Horizon Ottawa, a progressive organization that lobbies for left-leaning municipal policies, is calling for a strong police response to upcoming freedom events in the nation’s capital – while also supporting the Defund the Police movement.

Freedom events are planned next week in downtown Ottawa for the arrival of Canadian Armed Forces Veteran James Topp and in celebration of Canada Day. Organizers are also planning events on weekends throughout the summer. 

“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.” 

While Horizon Ottawa is urging authorities to crack down on attendees of the freedom events, they are also very critical of the police and support the Defund the Police movement.

During the February Freedom Convoy, the organization called for the defunding of Ottawa’s police force.

On Feb. 16, Horizon Ottawa issued a press release calling on the Ottawa Police Services Board to “immediately freeze the OPS budget at 2021 levels, and commit to detasking and defunding the Ottawa Police Service.” 

The organization also held a press conference on Feb. 25 featuring activist Robin Browne, who called for the abolishing of police, citing the force’s failure to protect residents from the Freedom Convoy.

“It is time to start the process of abolishing the Ottawa police and by massively defunding them and starting… real community conversations about what systems we should fund and create to truly make us all safer,” said Browne at Horizon’s press conference.

Horizon Ottawa had also called for the reduction of Ottawa’s police budget in both 2020 and 2021, wanting the funding to instead go towards Ottawa Public Health and “real community safety.”

Additionally, the organization opposes School Resource Officer programs, claiming police “exposes children to human rights violations, a racist school-to-prison pipeline, and gender-based violence.”

Freedom Convoy demonstrations came to an end after three weeks when police forcefully removed the peaceful protesters – following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s invocation of the Emergencies Act.

True North reached out to Horizon Ottawa for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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