An Ottawa-based progressive advocacy group has called for a stronger police response to upcoming freedom events planned in the nation's capital — while also supporting the defunding of the police.
Events are planned to celebrate the arrival of Canadian veteran James Topp in the city, in conjunction with the Canada Day weekend. The planned celebrations have prompted hesitation from people who say they are concerned about disruption to residential neighbourhoods, and have labelled the proceedings as being part of a 'far-right' movement.
According to True North:
“It seems to me that their plan is always to sort of protect the parliamentary precinct, but they sort of just leave residential neighbourhoods there to dry,” Horizon Ottawa’s Sam Hersh told The Canadian Press.
“I want to see an acknowledgment of what this actually is from our city and from the relevant authorities: that this is a far-right movement, and that we should take it seriously. And they’re not welcome in our city.”
In a news release, Horizon quoted statements shared by anti-capitalist organization Community Solidarity Ottawa, and wrote that “‘freedom movement events are nothing more than a revival of February’s anti-democratic ‘Freedom Convoy’ occupation of Ottawa.”
Horizon Ottawa’s news release also said that the actions of freedom protesters “and the far-right politics they represent are a direct threat to our community and a broader threat to our safety and democracy.”
Despite calling for a strong police response to the freedom events, Horizon Ottawa has a history of advocating for the defunding of the police. In February, the organization called for the immediate freezing of the police budget as well as a commitment to "detasking and defunding" the Ottawa Police Services. They have called for funds to be redirected towards public health and "real community safety."
Freedom Ottawa also held a press conference in February featuring activist Robin Browne, who called for the abolition of the police on the grounds that they had failed to protect residents from the freedom convoy.
The progressive organization also opposes the presence of police officers in school through the School Resource Officer program, claiming that it "exposes children to human rights violations, a racist school-to-prison pipeline, and gender-based violence.”