On Day 2 of the Public Order Emergency Commission hearings, Ottawa residents testified about “phantom honking” and living in a scene from “The Purge” as city councillors accused truckers of committing “microaggressions” toward Ottawa residents.

Zexi Li, a 22 year-old Ottawa resident and federal government employee testified that living in Ottawa during the Freedom Convoy was “something like living in ‘The Purge’,” making reference to the horror movie series in which a fictional United States enters a 12-hour state of lawlessness in which rape and murder are legal.

“I just remember feeling like it was such a surreal sight. It almost felt like you were in something like ‘The Purge’,” Li said. “Though I didn’t often see direct acts of violence, there was a certain chaos on the streets, and that feeling of chaos gradually increased as things progressed.”

Federal bureaucrat Zexi Li says that living in Ottawa during the protests “felt like you were in something like The Purge.” pic.twitter.com/ibl0TboUBh

— True North (@TrueNorthCentre) October 14, 2022

Under cross-examination from Freedom Convoy lawyer Brendan Miller, Li was challenged on her comments.

Li responded by saying, “I would not say that the protests or occupation provided a Purge-like opportunity.” She followed up by saying the opportunity was there for a Purge-type scenario and that the people “illegally occupying our streets felt like they could do anything they wanted.”

Miller also asked Li about her interactions with the protesters, including an interaction in which Li allegedly told truckers to “go back to where the f*** you came from.” Li confirmed that she “may have” said those words.

Ottawa resident Zexi Li says that she “may have” told the protesters to “go back to where the f*** you are from” and that she did not witness anything that could be considered “sabotage or espionage” during the protests in Ottawa. pic.twitter.com/cOFPzV5Elb

— True North (@TrueNorthCentre) October 14, 2022

Prior to admitting that she had confronted the protesters by cursing at them, Li told Commission counsel that protesters targeted her when she “chose not to engage with them.”

“The worst thing was that when I chose not to engage with the protesters they would blast their horns at me with a smile and then cheer in unison. They would take joy in my flinching and recoiling from the noise,” Li said.

The only violence described in Li’s testimony today were alleged actions from people living in Li’s apartment building throwing eggs at the truckers from their balconies.

“Egg throwing started to occur from my building,” Li said. This was described by Li as her neighbours’ “little act of retaliation” toward the peaceful truckers.

Li was the lead plaintiff in a successful injunction application to get protesting truckers to stop honking horns late at night near the beginning of the Ottawa protests.

Testifying alongside Li was Victoria De La Ronde, also a resident of downtown Ottawa and a former federal government employee.

Under questioning from Commission counsel, De La Ronde claimed that due to the honking from protesters in February, she still hears “phantom honking” and is “triggered by the sound of horns.”

Victoria De La Ronde, resident of Downtown Ottawa, says she experienced “Phantom Honking” long after the Freedom Convoy left the city. pic.twitter.com/Yjd2xZGoRm

— True North (@TrueNorthCentre) October 14, 2022

The next two witnesses that testified were Nathalie Carrier representing the Vanier business improvement area and Kevin McHale representing the Sparks Street business improvement area.

McHale testified that many businesses operating in downtown Ottawa during the protests voluntarily closed their doors so as not to be fined by the City of Ottawa for not following public health guidelines.

Witnesses from the downtown Ottawa BIA testified that businesses closed during the convoy because they didn’t want the government to fine them for not enforcing the mask mandate. They were afraid of bylaw officers, not protesters. pic.twitter.com/jVPIXc3bVP

— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) October 14, 2022

Carrier testified that UberEats had stopped operating in downtown Ottawa during the protest.

In response, Twitter users began sharing pictures of UberEats receipts taken from the time of the convoy protests in downtown Ottawa.

The Vanier BIA head told the Public Order Emergency Commission this morning that there was no Uber Eats in downtown Ottawa during the convoy. Weird, the driver who brought me my dinner on Feb. 17 missed the memo. pic.twitter.com/viQunQbOJH

— Andrew Lawton (@AndrewLawton) October 14, 2022

My Uber receipts during the time the protests were in town. https://t.co/D0jyzrPAQm pic.twitter.com/q3Uwzz4o6N

— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) October 14, 2022

The final two witnesses of the day were Ottawa city councillors Mathieu Fleury and Catherine McKenney.

Fleury described the actions of the protesters towards Ottawa residents as “microaggressions” and described the trucks involved in the protest as “weapons.”

“For us, having the physical truck on the street created a big weapon,” Fleury claimed.

“There were a number of microaggressions…particularly in residential communities.”

Ottawa City Councillor Mathieu Fleury describes trucks that participated in the convoy as “weapons” and that their presence caused “microaggressions.” pic.twitter.com/XWI4zSlsm4

— True North (@TrueNorthCentre) October 14, 2022

When asked by Convoy lawyer Miller to define the word ‘microaggression’, Fleury refused to define the term in English despite using the term in English multiple times throughout his testimony.

Fleury claimed that as a francophone, he would only be able to describe the “nuance” of the word “microaggressions” in French.

MUST WATCH: Ottawa city councillor Mathieu Fleury is asked to define “microaggression” after using the word multiple times throughout his testimony in English. Fleury then refuses to define the word in English because he’s a francophone. pic.twitter.com/6T0SIlEw0s

— True North (@TrueNorthCentre) October 14, 2022

McKenney, who is running for mayor and uses they/them pronouns, was unable to provide any evidence of particular acts of violence that had occurred during the protests and claims only to have heard about them.

This contradicts a public statement issued by McKenney during the protests that Ottawa residents were facing “unprecedented violence” and that residents had been “terrorized.”

This was McKenney in February writing to Trudeau and the RCMP claiming Ottawa residents were experecing “unprecedented violence”. Today at the inquiry, she had to admit she personally hadn’t witnessed any acts of violence but had “heard” about them. #POEC https://t.co/rttgSSxqzC

— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) October 14, 2022

What happens now?

The commission hearings resume on Monday, October 17 at 9:30am ET.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, along with members of his staff, are expected to testify next week. Representatives from the Ottawa Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police are also expected to testify next week.

True North will continue to bring you daily coverage of the Public Order Emergency Commission hearings.

 

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