Weekend rally in Ottawa following Freedom Convoy protest

The protests planned for Ottawa this weekend are organized by several people who took part in the occupation of the city for weeks during the Freedom Convoy earlier this year.

“Rolling Thunder Ottawa” and adjacent events are scheduled to begin Friday with events continuing through Sunday. There are different motives for each of the groups officially involved in organizing the event, but the organizers have all been involved with the Freedom Convoy in one way or another.

A group known as “Live From the Shed” has been the most vocal and visible organizer of Rolling Thunder events.

“The Shed” rose to prominence during the Freedom Convoy for providing a 24-hour live broadcast of activities on Wellington Street during what became the occupation of downtown Ottawa.

Jason Vanderwier – often referred to as “Jay from the Shed” – owned the black liner carrying a fishing shack-like structure on its truck bed.

During the Freedom Convoy demonstration, it was a prominent structure to anyone entering the city’s downtown area. Vanderwier was among the first protesters to arrive on Wellington Street, parking the shed near the corner of Metcalfe Street in front of Parliament Hill.

According to statements made on social media videos and in media interviews, Vanderwier’s brother built the shed to reside during the protest.

Several people involved in organizing this weekend’s rally were arrested for activities during the freedom convoy and continued to support related protests. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

The group managed the convoy’s main social media channel

David Paisley traveled from his home in the Kitchener/Waterloo area to attend the Ottawa protests for a weekend, but said he decided to stay longer and get more involved.

Paisley quickly became a “de facto” captain responsible for coordinating fuel and meals for protesters stationed on Wellington.

Soon Vanderwier and Paisley joined others to form what became “Live from the Shed” – one of many popular social media channels that updated curious fans and viewers on what was happening at Ottawa during the convoy.

Paisley, Vanderwier and others regularly filmed their activities and broadcast them to thousands of viewers.

Both were arrested on February 19, and Vanderwier captured his arrest on his own livestream. He was charged with four counts, including mischief and disobeying a lawful court order, before being released.

Paisley was arrested and later released without charge.

Both have continued to participate in convoy-adjacent protests that have taken place in southern Ontario since the Ottawa protests ended.

Steve Bell, acting chief of the Ottawa Police Service, pledges to handle the protests planned for this weekend differently from the early days of the Freedom Convoy in late January. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Veterans 4 Freedom

Live From the Shed’s social media continued to promote various protests. In recent days, Paisley has also become one of Rolling Thunder’s key voices, alongside Neil Sheard.

Sheard, who was featured by Paisley in a “Live From the Shed” video on April 13 as “Neil from the Hill”, rose to prominence after appearing in a video that called on bikers to come to Ottawa for an event at the National War Memorial. , organized by a group calling itself Veterans 4 Freedom.

Sheard says the Rolling Thunder event has “always been about veterans, always about the monument” and aims to “bring dignity back” to veterans.

“Organizers and speakers are veterans only. That being said, it is open to the public and we cannot prevent anyone from attending to show their support,” according to a statement from the group.

While it remains unclear what protesters will do in response to the city’s plans to block vehicles from approaching the war memorial, Sheard’s original intention was to have motorcycles driven before filing a crown and let some people talk. He says the plan is to leave town next.

The group’s steering committee includes Tom Marazzo, who also rose to prominence during the freedom convoy in Ottawa, sometimes acting as the official spokesperson for the protesters. He has since announced his candidacy in Peterborough-Kawartha for the far-right Ontario Party.

Freedom Fighters Canada plans alternative events

Sheard says Rolling Thunder is not associated with a planned adjacent event on Parliament Hill organized by a group known as Freedom Fighters Canada.

This group promotes Rolling Thunder on their website. In an April 6 post on its website, the group wrote “bikers come to Ottawa to peacefully celebrate our FREEDOM!”

He shared a video of Sheard promoting the event, writing, “We want all ATV riders to know they are welcome to join the Memorial Welcome Party! Park your vehicle and come out and support our brothers and sisters. sisters. sisters as they gather around the war memorial and lay the wreath.”

They hold “Fringy Friday” events on a fairly regular basis, where flags and posters are waved in solidarity with “our brothers and sisters who stand against the oppression of the Canadian government.”

Freedom Fighters Canada and its Senior Member, Jerome O’Sullivan, also regularly helped plan and organize events adjacent to the Freedom Convoy around Parliament Hill, often promoting related events on its social media channels.

They are currently coordinating a march through downtown Ottawa on Friday evening.