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Are extremists co-opting COVID-related protests?

Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa, Canada, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters arrive at Parliament Hill for the Freedom Truck Convoy to protest against Covid-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in Ottawa, Canada, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images)

The trucker protest that has gridlocked Canada’s capital for the last two weeks continues. For a while on Tuesday, the protesters blocked the Detroit crossing into Ontario, the busiest border between the countries.

The Freedom Convoy, as it’s called, began as a rejection of a mandate requiring truckers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine. But the protests have since morphed into something different — a far-right show of strength for a constellation of “freedom-related” causes, drawing support and money from the U.S. and abroad.

One person following the developments is Ciaran O’Connor, an analyst with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue that tracks online extremism. He talks to host Scott Tong about the radicalization of COVID-19 protests in Canada and internationally.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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