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Trucker convoy fundraiser removed from GoFundMe

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An online fundraiser for the trucker convoy protests has been removed by GoFundMe after raising more than $10 million

“GoFundMe supports peaceful protests and we believe that was the intention of the Freedom Convoy 2022 fundraiser when it was first created,” the company said in a statement released Friday evening. “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.”

According to the Feb. 4 statement, GoFundMe determined the “Freedom Convoy 2022” fundraiser violated its terms of service, “which prohibits the promotion of violence and harassment.” A day earlier, the House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee called on the online fundraising platform to testify on how it would ensure funds weren’t being used to promote extremism and hate.

In an online video posted Friday evening, “Freedom Convoy” organizer Tamara Lich said she would raise additional funds on the online platform GiveSendGo to “enable us to get donations into the hands of truckers much, much quicker.” She did not address the specifics behind GoFundMe’s decision.

Since Jan. 29, protests against Canada’s COVID-19 measures have brought downtown Ottawa to a standstill. While many have been demonstrating peacefully, albeit noisily, police have made at least two arrests: one for mischief to property, and another for firearms-related offences. Over the past week, there have also been reports of harassment, threats and assault.

GoFundMe suspended the fundraiser for an internal review on Feb. 2, after it had racked up $10.1 million in donations. The company had previously released $1 million to organizers after they “provided a clear distribution plan… and confirmed funds would be used only for participants who traveled to Ottawa to participate in a peaceful protest.”

According to organizers, funds were being used to help cover costs from truckers’ trips to Ottawa, including fuel, food and shelter, with leftovers going to “a credible Veterans organization which will be chosen by the donors.”

“Given how this situation has evolved, no further funds will be directly distributed to the Freedom Convoy organizers,” the company explained. “[W]e will work with organizers to send all remaining funds to credible and established charities verified by GoFundMe.”

GoFundMe says donors also have until Feb. 19 to request a refund online.

The “Freedom Convoy” fundraiser was the second-largest in Canada for GoFundMe, following only the one created in the wake of the horrific 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash, which raised over $15 million.

“We want to thank @gofundme for listening to our concerns as a City and a police service,” Ottawa Police said on Twitter following the announcement. “The decision to withhold funding for these unlawful demonstrations is an important step and we call on all crowdfunding sites to follow.”

With files from CTVNews.ca Online Politics Producer Rachel Aiello

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