American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

EXCLUSIVE: 'I support them and will to the very end!' American trucker joins Freedom Convoy as Ottawa mayor declares state of emergency over the 10,000-strong protest

  • Brian Gregg, a long-haul driver for almost 30 years, drove from Indianapolis to Ottawa to support his fellow 'brother and sister Canadian truck drivers'
  • He tells DailyMail.com, 'I support them and will support them to the very end. These mandates need to stop they are hurting Canadian families'
  • Gregg said he's amazed at the amount of support the truckers have received from the public
  • 'We have access to whatever we need. I haven't spent a dime since I've been here'
  • The Freedom Convoy entered its second weekend with a strong police presence to keep an eye on the burgeoning crowd of approximately 10,000 people
  • The protest began as a movement against a Canadian vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers 
  • Ottawa's Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency to help deal with the unprecedented 10-day occupation by protesting truckers 

By Alan Butterfield In Ottawa, Canada for Dailymail.Com

Published: 22:27, 7 February 2022 | Updated: 22:29, 7 February 2022

Hundreds of truck drivers and thousands of their supporters are in the streets in downtown Ottawa, Canada, braving subzero temperatures in support of the Freedom Convoy 2022.

Among the estimated 500 big rig trucks that are blocking the streets is an American trucker who has joined the protest.

Brian Gregg, a long-haul driver for almost 30 years, drove up from his home in the Indianapolis area to Ottawa to support his fellow 'brother and sister Canadian truck drivers.'  

'I support them and will support them to the very end.

These mandates need to stop they are hurting Canadian families. If an unvaccinated truck driver needs to quarantine for 14 days every time they cross back into Canada, they won't be able to work and support their families,' Gregg said. 

The Freedom Convoy entered its second weekend with a stronger police presence to keep an eye on the burgeoning crowd of approximately 10,000 people protesting vaccine mandates for cross-border truckers. Ottawa mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency to help deal with the unprecedented occupation. 

Brian Gregg, a long-haul driver for almost 30 years, drove up from his home in the Indianapolis area to Ottawa to support his fellow 'brother and sister Canadian truck drivers'

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Gregg tells DailyMail.com, 'I support them and will support them to the very end. These mandates need to stop they are hurting Canadian families.' His oversized truck is pictured 

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

The Freedom Convoy entered its second weekend with a stronger police presence to keep an eye on the burgeoning crowd of approximately 10,000 strong

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

The protest began as a movement against a Canadian vaccine requirement for cross-border truckers. The trucks can be seen blocking off the streets of downtown Ottawa

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa People gather in the street during the protest by truckers and supporters against vaccine mandates in Ottawa American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Another individual who didn't want to give his name told DailyMail.com, 'Trudeau has accomplished one thing in his mandates, he's brought Canada back together after several years of divisiveness. There is a mutual hatred for Trudeau on both sides because of his mandates'

He said he's made thousands of trips to Canada in nearly 30 years of driving trucks. 'Canada is like a second home to me,' said Gregg, who is married to a Canadian.

Gregg said he made the drive up as soon as he heard about the protest.

But getting into downtown Ottawa from the highway took him through some difficult routes.

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Ottawa's Mayor Jim Watson has declared a state of emergency to help deal with an unprecedented 10-day occupation by protesting truckers (file photo)

'As I got closer to Ottawa the police were blocking off various streets, roads and bridges into the downtown area,' he said.

But luckily for Gregg he was able to speak with a sympathetic Ottawa police officer who told him and other truck drivers about a circuitous route into town, 'We went through the back way,' he said with a smile.

'Through Chinatown, I didn't even know Ottawa had a Chinatown. Several other truck drivers were able to get through as well before that route was shut down,' he said. 

Gregg said he hasn't met any other American truck drivers who had managed to get into Ottawa, but has no problem being the only one around showing his support.

'Several truck drivers and even local police officers have welcomed me here. They want me to stay, they've told me that there is no way the military can come into the area and assist because I'm here and if they did that it could be an act of war and politically cause a nightmare for the Canadian government.

I'm just happy to do my part.'

