Chris Saccoccia, known better by his social media handle Chris Sky, has a history of being a Holocaust denier and will be speaking this weekend at an anti-mandate rally in Ottawa being organized by Freedom Fighters Canada and Rolling Thunder.
Sky has made racist statements against the Jewish and Black communities, as well as homophobic and Islamophobic remarks, which have been chronicled by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
More recently Sky has been pushing conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates.
“The vaccine passport equals the nullification of our rights and freedoms for good and transforms them into government-granted privileges predicated on an inoculation that has been proven ineffective and unsafe,” Sky told a rally in Kelowna, B.C. in 2021.
The COVID-19 vaccine has of course been well tested and approved safe.
Rolling Thunder tries to distance itself
Rolling Thunder organizer Neil Sheard, a 12-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, tried to put some distance between his group and Sky in a video posted to the Rolling Thunder YouTube channel on Wednesday.
Sheard said that the focus of the Rolling Thunder event was about the National War Monument situated near Parliament Hill and that Sky’s was entitled to his remarks under the right to freedom of speech.
“The freedom speech event is going to be interesting. It is not affiliated with ‘Rolling Thunder’ as in the ‘Rolling Thunder’ our event,” Sheard said. “So let’s make this clear, OK? Our event is all about the monument, it’s all about the veterans, it’s all about the bikes.”
Despite Sheard’s claim that the Freedom Fighters Canada event, featuring Sky, was not affiliated with Rolling Thunder, it continued to be listed on the itinerary on the Rolling Thunder website as of Friday morning, April 29.
The Rolling Thunder rally is a partnership between three groups. One is Veterans for Freedom, which describes itself as a grassroot group for Canadian Forces veterans who see to engage in “peaceful, lawful, civic action,” in order to “restore fundamental freedoms for all Canadians, and to honour our Fallen, who made the ultimate sacrifice for these freedoms.”
Another is the previously mentioned Freedom Fighters Canada organization, which has its origins in the Freedom Convoy that occupied Ottawa’s downtown in February of this year.
The final partner in the Rolling Thunder Rally is Sheard who hosts his “Live from the Shed” YouTube channel that features videos made by Sheard where he states his opposition to COVID-19 mandates.
All about the monument
Sheard had previously stated in a video on the Live from the Shed YouTube Channel that the National War Monument was desecrated by the Ottawa Police when they removed veterans from the area of the monument during the February Freedom Convoy protests.
“We wanted to go back to that monument. To lay a wreath by veterans who were forcibly removed from that monument,” Sheard said. “They desecrated it. They put a big seven-foot fence around it and then veterans came in and took it down. And they agreed with the police and police agreed with veterans that veterans would guard it 24/7 until the powers that be decided that they would move in and remove them physically from sacred ground.”
Sheard stated that the whole reason behind the Rolling Thunder protest was to honour the monument.
“Our event has always been about the veterans, it has always been about the monument and it has always been about the bikes,” he said.
CTV reporter MacKenzie Gray stated in a tweet on February 12, 2022 that the fencing around the monument had been put in place because “people were using the memorial as a toilet and jumping on the tomb of the unknown soldier.”
Protestors have ripped down the barriers step up at the War Memorial.
— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) February 12, 2022
Sheard has own history of controversial comments
Sheard for his part has his own history of making controversial statements in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a video circulated on social media earlier this year, Sheard promised to deliver cease-and-desist letters to Peterborough City Council, other politicians, and a local public health official.
“We’re going to be serving Dr. Salvaterra for crimes against humanity,” Sheard said. “The Nuremberg trials 2.0 will be coming for you. And If you are convicted of crimes against humanity, there is only one sentence and that is a death sentence.”
Sheard also made other statements comparing restrictions placed on unvaccinated individuals to the suffering of the Jews in Nazi Germany.
“We are no longer the [unvaccinated], we are Jews,” he said while holding an upturned Canadian flag. “That is where we are right now, 1933.”
Ottawa Police taking proactive approach
The Ottawa Police are taking a more proactive approach to this protest in the city’s downtown than they did with the Freedom Convoy two months ago.
The Freedom Convoy paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks and subjected residents to harassment and auditory torture with honking day and night.
Ottawa Police were then condemned for allowing the protest to occupy the downtown and help was required from other municipal, provincial, and national police services to dislodge them.
Interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell outlined steps that his service would be taking to ensure a second occupation of the nation’s capital will not occur.
“This weekend, residents will see a large and sustained police and enforcement presence including bylaw and parking enforcement. We have called in officers from the OPP, RCMP and other municipal police services to execute the plan. We thank those services for contributing to this effort. Controlled intersections, new no parking and no stopping areas, road closures, vehicle towing and ticketing will be part of the enforcement strategy to support public safety. We have developed multiple contingencies including traffic officers and quick response teams that will be ready to provide an immediate police response to issues throughout the city,” reads a statement from Bell.
In response to these announced steps by the Ottawa Police, Sheard warned of a “free for all.”
“You’ve taken that little bit of control, quasi-control, we could have had to guide the motorcycles, but now it’s going to be a free-for-all,” he said, adding later “if you get back to us, we can work on this.”
According to the Rolling Thunder itinerary, the weekend will begin with a Freedom Fighters Canada rally at 6 p.m. followed by an “after party.”
The motorcyclists will then meet the next day at the St. Laurent Shopping Centre before travelling towards Parliament Hill.
Some residents preparing for the worst
Some residents living in Ottawa’s downtown neighbourhood reacted with apprehension to the news that an anti-mandate protest will once again be travelling through their community.
Neighbours talking about the return of convoy anxiety. Planning street blockades and safety walks again. Feeling betrayed by Ottawa Police and the mayor.
Why are the criminals who triggered the first-ever use of the Emergencies Act allowed to terrorize our community again?
— Kiavash Najafi (@KiavashNajafi) April 26, 2022
Somerset Ward Councillor Catherine McKenney for one felt that the exclusion zone setup by the Ottawa Police was insufficient.
I have requested the exclusion zone be extended to Somerset. This is the area that was illegally occupied for over 3 weeks. I’ve also requested no parking or local traffic only on all other residential streets. https://t.co/sfA1hsa4OG
— Catherine McKenney 🇺🇦 (they/them) (@cmckenney) April 28, 2022
On Thursday evening, one Ottawa doctor said that they were already seeing disturbing parallels between February’s Freedom Convoy and this latest demonstration.
A car with a confederate flag just drive by and honked at a group of us standing with masks in front of a local school. Can’t say that it isn’t hate coming to Ottawa streets.
— Nili Kaplan-Myrth MD PhD (@nilikm) April 28, 2022