One of the organizers of the 2022 convoy protests in Ottawa told truckers to “grab that horn switch” and “let it roll as long as possible” if police tried to dislodge them, according to video played at his trial Thursday.
Those comments from Chris Barber appear in hours’ worth of video shown on the third day of the trial of Barber and his co-accused, Tamara Lich.
The two organizers of what’s become known as the “Freedom Convoy” are facing charges for the role they played in spearheading the protests against COVID-19 restrictions, which gridlocked large swaths of downtown Ottawa for several weeks.
Barber and Lich are charged with mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, intimidation and obstructing police.
Barber is facing an additional charge of counselling others to disobey a Feb. 7, 2022 court order that banned loud honking in Ottawa’s downtown core.
The majority of videos introduced as evidence so far have featured Barber, a trucker from Swift Current, Sask., whose social media exploded in popularity leading up to and during the protests.
As the videos sourced from his TikTok account played, Barber sat in the first row of the courtroom, directly behind his lawyers, occasionally jotting notes into a notebook.
Get to Ottawa ‘by any means necessary’
Two days after the Ontario Superior Court granted the injunction against honking, Barber posted a video to TikTok warning supporters there were rumours police action could be coming within days.
In the video, Barber says the “horns have to be quiet” — but if a trucker sees police enforcement starting, they should “grab that horn switch and don’t let go of that.”
“F–king go, no matter what time it is, and let it roll as long as possible until they’re busting your f–king windows down,” he says.
Another TikTok video posted on Feb. 9 tells supporters that if a trucker is arrested and ordered to leave the city, they will be replaced “with three new truckers.”
“When the call goes out guys, everybody and their f–king dog get coming to Ottawa because we need all the help we can get,” he says.
In a third video posted two days earlier, Barber warns supporters of rumours that police are on their way to Ottawa.
He instructs them to get to the city “by any means necessary” to peacefully protest if Barber and other organizers “go dark.”
Proceedings moving slowly
Originally scheduled to sit 16 days, the trial is already at least two days behind schedule. Technological issues and other delays have at times brought the proceedings to a crawling pace.
That happened again Thursday, as court wrapped up early to allow lawyers to consider legal arguments over issues that have come up over the admissibility of certain evidence — specifically, some of the social media posts.
Eric Granger, a lawyer for Lich, said different people have different levels of knowledge and comfort when it comes to how such evidence is used in court.
“The rules of court have been around a lot longer than social media has been, and we’re all still adapting,” he said.
The Crown is also seeking to prove that Lich and Barber conspired together during the protest, and that evidence against one of them would apply to both. The pair’s lawyers are opposing this.
A smattering of about a dozen people joined the two accused inside the courtroom Thursday, and a crowd about half that size gathered outside the courthouse.