'Freedom Convoy' raises funds on Christian site after GoFundMe cutoff
Canada's 'Freedom Convoy' (Screen Grab)

The organizers of a trucker-led protest in Canada against Covid mandates have turned to a Christian fundraising site after being cut off by the popular GoFundMe platform.

Several Republican officials in the United States called meanwhile for investigations into GoFundMe after the fundraising site stopped taking donations for the "Freedom Convoy" protest in Ottawa.

The protesters have parked their big rigs on streets in the Canadian capital and put up tents and temporary shacks -- paralyzing the city to the consternation of officials and the mounting frustration of many residents.

The demonstrations began as protests by truckers angry with vaccine requirements when crossing the US-Canadian border, but have morphed into broader protests against Covid-19 health restrictions and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced a state of emergency Sunday, saying the ongoing protests pose a "serious danger and threat to the safety and security of residents."

GoFundMe removed the donation page for the "Freedom Convoy" on Friday, claiming it violated the crowdsourced fundraising site's terms of service that "prohibit user content that reflects or promotes behaviour in support of violence."

It announced the next day that it would refund all of the donations made so far. More than $8 million had been raised at the time.

After the GoFundMe cutoff, organizers launched a donation drive on GiveSendGo, which describes itself as the "leader in Christian fundraising."

More than $4.7 million has been raised on GiveSendGo as of Monday.

Former US president Donald Trump was among the prominent Republican leaders in the United States speaking out in support of the "Freedom Convoy."

"Facebook and Big Tech are seeking to destroy the Freedom Convoy of Truckers," Trump said in a statement. "The Freedom Convoy is peacefully protesting the harsh policies of far left lunatic Justin Trudeau who has destroyed Canada with insane Covid mandates."

Investigations

Republican officials in several US states including West Virginia, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana and Florida said they would study whether GoFundMe had broken any laws.

"My office will be looking into whether or not #GoFundMe violated our state law," tweeted Louisiana's attorney general, Jeff Landry.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he had assembled a team to investigate "potential fraud & deception" by GoFundMe.

"Texas donors will get Justice!" Paxton tweeted.

Among the prominent critics of GoFundMe's move has been billionaire Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk who tweeted memes and links to articles calling them "professional thieves."

Crowdsourced fundraising sites and payments platforms have been entangled previously in political controversies.

GoFundMe last year shut down accounts seeking to raise funds for the defense of Kyle Rittenhouse, the American teen who shot dead two men during protests and riots against police brutality in Wisconsin in 2020.

GoFundMe once again allowed fundraising for Rittenhouse after he was acquitted of all charges last November.

In 2010, Bank of America, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Western Union cut off donations for WikiLeaks after the whistleblowing site published State Department cables and confidential US military information.