GoFundMe said Wednesday it has paused and is reviewing the fundraiser for Canada’s trucker convoy that has raised over $10 million to date.
A warning that the fundraiser is “under review” has been posted to its page and donation buttons and a list of previous donors have been removed.
“This fundraiser is currently paused and under review to ensure it complies with our terms of service and applicable laws and regulations,” GoFundMe’s warning reads.
“Our team is working 24/7 and doing all we can to protect both organizers and donors. Thank you for your patience.”
The fundraiser, which lists Tamara Lich as an organizer and B.J. Dichter as a “team member,” has been stopped after raising $10,125,100. It was created to support the truckers that have travelled across Canada to Ottawa to participate in a protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
That protest began Saturday Jan. 29 and remains ongoing in the nation’s capital, while other protests have sparked up in other cities across the country.
In a Medium post, GoFundMe said that it requested more information from the fundraiser’s organizer regarding the use of the funds to “ensure the fundraiser is still compliant with our Terms of Service.”
“When we do not receive required information, we may put a pause on donations as we did in this case,” the company said.
Distribution of the money raised was previously suspended by GoFundMe as the website said it had to review the organizers’ plans for the funds. However, $1 million was released as the protest began in Ottawa after plans were shown the money would be used to cover the cost of fuel for participants peacefully protesting.
GoFundMe’s terms of service say that funds cannot be used or raised with the implicit or explicit purpose of violating any law or if there is involvement of “User Content” that is in support of hate, violence, harassment, bullying or “intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin.”
Funds also cannot be used for the legal defence of any of those infringements.
As the trucker protests extend beyond the first weekend with no end in sight, allegations of unlawful behaviour have cropped up, including harassment of media, Ottawa businesses, as well as displays of hateful signs such as the Nazi and U.S. Confederate flags.
Truckers have also blocked a key border crossing to the U.S. at Coutts, Alta., which was opened for one-lane passing in both directions on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that the protest in Ottawa is “now becoming illegal” and that the federal government is working with Ottawa police to bring it to an end.
“One of the important issues with a situation like this is to respect our institutions, systems and laws,” he said.
“Politicians are not the ones who order law enforcement agencies to take any particular action.”
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly said Wednesday that there has been “illegal and unacceptable” activity connected to the protest.
“Residents have been the victims of intense noise, threatening behaviour, vitriol and hatred that has no place in our city or anywhere,” he said in a statement.
“My message to the unlawful demonstrators is clear: there are consequences, and there will be more to come.”
He said that police will be “escalating” their actions and “all options are on the table” with a focus on not creating harm to the public.
Sloly said he had been in touch with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki asking for additional resources, and his latest request for more officers and intelligence officials was granted.
Police estimate there were between 8,000 to 15,000 people protesting at the demonstration’s peak. Some protesters have indicated their intention to stay for the long haul until demands to lift restrictions have been met.
However, most public health restrictions are the jurisdiction of the provincial governments, not the federal government.