'We cannot let this go unchallenged': 'Unwelcome Party' plans to send message to Rolling Thunder Ottawa event
Ottawa residents are planning an “unwelcome party” Friday to send a message to the "Rolling Thunder Ottawa" motorcycle convoy.
“We cannot let this go unchallenged,” says Brian Latour, one of the organizers of the rally.
Community Solidarity Ottawa (CSO), a coalition of community organizations, is organizing the event. The group started during the Freedom Convoy earlier this year.
The “unwelcome party” is planned for 5 p.m. at Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill. It will include a rally and march.
Latour says he is disappointed Centretown residents are having to face another convoy.
"I am feeling very nervous, and I know there are people that have it more than me," Latour said.
CSO says they wanted to do something to send a message to the Rolling Thunder biker rally that they are not welcome in Ottawa. The event also aims to publicly demonstrate how much of a disruption the convoys have had on Centretown residents.
Speaking to media Thursday, Latour raised concerned about the biker convoy's connection to far-right figure Chris 'Sky' Saccoccia. The “Rolling Thunder” website’s schedule says on Saturday there will be a rally and march at Parliament Hill with “special guest speaker Chris Sky.” He is the only person named on the itinerary. Organizers of Rolling Thunder have denied a connection to Sky.
Latour says, “There is also the broader threat that these convoys movements entail. These are very far-right movements with anti-democratic, conspiracy theory views. We are concerned about these impacts, disruptions on our community.”
Latour says the unwelcome party is being held right before the convoy is expected to arrive in the capital.
"I hope it sends the message that hate, and far-right politics aren’t tolerated in our communities, I hope it sends the message that Ottawa isn’t going to stand idly by and be ground zero," Latour said.
Resident Cathy Varrette says she plans on attending the “unwelcome party” to support her community and stand up against hate.
“We need to make our community a hate-free zone," Varrette said.
"It is terrifying for it come, it is terrifying for it to come again, and we need to stop this. I am for the right to protest, but this is not protest- this is terrorism, we are afraid."