A far-right American Christian website that raised money for deadly shooter Kyle Rittenhouse is now pulling in millions of dollars for an anti-vaccine mob of truckers that has paralyzed downtown Ottawa for 11 days.
The Christian site had already raised a massive $5.6 million as of Monday evening. It was also fundraising for similar convoys planned for U.S. cities. The site also supported a campaign to raise money for Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager who killed two people and wounded a third at a protest against racial injustice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. Rittenhouse was acquitted in November.
Tens of thousands of far-right supporters from across the U.S., Europe and farther afield have quickly mobilized to support the Canadian truckers, according to an analysis by Politico of messages on the right-wing social media platform Telegram. “This isn’t about the Canadian truckers who started the protest anymore. It’s now a rallying cry for the far-right globally,” Politico declared Monday.
“U.S. political figures and content creators … really gave [the movement] a boost that made it global,” said Ciaran O’Connor, an analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that tracks online extremism.
“Donations from abroad are quite a common part of any large crowdfunding campaign,” he added. “But the scale of this one is unprecedented.”
Dark money for the truckers is difficult to trace on fundraising websites because people aren’t identified or use false information. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported last month that at least a third of the donors for the truckers on GoFundMe were unnamed or were obvious aliases.
Analysis from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that multiple U.S. right-wing groups and similar organizations from Europe and Australia had donated to the now-defunct GoFundMe page, Politico reported.
The funds raised are unprecedented for anything similar in Canada — indicating very deep pockets are behind the money, Canada’s National Observer has reported.
Ottawa on Sunday declared a state of emergency over the strong-armed protest against vaccine mandates at the border by the rogue truckers, who have been accused of harassing area residents and shoppers, even assaulting some, and ripping masks off residents’ faces.
“We’re in the midst of a serious emergency, the most serious emergency our city has ever faced,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
“Someone is going to get killed or seriously injured because of the irresponsible behavior of some of these people,” he warned.
The convoy began after the U.S. and Canada both started requiring truckers who cross the border to be fully vaccinated, according to The Washington Post. Now, though, the blockade has become a general protest against all public health rules.
The truckers’ convoy was hit Friday with a $9.8 million class-action complaint for relentlessly blasting their air horns for 16 hours a day while jamming downtown Ottawa streets. A judge on Monday ordered truckers to stop blaring their horns, which can permanently damage hearing.
University of Ottawa associate criminology professor Michael Kempa said the truckers’ anti-vaccine claim is partially a cover for a dangerous authoritarian drive aiming to use the drivers and their semis as a violent force to undermine the rule of law and upend the government. One of the organizers behind the protest, Canada Unity, has called for the government to be toppled.
The truckers were instantly supported — and GoFundMe’s reaction was quickly attacked — by right-wing U.S. politicians and others, including former PresidentDonald Trump and Donald Trump Jr., Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Republican attorneys general who want to launch an investigation into GoFundMe for its police-requested action against a foreign protest organization.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who’s under indictment for alleged securities fraud, boasted in a tweet last week that “patriotic” Texans were helping fund the foreign protest operation — and he vowed to investigate GoFundMe.
Major Canadian tucking associations, including the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Ontario Trucking Association, have disavowed the protest. The Trucking Alliance said the vast majority of its members are fully vaccinated and are continuing to work.
Police have begun to crack down on the truckers, confiscating fuel and handing out tickets. It they fail to clear the streets soon, the next step would be to call in the military to establish order, Kempa said.
Where it stands in #OttawaOccupation: Would the various protest organizers and funders please explain to Canadians whether you share all of the same goals, including Canada Unity's calls to dissolve the elected gov't? #cdnpoli#onpolihttps://t.co/USrTmKNPsQ
— Michael Kempa (@MichaelKempa1) February 7, 2022
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.