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.
Mayor Dale Bumstead
MLA Mike Bernier
MP Bob Zimmer
Dawson Creek RCMP
We represent the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (antihate.ca), a non-profit organization which monitors hate groups and their activities in Canada. We deliver information to the public and media and we provide information and evidence to law enforcement, and have done so on several criminal investigations across Canada.
Our advisory group is made up of Canada’s leading experts on hate groups and hate crimes, including human rights lawyers, academics, journalists, court-recognized experts, and leaders in targeted communities.
We are writing you this public letter today because we are deeply concerned by reports that the Soldiers of Odin are active in your community, engaging in volunteerism and participating in civic events, seemingly with the tacit acceptance or support of some public officials.
The Soldiers of Odin are an anti-Muslim hate group. They were founded in Finland by a self-identifying neo-Nazi who has been found guilty of racially motivated assault. It’s well documented that the Canadian organization has attracted white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Several political parties and figures in Canada have disavowed the support of the Soldiers of Odin, like the United Conservative Party in Alberta. Others have found associating with the Soldiers of Odin to be a setback to their political aspirations. There is a growing recognition of what the group represents.
The statement by the RCMP that the Soldiers of Odin are not a concern is incorrect. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network and others have documented overtly racist statements targeting Muslims and other groups, and posts celebrating or encouraging violence.
Whether the local chapter engages in these behaviours is besides the point – you wouldn’t welcome a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in your backyard even if they were doing garbage pickups and promised never to burn a cross. By using the same name, engaging in volunteerism, and finding the tacit acceptance of prominent figures in your community, they are whitewashing the Soldiers of Odin brand Canada-wide.
We call on you to send a strong message that you do not support hate groups such as the Soldiers of Odin operating in your community, and that they will not be part of any community policing plan.
Bernie Farber, Chair
Richard Warman, Board Member
Amira Elghawaby, Board Member
Evan Balgord, Executive Director
The United Conservative Party and the Soldiers of Odin
Controversy in Alberta sparked by UCP nomination candidates posing for a photograph with the Soldiers of Odin, an anti-Muslim group with ties to neo-Nazism. Here's what you need to know.
October 23, 2018
UCP candidates pose with Edmonton-based Soldiers of Odin on Oct 5. Source: Facebook.
United Conservative Party nomination candidates were photographed at an early October pub night in Edmonton with members of the Soldiers of Odin, a militant anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant group.
The Soldiers of Odin was originally founded in Finland by Mika Ranta, who has a conviction for a racially-motivated assault and self-identifies as a neo-Nazi, according to The Times of Israel.
In Canada, the Soldiers of Odin have leaders and members with demonstrated ties to white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The organization splintered throughout 2017, but chapters with dozens of members are still in operation.
The UCP pub night was held at Brown’s Social House in Edmonton on Oct. 5. In attendance were three UCP candidates running for the party’s nomination in the Edmonton-West Henday constituency who posed for photos with Soldiers of Odin members wearing branded Soldiers of Odin shirts, hats, and vests.
Two of the candidates have since said they were also unaware that members of an extremist group had attended the pub night.
“Had we known at the time, we certainly would not have had our pictures taken with these individuals,” Nicole Williams and Leila Houle said in a joint statement.
The third candidate in the race, Lance Coulter, was disqualified by the party for defending the Soldiers of Odin, saying he was aware of their white supremacist views but found them “polite” and “cordial” at the event. In a Facebook post on his campaign page, Coulter accused Williams and Houle of lying in their statement.
"I was disqualified because I refused to lie when the party asked me to, unlike the two other candidates," he wrote in a Facebook post.
The UCP constituency association condemned the views of the Soldiers of Odin and said party representatives would have asked them to leave had they known what "S.O.O." represented. UCP Leader Jason Kenney described the Soldiers of Odin’s appearance at the party function as an act of “political mischief.”
