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In GOP’s hug to truckers, some see racist double standards

Former President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called Black Lives Matter protesters ‘thugs’ and ‘anarchists’, said there was ‘a lot of respect’ for the mostly white truckers who stalled the streets of the Canadian capital and closed the border crossings with the United States to oppose it. COVID-19 Restrictions.

For Republican Senator Ted Cruz, truckers who parked bumper to bumper are “heroes” fighting for a just cause. Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity sent “solidarity, love and support” to the drivers, who also defied police orders to clear Ottawa streets and ignored a court order barring them from honking their horns. GOP Senator Rand Paul encouraged them to head south and ‘clog’ streets in the United States

The hugging of truckers by some of the nation’s most prominent conservative voices has sparked fresh accusations of hypocrisy and allegations that GOP leaders are applying a racist double standard to major protests, including the Jan. 6 insurrection. at the US Capitol involving a mostly white crowd of Trump supporters.

Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee called the Jan. 6 attack “legitimate political discourse.” But just months before the insurgency, Trump, Cruz and other conservatives excoriated protests against police brutality and racial injustice that were largely peaceful, with some instances of looting and unrest.

“This shows once again that there is only an unequal right to dissent in the United States,” said Karen Pita Loor, a professor at Boston University School of Law. She called Tory support ‘two-faced’, saying Tories seem to support a white conservative rights movement, but ‘when you have Black Lives Matter protesters on the streets who are ‘thugs’, they scare you”.

Conservatives counter that there is a double standard on the other side – that liberals support the idea of ​​protesting, until they disagree with the cause.

The Canadian protests known as the Freedom Convoy have been declared a national emergency and an illegal occupation of the capital. For weeks, drivers have blocked the streets to oppose vaccination mandates for truckers in Canada and other pandemic restrictions. They also blocked US border crossings, inflicting economic damage on both countries.

On Thursday, hundreds of truckers in Ottawa held their ground as police poured in, threatening to break up the protest. Workers erected additional fencing around government buildings and officers began closing off much of downtown to outsiders to prevent them from coming to the aid of protesters.

Conservatives say there is a clear distinction between Canadian protests and instances of violence during protests over the killing of George Floyd by a white officer in Minneapolis, including burned buildings in that city and in Portland, Oregon.

“All Americans have the right to peaceful protest. But there is a stark contrast between civil disobedience – which is an age-old tradition in our country – and the burning of buildings, the looting of businesses and the violent attack of genuine peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders,” said Paul. The Kentucky Republican was surrounded and confronted in 2020 by people protesting the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot dead by police.

A spokesperson for Cruz echoed those comments, saying the senator “has been very clear” about the right to nonviolent protest. “What people are not allowed to do is assault another person, loot and burn buildings – these actions do not exercise a constitutional right under any circumstances.”

Hannity said this week that the difference between the Black Lives Matter protests and truckers is that the protests in Canada have been peaceful.

In the Alberta border town of Coutts, across from Montana, where a blockade has disrupted commerce for more than two weeks, police arrested 13 people and seized firearms and ammunition earlier this week. Four men are also facing a conspiracy charge alleging they conspired to kill Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers.

The support of conservatives in the United States goes beyond the words of politicians. Right-wing activists who oppose pandemic mandates and Canada’s liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have also donated money to the protests, hoping the protests will help motivate American voters ahead of the midterm elections in This year.

Mario Morrow, a black political consultant who has served both the GOP and Democratic governors of Michigan, called Republican support for the Canadian protests “hypocrisy at its highest.”

The protests included a blockade of the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, Canada, and carries 25% of all trade between the two countries. The protests also forced the closure of a Canadian Ford plant last week. Shortages due to the blockade forced General Motors to cancel a shift last week at its midsize SUV plant near Lansing, Michigan.

Police broke the blockade at the bridge – the busiest and most important border crossing – last weekend, arresting dozens of protesters.

“There’s no way supporters, especially Republicans, can justify the financial support, the moral support and the political statements they’re making in support of these tactics,” Morrow said. He also said protesters would not get the same support if they were “anything other than conservative white individuals”.

“They would have been locked up – day one,” he said.

Cruz praised truckers last week for standing up to Liberals who imposed mandates they “have no right to impose.” He said the protesters were speaking not only for Canadians, but also for Americans.

“I think it’s powerful to watch,” he said.

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Padmananda Rama in Washington contributed to this report.


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