A year on from protest actions that snarled city streets and blocked border crossings, the “convoy” remains misunderstood, but not in the way most people think.
Hamilton Becoming Front Line of Ontario Hate Group Activity
While Yellow Vests Canada street activity is disappearing across Canada, a Hamilton group is escalating the violence.
Canadian Anti-Hate Network & Yellow Vests Canada Exposed
June 10, 2019
Soldiers of Odin speaking with a passerby on June 8 at Hamilton City Hall. Photo credit: Christine Krahelska.
On Saturday, a Yellow Vests Hamilton rally at City Hall brought out a crowd of between 30 and 50, including the Soldiers of Odin, Proud Boys, the Canadian Nationalist Party, the leader of which recently released an antisemitic video about the “parasitic tribe,” and others.
Two hate group members were arrested, one for attacking a photographer taking pictures the Canadian Anti-Hate Network commissioned for this article and another for headbutting a counter-demonstrator, according to witnesses.
Street-level Yellow Vest activity has declined across Canada following their convoy to Ottawa in February. The anti-Muslim groups, which often played a large role in YV demonstrations, have gone back to organizing under their own banners.
Hamilton is an outlier to this trend. The Hamilton Yellow Vests are now holding regular demonstrations again that bring out the most militant anti-Muslim hate groups and both the rhetoric and violence is escalating.
Yellow Vests Canada Exposed has documented hundreds of calls to violence on Canadian Yellow Vest pages. Several YV supporters are facing charges of uttering threats, such as video blogger Rick Boswick. Others have been arrested and found with, or claim to have, stockpiles of weapons. YV Facebook pages are full of conspiracy theories, anti-Muslim bigotry, and calls for the public officials to be executed.
After the June 1st rally, Yellow Vest Hamilton’s Justin Long bragged that “one of the antifa people was shoved after pushing someone n [sic] had her glasses broken because we took her face covering off to get a picture of her . . . police were there and nobody was charged.” YV Hamilton’s Lisa Thompson of Dundas, Ontario posted a picture of a mask, which she took as a trophy.
A Hamilton anti-fascist tells Yellow Vests Canada Exposed that they were attacked by Soldiers of Odin and Yellow Vests. This is corroborated by a video posted by Long on June 9th which says that the Soldiers of Odin and others were invited to do ‘security’ and “antifa was waiting for us and they took chase after antifa.” Another video, posted by Proud Boys Canada on June 2nd, shows a counter-demonstrator standing on their own when Thompson runs up, hits them in the face and removes their mask, and then taunts and follows the individual as they try to leave.
Lisa Thompson did not respond to a request for comment.
Commenting on a post by Justin Long in the lead up to the June 8th rally, supporter Steve Stapleton from Lake County, British Columbia suggested they follow the counter-demonstrator’s leader home and “beat the shit out of him.” Andy Taylor from Saint John, New Brunswick added, “Ensure no cameras or witlesses [sic].”
Photographer Christine Krahelska was approached by three Soldiers of Odin when she left the body of the June 8th rally to take a picture from a different vantage point.
“They crossed the street, somewhat surrounded me and blocked my way back to the group. They approached quickly and they said things like, ‘so you like taking pictures of us? Well how about this? We won't be letting you go back to your friends,’ . . . I put the camera up to my face to start filming the encounter and the biggest man immediately punched the camera, and consequently my hand, trying to knock it out of my hands to break it, he successfully knocked a piece (the lens hood) off. The camera was strapped to me so it just fell to my side. One of the other SOO ran to my lens hood and stomped on it . . .
The individual who punched me was immediately arrested and another individual was cautioned and then later arrested [when] he head-butted one of the counter protestors and broke their nose.”
This is the latest in a series of premeditated attacks by far-right hate groups. On March 30 in Edmonton, for example, a Soldiers of Odin member was arrested after a collection of hate groups found and attacked counter-demonstrators after a Worldwide Coalition Against Islam rally.
In a June 9th video, Justin Long says it’s his goal to clear anti-fascists out of Hamilton and then move on to another city, maybe Niagara Falls. They are holding another rally in Hamilton next Saturday.
We have made the editorial decision not to provide links to the videos, which the Canadian Anti-Hate Network has saved, to protect the privacy of the victim.