Swastikas, other hate symbols displayed at Canadian protest against COVID mandates
Journalists say they were subject to hate speech and violence while reporting on ‘Freedom Convoy’ rally in Ottawa
JTA — Swastikas and other symbols of hate were on display amid a sea of Canadian flags as part of the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” protests against vaccination mandates in Ottawa over the weekend.
The protests, which were organized by Canadian truckers in response to a vaccination mandate placed on truckers returning to Canada from the United States, took place Saturday and attracted thousands to Canada’s capital city. The protests featured a range of groups comparing vaccine mandates to fascism and displaying Canadian flags, and sometimes American flags, upside down. Many protesters held signs with profanity-filled messages for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Among the symbols displayed at the protests were swastikas and, in at least one instance, the Confederate flag.
A member of parliament from the Conservative party, Michael Cooper, went out to show support to the protesters and was interviewed by a Canadian news channel, as a protester with a Canadian flag covered in swastikas walked behind him.
Cooper later released a statement saying he did not know that the symbol was behind him and that if he had, he would have condemned it. “He or she does not represent the thousands of peaceful protesters who waved Canadian flags and acted responsibly. I stand with them and will continue to fight with them,” he wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
Journalists who reported on the protests said they were subjected to hate speech and violence themselves, with one reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation being called a “slave blooded traitor” after asking for an interview with those organizing the protest.
Trying again https://t.co/b8EP9PU8xn pic.twitter.com/yi6yOrPkKm
— Yoni Freedhoff ????, MD (@YoniFreedhoff) January 29, 2022
Former US president Donald Trump gave the Canadian protesters a shoutout at a rally in Texas Saturday. “We want those great Canadian truckers to know that we are with them all the way,” Trump said. “They are doing more to defend American freedom than our leaders by far.”
Bruce Heyman, who served as the US ambassador to Canada from 2014 to 2017, condemned the displays of swastikas and other symbols of hate.
“Both the use of the swastika and the Confederate flag are symbols of extreme hate. So very sad to see these symbols anywhere and especially in Canada,” he wrote in a tweet.