The Freedom Convoy is well organized, according to Gregg. 'Every street with truck drivers parked on it has a block leader, about 20-30 drivers per block leader. The block leader is the person you go to if you need anything -  food, gas, clothing, shelter, etc.'

Gas is a hot commodity to these diesel drivers who haven't moved their trucks in over a week, while still idling their engines to keep warm.

Gregg said men come by with wheelbarrows or wagons hauling 5-gallon jerry cans of diesel fuel to keep their trucks running.

DailyMail.com exclusively spoke with a man named 'Domingos' from Ontario, Canada who was hauling around a wagon full of 5-gallon jerry cans of diesel fuel helping truckers. Domingos said, 'I'm trying to do my part in this protest.

I'm paying for the diesel fuel out of my pocket. I'll do whatever I can.' He estimates he's spent several hundred dollars of his own money.

Gregg said he's amazed at the amount of support the truckers have received from the public.

'We have access to whatever we need. I haven't spent a dime since I've been here.'

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

DailyMail.com exclusively spoke with a man from Ontario, Canada who was hauling around a wagon full of 5-gallon jerry cans of diesel fuel helping truckers.

He said, 'I'm trying to do my part in this protest. I'm paying for the diesel fuel out of my pocket. I'll do whatever I can.' He estimates he's spent several hundred dollars out of his own pocket'

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Protestors used signs that read 'No More Lockdown' to protest strict mandates in Canada

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

For the most part the crowd was peaceful, apart from the blaring horns. Originally there were only supposed to honk their horns for one minute every 30 minutes, but it's gotten to the point where there is honking well into the early morning

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

GoFundMe announced over the weekend it was suspending the Freedom Convoy 2022 account for violating terms of its agreement and was returning all the monies donated to the donors. But not before almost £1 million had been dispersed to the movement 

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Ottawa police announced they would crack down on people attempting to bring in canisters to refuel the hundreds of large trucks blocking most roads

Each team in the convoy shares a hotel room that is paid for.  'We can go up there to use the bathroom, shower, sleep in the bed for a few hours, whatever we need to do,' Gregg said. 

He hasn't seen any violence from truckers toward the locals, as reported by local media.

Just the opposite he says, 'They've mostly been supportive on what we are doing.'

His employer back in the United States knows that he's in Ottawa at the protest and has no issue with it. Gregg said he isn't taking a political side of the issue, he's there to show his support for the truckers and their protest.

He said the movement survives on money from the now defunct 'Freedom Convoy' Go Fund Me account, private donations, and other crowdfunding accounts.

GoFundMe announced over the weekend it was suspending the Freedom Convoy 2022 account for violating terms of its agreement and was returning all the monies donated to the donors. But not before almost £1 million had been dispersed to the movement.

He said he isn't worried about the GoFundMe account being suspended because 'there are other GoFundMe type of accounts that have been set up.

And the truckers get plenty of private donations to cover their costs.'

In the wake of GoFundMe's decision over the weekend, one of the Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich announced they have teamed up with GiveSendGo, a Christian crowdfunding platform, to continue raising funds for the truckers.

On Saturday morning Tamara tweeted out that GiveSendGo has already raised £1.1 million CND in just 12 hours.

'GiveSendGo is going to enable us to get donations into the hands of truckers much, much quicker,' she said in a video published by Rumble.

Truckers aren't the only people showing up in downtown Ottawa. Farmers drove in on their tractors early Saturday morning to show their support. Thierry Bourdeau, 50, a farmer who lives 35 miles south of Ottawa was one of them.

Bourdeau told DailyMail.com he drove in a convoy to Ottawa with about 300 other farmers in their tractor trailers.

The proud French-Canadian said, 'We don't want any more mandates.

We been locked down for almost two years. I'm a good Canadian citizen and have been vaccinated twice, but it's not enough anymore. We need to open our country.'

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Truckers aren't the only people showing up in downtown Ottawa. Farmers drove in on their tractors early Saturday morning to show their support. Thierry Bourdeau, 50, (pictured) a farmer who lives 35 miles south of Ottawa was one of them

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

A man drinks water from a jerry can near Parliament Hill as demonstrators continue to protest the vaccine mandates implemented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau 

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

'Omitting the truth is more dangerous than lying,' one sign says. People are seen waving Canadian flags during the protest 

Bourdeau said he just returned from spending one month in the US and everything is open. 'Canada needs to open up.

