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GoFundMe pulls donations from anti-vaccination protesters traveling through Canada

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Donation platform GoFundMe has seized all funds from a campaign supporting anti-vaccine mandate protesters that have been congregating in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. 

In a statement from the company, GoFundMe said it had reason to believe the protest had turned dangerous. “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,” GoFundMe wrote.

Before the Feb. 5 decision, the GoFundMe fundraiser had already accumulated more than $10 million from 120,000 donors. The website will automatically refund all campaign donors. The Ottawa police are also calling on other donation platforms to pull campaigns for the Freedom Convoy.

GoFundMe previously paused donations to the campaign on Feb. 2, alerting site users that the company was working alongside local law enforcement to receive more information about the convoy and its use of the campaign’s funds. 

Donations were going toward the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” a group of Canadian truck drivers and their supporters who have taken an extreme step to protest the new COVID-19 regulations imposed by the Canadian government for travelers across the border. The convoy is currently demonstrating in downtown Ottawa, with an expected 2,000 people and 400 trucks to join the protest group over the weekend. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new regulations in Nov. 2021, requiring previously exempt travelers, such as truck drivers, to show proof of vaccination before entering the country or quarantine after entry. The new protocols went into effect on Jan. 15. Small protests starting on the west side of the country last week quickly grew into a large cross-country convoy, which at one point blocked a U.S.-Canadian border crossing point. Now, the convoy’s mission has morphed into a general campaign against government control. 

The convoy has also caused transportations delays and business closures, damaged public property, and led to the arrests of three protesters — one for carrying a weapon in a public meeting, another for “mischief,” and a third for issuing threats over social media. At least 13 other people were being investigated for their involvement in possible illegal activities. Families and children have also joined the protest group in Ottawa.

One of the organizing groups, Canada Unity, has asked the Canadian ​​governor general and Senate to end all public health measures, The Washington Post reported. The Canadian Trucking Alliance issued a statement on Jan. 29 supporting COVID-19 regulations and denouncing the non-peaceful actions of some protesters.  

As the group convenes in the capital, public health officials have spoken out against the congregation. Canadian law enforcement are ramping up security around the capital, and a possible 1,000-person counterprotest may also join the downtown demonstrations in defense of the government mandates. 

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