' mission within the CHOP'.

GoFundMe also allowed numerous BLM-related fundraisers, some of which still remain active, that strived to raise funds for protective gear and medical supplies for protesters in the Pacific Northwest. 

As well as missing out on donations to support their efforts, Canadian truckers were also hit with an $8.9 million lawsuit by an Ottawa resident who claims their protests are affecting the quality of life in the nation's capital.

GoFundMe actively promoting the fundraising efforts of a participant in the 2020 Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, where participants looted and vandalized businesses

During the Seattle protest, GoFundMe allowed a number of BLM-related fundraisers, some of which still remain active, that strived to raise funds for protective gear and medical supplies for protesters in the Pacific Northwest.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk called the fundraising platform out last week for its perceived hypocrisy.

'Double-standard?' Musk questioned on Twitter Friday night, sharing a screenshot of a tweet the crowdfunding platform published in 2020, amid active riots in Seattle.

During the 2020 protests, two teenage boys were shot - one fatally - as property was destroyed and buildings  were tagged with graffiti. 

Meanwhile, an Ottawa resident unable to sleep from the constant honking of horns by Freedom Convoy truckers who have shut down the Canadian capital for more than a week is suing the protest's organizers - as GoFundMe said it will refund the $8 million donated to group. 

Zexi Li filed a $9.8million lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court on Friday, seeking damages for 'emotional and mental distress', citing ongoing headaches, sleeping difficulties, difficulty concentrating and interference with quiet enjoyment of her home. 

'The Class Members are living in daily torment caused by the incessant blasting of truck horns,' reads the statement of claim. 

The lawsuit, filed by lawyer Paul Champ, categorizes two types of damages: the first, worth $4.8 million, for 'private nuisance', while the second is for 'punitive damages,' worth $5 million. 

The suit accuses convoy organizers Chris Barber, Benjamin Dichter, Tamara Lich, Patrick King and other unknown semi-trucker drivers, thought to be up to 60, who have honked their horns in protest on a daily basis. 

The truckers convoy has parked itself in the city for more than a week, but officially started across other parts of Canada on January 22, protesting COVID-19 restrictions — in particular vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the Canada-U.S. border. 

Since then, protesters have blocked access to the city's core near Parliament Hill, and have blared truck, car and train horns. 

The lawsuit claims the constant honking, up to 12 to 16 hours per day, has affected Li.

'When the Plaintiff ventures outside, she is almost immediately subjected to heckling by members of the Freedom Convoy, yelling at her to remove the mask she wears to protect herself and others from contracting COVID-19,' the lawsuit reads.

'When she ignores the heckles, members of the Convoy respond by honking their horns which invariably causes the Plaintiff to flinch. When the Plaintiff flinches, the hecklers cheer loudly.' 

It also mentions Ottawa police's lack of action, who has previously told Li that it can't do much about the constant noise, which has contributed to her anxiety, indicating that she has contacted the department at least 14 times.

The lawsuit, classified as class action, remains open to any residents in Ottawa who live within an area of the city overwhelmed by the protest. 

Supporters against vaccines mandates continue to party into the night on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. Truckers continue their rally over the weekend near Parliament Hill in hopes of pressuring the government to roll back COVID-19 public health regulations and mandates

Dear Freedom Convoy Truckers, my client Ms Li is making an offer to settle the proposed class action against those who have been blaring their air horns in downtown Ottawa.

Depart in peace, and ye shall be released. See video…more details to come with the release.

— Paul Champ (@PaulChampLaw) February 5, 2022

Semi-truck drivers blowing their horns have caused distressed to Ottawa's residents after a woman filed a lawsuit against the 'Freedom convoy' on Friday. Pictured: A supporter thanks a trucker on February 5, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada

The lawsuit's filing comes after Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly on Friday labelled the protest now as an 'occupation.' Canadian Transport minister, Omar Alghabra, also didn't hold back against the protesters, calling the removal of mandates as 'quite unreasonable.'