I have a 20-year-old son, he's depressed because he can't go out and do what kids do. He and other kids aren't living a normal life. The best years of my life were when I was his age and he's missing out.'

Bourdeau said he loves hockey and had to go watch NHL games in person in the United States. 'Here in Canada everything is closed or has limited capacity, restaurants, sporting events.'

He said he's disappointed in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even though he voted for him. 'Almost every country is opening up and Canada needs to join the list.'

Another protestor, a former Federal employee with a security clearance was fired in early January for failing to disclose if he's been vaccinated.

Yvan Brunett, 58, a researcher with National Research Council of Canada lost his job because of COVID and the government's mandates.

'I'm here to show my support for the truckers,' he exclusively told DailyMail.com. 'We should have the right to be vaccinated or not be vaccinated. We still have COVID around so obviously what has been done isn't working. We need to learn to live with COVID and move on.'

Brunet said that Trudeau needs to go, 'I'll be out here every day during this protest supporting the truckers and for what they stand for, freedom.'

Three women from northern Ontario made a 9-hour drive with their children in tow to attend the protest.

One of the women, Brandi Cowtan said she made the trek to see the protest for herself after hearing negative comments from the Prime Minister and the Canadian media about the protest.

'From what I've witnessed about this protest, it's peaceful and it's safe.

I haven't seen any racism or violence.'

Another individual who didn't want to give his name told DailyMail.com, 'Trudeau has accomplished one thing in his mandates, he's brought Canada back together after several years of divisiveness. There is a mutual hatred for Trudeau on both sides because of his mandates.'

DailyMail.com spent the weekend at the Freedom Convoy 2022 protest in downtown Ottawa and didn't witness any violence. For the most part the crowd was peaceful, apart from the blaring horns.

Originally there were only supposed to honk their horns for one minute every 30 minutes, but it's gotten to the point where there is honking well into the early morning.

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Coventry Yard basecamp serves as a supply resource base for the truckers at the protest in Downtown Ottawa.

At the camp, run by volunteers, truckers can find shelter, food, first aid, and fuel 

American trucker joins Freedom Convoy in Ottawa

Thousands of people show up in Downtown Ottawa in support to the protests against the vaccination mandates 

When the horns weren't blaring, a make-shift DJ has been set up along Wellington Street where the Parliament is located. At night EDM (Electric Dance Music) music is played on loudspeakers as hundreds of people dance on the streets. It's a party atmosphere, with the smell of diesel exhaust mixed with marijuana smoke filling the air.

There was plenty of food and hot coffee being handed out to protestors, make-shift fire pits made out of 55-gallon drums doted the streets keeping them warm.

There was a moderate police presence over the weekend with 150 officers patrolling the downtown area in groups of 6. The crowds and the protestors were mostly respectful to each other. On a few occasions local police made protesters who were openly drinking beer on streets to pour it out.

While other police officers are working with city workers as they place cement barriers across roads in downtown Ottawa preventing more big rigs from entering the area.

'People get confused and lump together the protestors and truck drivers,' said truck driver Guy Meister.

'All of the things I've read about in the Canadian media about displaying the Nazi flags, people dancing on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and disturbing the statue of Terry Fox, and people being harassed are most likely done by protestors, not us truck drivers.'

'Most of the protestors who have come in to support us are good people, but you know if any group there is going to be 1 or 2 people who want to cause problems.'

Adding, 'Us truck drivers are mostly staying inside our vehicles to keep warm and protect our investment.'

Last Friday Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly vowed to crack down on an unlawful occupation of the capital.

There have been published reports that the city wants to try to tow the big rigs from the area.

But local tow companies have refused to cooperate with the city, leaving only city owned tow trucks to do the job.

As Meister told DailyMail.com , 'we are in it for the long run, we have money, supplies and more importantly the growing support of the Canadian people.'