December 2, 2022

“The character of who has been commissioned and what function is just not one thing we’re disclosing. Our personal safety power is personal,” TUPOC director William Komer mentioned. “However the public needs to be conscious it’s merely a lawful safety power.”

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The Ottawa Police Service has confirmed officers visited the previous St. Brigid’s church property on Sunday responding to neighborhood considerations concerning the potential new house owners and their intention to fee a “sizeable personal safety power.”

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Police made two “proactive” visits to the previous Catholic church, first on July 15 and once more on Sunday, to talk with administrators of The United Folks of Canada (TUPOC), a bunch that has been met with unease from some neighborhood members over perceived hyperlinks to the “Freedom Convoy.”

Interim Police Chief Steve Bell despatched a memo to the Police Companies Board acknowledging the “vital public concern raised associated to the acquisition of the previous St. Brigid’s Church in Lowertown” in current weeks.

Officers have “proactively engaged with the brand new occupants of the church,” Bell mentioned, and within the final encounter on Sunday, “mentioned current stories of mischief and thefts on the property and TUPOC’s plan to create a non-public safety power.”

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In a current put up on TUPOC’s Fb web page, the group claims it “commissioned the primary member of our personal safety power” to protect the property dubbed “The Embassy.”

Members of the general public have raised considerations over connections between TUPOC’s backers and the “Freedom Convoy” protest. The group’s administrators embody William Komer, Diane Nolan and Kimberley Ward.

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Komer beforehand informed this newspaper he was in Ottawa for the protest as a result of, “as a documentary filmmaker, I used to be protecting what was happening there from an investigative perspective.”

Nolan incessantly posted about her attendance on the “Freedom Convoy” on Fb, encouraging viewers of a dwell video to go downtown the day police moved in to clear protesters. “I don’t know that they’ll know what to do when there’s this many individuals right here guys,” she mentioned, later observing: “It is a protest, for our freedom. They’ll thank us later, they only haven’t figured it out but.”

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Ward has mentioned that she served as an adviser to Dwayne Lich, husband of convoy organizer Tamara Lich, who was launched from jail a second time final month after a Superior Court docket choose discovered errors within the resolution to revoke her bail.

The pinned put up on Dwayne Lich’s Fb profile web page is a hyperlink to the TUPOC web site, and he’s been posting there concerning the group since late March.

Komer mentioned in a earlier interview with this newspaper Tamara Lich is just not concerned with TUPOC “in any manner,” and that “we welcome help from all individuals of all backgrounds, beliefs, religions, and creeds.”

Komer additionally mentioned Dwayne Lich “is a supporter of our numerous and inclusive, intergenerational, interracial, and interfaith, women-led and minority-led, federally integrated social enterprise group and its mission to revive and adaptively reuse surplus and underutilized institutional property into vibrant and inclusive neighborhood areas.”

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File picture: The United Folks of Canada group is within the course of of buying and renovating the historic St. Brigid’s church. William Komer, a member of the group’s board of administrators, sits contained in the church. Picture by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

Now, Komer has confirmed in a cellphone interview the group is commissioning a “sizeable” safety power in response to what he mentioned have been incidents of theft, vandalism and dying threats.

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“We’re growing a non-public safety power to guard our lawfully occupied property, to guard our members and members at varied occasions and neighborhood conversations,” Komer mentioned.

“We’ve had a number of felony exercise dedicated towards us… There’s been egging, a few of our flagpoles have been damaged, there’s been theft of banners, theft of flags. We did obtain dying threats,” Komer mentioned.

He cited one current incident at a neighborhood barbecue the place an attendee turned “more and more belligerent” as they have been requested to go away, then continued “yelling obscenities” on the group from the sidewalk.

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“There’s not been a passable response (from Ottawa police) and that’s been a major consideration in growing the sizeable personal safety power,” he mentioned.

Police obtained 4 complaints from TUPOC associated to “a disturbance, a web-based defamation and two theft incidents,” Bell acknowledged within the memo.

Police visited the property and “mentioned the principles and legalities of personal safety with the occupants,” Bell mentioned. “Officers have been suggested that the safety being envisioned consists of getting somebody with a safety licence look out for the property on a 24/7 foundation.”

Sylvie Bigras, president of the Lowertown Group Affiliation, mentioned quite a few residents turned involved concerning the group after its hyperlinks and sympathies to the convoy “turned fairly clear.”

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“The affiliation has augmented the priority locally and many individuals are anxious,” Bigras mentioned. “Lowertown is already a fragile neighbourhood.”

Bigras mentioned the notion of a non-public safety power is “ridiculous” for the 130-year-old church with such a cherished historical past locally.

“St. Brigid’s church has stood there for over 100 years and hosted many, many neighborhood occasions and companies and all types of actions… the Irish Society turned it into a stunning artwork and cultural centre and hosted all types of actions, a bar, performances and quite a few occasions.

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“Not as soon as has there ever been speak of hiring a non-public safety power,” Bigras mentioned. “Which leads an individual to say, ‘Why is it that your group wants this?’”

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Bigras mentioned the “actions and messaging” related to TUPOC are “like reopening a wound” locally.

“When you will have convoy vehicles parked in your property, it’s not a reassuring sight for individuals, it brings again quite a lot of troublesome moments for individuals,” Bigras mentioned.

Komer acknowledged police spoke to TUPOC about rumours the group was “growing a militia to patrol the streets or one thing that impact,” he mentioned. “That’s not what we’re doing. We defined to them our plan and the officers agreed every little thing was utterly lawful and so they went on their manner.”

Komer declined to outline how “sizeable” a power the group is planning.

“The character of who has been commissioned and what function is just not one thing we’re disclosing. Our personal safety power is personal,” Komer mentioned. “However the public needs to be conscious it’s merely a lawful safety power.”

Personal safety businesses are regulated by the province and businesses “should make use of licensed safety guards who’re skilled to be acquainted… (with) related legal guidelines and rules,” in accordance with the Ministry of the Solicitor Normal.

A ministry spokesman mentioned Wednesday the Solicitor Normal “has not had any contact with (the TUPOC) group.”

With recordsdata from Taylor Blewett and Blair Crawford

[email protected]

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