The following statement was issued by Alex Silas, Regional Executive Vice-President, Public Service Alliance of Canada—National Capital Region:
“We unequivocally condemn the racist and threatening ongoing demonstration that overwhelmed Ottawa’s core beginning on Friday afternoon. Racist symbols — including Confederate flags and swastikas — paired with trucks continuously blaring their air horns close to residential areas have no place in our capital city. Not to mention the desecration of the Terry Fox memorial and the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier.
Thousands of residents — and especially Black, Indigenous and racialized persons as well as women, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and persons with disabilities — felt threatened and terrorized in their own neighbourhoods over the weekend. An in-person vigil organized to commemorate the 2017 Quebec City Mosque attack had to be cancelled. White convoy participants harassed and threatened violence against workers at hotels, restaurants, stores and even at the Shepherds of Good Hope shelter. Several libraries, daycares and schools remain closed on Monday. And vaccinations clinics were also forced to close, a feat celebrated by the organizers.
In the face of this, we are also disappointed in the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Police Service. As an activist union, we have held and participated in countless human rights protests in Ottawa over the years. Yet, we have rarely — if ever — seen protestors being treated with the same deference and friendliness the Ottawa police showed those in attendance over the weekend: The city provided them with portable toilets, the police made them a poster — complete with a truck graphic — and officers gave them fist bumps instead of tickets for illegal acts.
The racist double-standard in the way the Ottawa police treats white supremacist protesters compared to Black, Indigenous and racialized protesters fighting for human rights — such as the 2020 Black Lives Matter occupation of the Laurier St. intersection — is deeply concerning.
Let’s be clear: we maintain and uphold the right to protest but this demonstration from the beginning has been a toxic space where hate speech has thrived. The perpetrators of these hateful acts have made our communities feel threatened and the city has done little to make Ottawa residents feel safe. Instead, the city prioritized creating a welcoming space for white supremacists and the protestors who accompanied them and tolerated displays of hatred and aggression.
All residents of the National Capital Region deserve to live in safety and dignity in their communities and the City of Ottawa has yet again failed to ensure this.
This is our city. To the demonstrators: Your hate-fueled demonstration has gone on long enough. Please leave.”