OTTAWA, Ontario – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other liberal Canadian leaders have slammed the trucking “Freedom Convoy” as spreading “hateful rhetoric” and expressing “violence toward fellow citizens.” But protesters on the ground say that’s not the case at all.
“I have not seen one negative flag here. No Nazi flags or anything like that,” one woman protesting in Ottawa, who has been in the capital since Friday, told Fox News Digital.
“The truckers and supporters here have made an effort to say that we will call out any violence or hatred that we’re seeing, and we’ll report it to the police,” the woman continued. “So we’re all on the same page here. We don’t want to see any violence. They didn’t drive all this way to promote any violence or hate. They’ve come here to make a very peaceful statement that we would like to stop mandates and we’re supporting free choice.”
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Trudeau accused the truckers and protesters of spreading “hateful rhetoric” this week and said they are “an insult to memory and truth.” Media headlines have also focused on “swastikas and public urination” and protesters carrying swastika and Confederate flags and defacing statues.
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To protesters on the streets, however, their message is love and peace.
“We don’t see any racists. We don’t know what race is. All we know is love, the language of love,” one man told Fox News Digital.
Another protester said he did see one man with a swastika flag, but said a cameraman followed that man instead of focusing on the “joy and love that other citizens are showing us.”
One protester said that a couple statues were defaced with swastikas, but that the people who committed the vandalism “have nothing to do with the convoy or the freedom of the people.”
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The Freedom Convoy of truckers left Vancouver for Ottawa on Jan. 23 to protest the federal government’s vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers and is calling for an end to coronavirus restrictions. The convoy reached Ottawa this weekend and police estimated between 5,000 to 18,000 people were on the streets Saturday. The number is estimated to have come down to the hundreds of protesters as of Wednesday.
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“I’ve not seen a single act of violence. I haven’t seen any racism. It’s been absolutely the most classy and peaceful protest I’ve ever seen,” another protester said.
Police in Ottawa did say this week they are investigating some possible criminal charges regarding people allegedly urinating on a war memorial, displaying a sign reading “Mandate Freedom” on the statue of Canadian athlete Terry Fox. Two people were also arrested in connection to “mischief to property” and carrying a weapon to a public meeting.
Police set up a hate crime hotline this week, but admitted that the protests have remained peaceful. There have been no riots, injuries or deaths since the protests kicked off over the weekend.
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Disturbances have instead come in the form of honking horns, gridlocked traffic and chanting from protesters and some fireworks.
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“We just had a citizen of Ottawa come up to our truck in tears, thanking us. And he has never seen this town, this city, as clean as it is now because we the people are picking up after people that have no respect for the city,” another protester told Fox News.