'I understand people are frustrated and we want to hear all points of view and I ask that they all engage with their officials,' Alghabra said. 'But occupying downtown, Ottawa downtown, or other cities is not going to advance their cause and its going to cause all kinds of destructions that are unnecessary and unaccepted. 

Roughly 5,000 people took part in demonstrations in Ottawa this weekend, police said, while crowds of a few hundreds of people gathered in Toronto, and Quebec City, which was also hosting its annual winter carnival.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has come out in support of the truckers against 'the harsh policies of far-left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane COVID mandates.' 

The truckers' 'Freedom convoy' has parked itself in downtown Ottawa for more than a week, but officially started across other parts of Canada on January 22. Pictured: A truck convoy in downtown Toronto this weekend

Protesters near Parliament Hill hold signs condemning the vaccine mandates imposed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on February 5, in Ottawa, Canada in an effort to help truckers with pressuring the government to roll back COVID-19 public health regulations and mandates

Truckers, farmers and cowboys have been blocking the US - Canada border for nine days. An epochal protest for freedom. They wrote history.

— RadioGenova (@RadioGenova) February 6, 2022

GoFundMe also took action after consulting with Canadian authorities, effectively removing the fundraiser that collected more than $8 million due to a violation of the terms of the service. 

The website also decided not to redistribute the amount to charities, instead giving donors a refund for their contributions to the cause, amid widespread backlash and a potential fraud investigation. 

'GoFundMe supports peaceful protests and we believe that was the intention of the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser when it was first created,' GoFundMe announced. 

'We now have evidence from law enforcement that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation, with police reports of violence and other unlawful activity.' 

The fundraising website added that donors can expect to see refunds within seven to ten business days.

'To simplify the process for our users, we will be refunding all donations to the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser. This refund will happen automatically - you do not need to submit a request,' the website tweeted. 

Meanwhile, the likes of Elon Musk and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have voiced their support for the protest and took aim at GoFundMe for freezing the money raised in support of the demonstrators.

'It is a fraud for @GoFundMe to commandeer $9M in donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing. I will work with @AGAshleyMoody to investigate these deceptive practices - these donors should be given a refund.'

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also applied pressure to the website, while stating on social media that he would similarly launch a fraud investigation of his own.

'Patriotic Texans donated to Canadian truckers' worthy cause using GoFundMe. This BLM-backing company went woke, froze the funds, & failed to deliver Texans' money,' Paxton wrote. 

'Today I assembled a team to investigate their potential fraud & deception. Texas donors will get Justice!' 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk questioned whether there is a 'double-standard,' and cited past fundraisers for legal funds in defense of the likes of Antifa members and other protesters who had broken the law while demonstrating. 

Video of the incident has since circulated on social media, showing a group of protesters as several are struck by the Jeep, with many chasing the vehicle as it sped from the scene

Pictured: the white SUV, center, as it plows through the crowd of protesters on Friday night in Ottowa, injuring four people total 

One of four injured parties, pictured above, being struck by the Jeep SUV on Friday night during the Freedom Convoy at the Legislative grounds

A Canadian man has also been criminally charged after he drove an SUV through the Freedom Truckers protest of COVID-19 regulations on Friday evening.

Police in Winnipeg said the driver, who was not immediately named, use his Jeep Patriot to plow through the crowd for coronavirus mandate protesters at the Legislative grounds before fleeing the scene at high speeds.

The driver was eventually caught by police and arrested after a brief struggle, according to authorities.  

'A 42yr old male is facing charges after driving through a group of protesters that were part of the Freedom Convoy at the Legislative grounds,' the Winnipeg Police tweeted Saturday. 

'Four adult males were struck.' 

Video of the horrific incident has since circulated on social media, showing a group of protesters as several are struck by the Jeep, with many chasing the vehicle as it sped from the scene.

A 42-year-old male from Headingly, Manitoba, faces charges of four counts of assault with weapon, two counts of dangerous operation of a conveyance causing bodily harm, one count of dangerous operation of a conveyance, two counts of failure to stop after accident, and two counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident. 

After the SUV crash, one person was taken to a nearby hospital before being released, while three others sustained only minor injures, which did not require medical attention. 

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