The UCP has blamed the appearance of the Soldiers of Odin on Dave Bjorkman, an organizer for the fringe Alberta Independence Party. However, Bjorkman also appears to be a UCP member, based on screenshots of emails he shared on Facebook which included his membership number and an invitation to the pub night. The party did not respond to questions from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
"This is not an isolated incident," says Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley, who attributes the incident to UCP's dog-whistle politics.
The Soldiers of Odin group in Edmonton whose members attended the UCP pub night announced it was renaming itself the Canadian Infidels. A spokesperson for the group told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network the group will continue its activism, including street patrols. They claim the Canadian Infidels are open to everyone, and that it is a "pro-Canadian" group that stands against terrorism. On its Facebook page, the group continues to share anti-Muslim and anti-immigration messages.
A different Soldiers of Odin group in Edmonton continues to operate as the ‘Soldiers of Odin’ and disavows any connection with the rebranded splinter group.
Sudbury councillor Robert Kirwan is being criticized for comments supportive of the Soldiers of Odin, a militant anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant group originally founded in Finland by Mika Ranta, who has a conviction for a racially-motivated assault and self-identifies as a neo-Nazi, according to The Times of Israel.
In Canada, the Soldiers of Odin have leaders and members with demonstrated ties to white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The organization splintered throughout 2017, but retains a sizable membership in Quebec and several smaller, local chapters are still in operation.
Some Soldiers of Odin chapters have been picking up needles and doing other charitable works, a common public relations tactic used by other far-right groups like Atalante Quebec, which provides meals to white, homeless Quebecois. Councillor Kirwan says he supports the Soldiers of Odin's "good work" in Sudbury.
Kirwan doubled down after being criticized for his comments, calling the Soldiers of Odin "a group of citizens in this city who have done nothing that has caused any harm to our community."
The Soldiers of Odin are a regular presence at anti-Muslim demonstrations in Canada.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network is concerned about demonstrations being held by far-right groups on Parliament Hill in Ottawa this weekend, July 14-15, 2018.
The demonstrations, being promoted as a ‘Canadians for Canada’ rally and a ‘Unite the Right’ rally are being organized by the Canadian Combat Coalition (C3). The leader of C3 claims it will include groups like Storm Alliance, Soldiers of Odin, Sons of Odin, the Canadian Jewish Defence League, the III%ers, and Northern Guard.
Members of La Meute, Storm Alliance, and other groups at a previous demonstration on Parliament Hill.
As originally reported by Anti-Racist Canada, part of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network team, the Soldiers of Odin and Northern Guard have leaders and members with demonstrated ties to white supremacy and neo-Nazism.
Members of the Canadian Jewish Defence League have been charged with a hate crime in the United States for their role in the beating of a Palestinian professor at the AIPAC conference in 2017.
The III%ers are an anti-Muslim ‘militia’ group which is stockpiling weapons, conducting paramilitary training and staking out mosques. In the United States, members of a III% militia group plotted to blow up an apartment full of Muslim immigrants. The Canadian leader, Beau Welling, has posted “The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,” on Facebook.
Speakers include Kevin J Johnston, a Youtuber from Mississauga who is currently charged under S 319 of the Criminal Code for spreading hate propaganda. His videos often target Muslims and LGBTQ+ persons.
Far-right groups use rallies and events to network in real life and build capacity. This event continues a pattern of far-right groups claiming they aren’t racist while standing shoulder to shoulder with groups that are overtly and demonstrably hateful.
The event will run on both Saturday and Sunday. One of the organizers of a connected ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ event has said he “really wants to get in mainstream media’s face” and they may march on the nearby CTV office on Sunday. According to Hope Not Hate, Robinson is a "Far-right Islamophobic Extremist." He has been put in jail for breaking contempt of court laws in the UK.
Update 2018-07-13: Members of La Meute tell the Canadian Anti-Hate Network that they won't be attending the C3 rally. "We don't want to be associated with the mess of Saturday," says Sébastien Chabot, a member of La Meute.