(OTTAWA) Hundreds of people gathered at a church in Ottawa on Sunday to participate in the latest scheduled activity of the “Rolling Thunder,” a series of protests aimed at countering COVID-19 restrictions, in the nation’s capital.
Posted at 10:45am
Updated at 2:29 PM
The Ottawa Police Department has launched an investigation into an act of vandalism that allegedly took place at the Capital City Bikers’ Church prior to the arrival of participants and parishioners. The exterior walls of the church were defaced with inscriptions such as “fascism” or “no paradise for fascism”.
Police have confirmed that their hate crime unit is investigating “an incident of hate-motivated mischief at a religious institution” on Carillon Street, the same street as this church.
However, the graffiti failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the rather peaceful crowd, though some were outraged.
“It’s extremely offensive,” Kimberly McGrath said. I don’t care, but a lot of people will find it traumatic and offensive. †
Four musicians performed Christian rock melodies as worshipers raised their arms. Families and children, sometimes accompanied by pets, entered the church. At the rear of the building was a small bar stocked with soft drinks, snacks and coffee.
“We start talking about hell and then we’re told we’re religious fanatics,” Pastor Rob McKee preached. We all love the story that God is love. So if I were the enemy, I would try to make these people believe that this is untrue, that this is disinformation. †
The participants gathered in the church parking lot after Mass. Many expressed their intention to leave Ottawa, although some spoke of going to a demonstration in Montreal or returning to Parliament Hill.
Like in February
Participants in the series of protests arrived in the country’s capital on Friday afternoon. Large crowds flocked to the center for a variety of activities, including a ceremony at the War Memorial and a rally on Parliament Hill.
The organizers said they wanted to oppose mandatory vaccination, but just like in February, several protesters had a lot on their mind.
Randy Hill, of Penticton, British Columbia, arrived at mass in a red van decorated with Canadian flags and a “Don’t Believe Afraid” sticker. He said he and his wife Carol-Anne are against mandatory vaccinations and other measures the government plans to take.
“We want God to overthrow this government and replace it with righteous people. People in government are accountable to God,” he said.
By mid-afternoon, however, almost all of the demonstrators had withdrawn. There were only a dozen diehards left with Canadian and Quebec flags on Parliament Hill.
Ottawa police said they arrested three people on Saturday, although the protest remained peaceful. The day before, seven other people had been arrested.
A woman was arrested after assaulting police officers on Elgin Street, where the motorcyclist rally was moving. A man has been arrested for violating the terms of his release following the February events.
Another man will face multiple charges, including dangerous driving, assault with a weapon and violating the terms.
Police are also investigating “an incident of hate-motivated mischief at a religious institution,” which was reported to them shortly before 7 a.m. It is not clear whether this incident is related to the meeting.
In another tweet on Sunday, Ottawa police also reported 761 parking tickets, 10 county violations and 39 towed vehicles.
Interim leader Steve Bell has warned protesters not to start a prolonged occupation. However, citizens, including Downtown Community Association president Mary Huang, say they won’t believe him until they see these protesters leaving the city on Sunday afternoon.