Residents show solidarity with Centretown residents impacted by four weekend 'Freedom Convoy' demonstration
A meetup organized by Community Solidarity Ottawa provided a space to heal and a sense of hope, as the city and its residents recover from the "Freedom Convoy" demonstration.
"This experience has harmed me and others, there’s no question," Centretown resident Claire Hurtig said. "The fear for my safety was based in knowing if I disagreed with convoy protesters it was not safe to express that. My safety could be threatened and I could be met with violence.”
The meetup in Minto Park on Elgin Street, just over a kilometre from Parliament Hill, was an opportunity to show support for residents in the neighbourhood - some harassed, verbally abused or living in fear during the occupation.
“They have the right to speak their mind with mandates and that is fine but when the line is crossed advocating for xenophobia and hate and white supremacy," said Hassan Husseini, one of the Community Solidarity Ottawa organizers. "This is where we say no."
"Community care and mutual aid is our biggest hope," said Saffar Binder, holding a sign that read, "We keep ourselves safe."
Handing out posters and pamphlets, organizers also encouraged residents to support businesses in the red zone and connect with neighbours.
"I hope we can spread the word we have not fallen after the occupation," Martin Riguelne said.
"The disruption really impacted my mental health, my work, my studies," Sinda Garziz said.
"We’ve seen regular people, not police, not government, be the real ones standing up against the convoy and I hope we can keep doing that," Hurtig said.
Local organizations and residents are planning to meet again next Saturday for a community solidarity march. Organizers say it will also be a chance to show support for frontline workers -- calling on additional public health safety for workers, those with disabilities, Indigenous, Black and racialized people affected by the pandemic.
"We are looking to hold our city, our mayor, police forces and government accountable for letting this happen," Husseini said.