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‘Freedom Convoy’ trial: Lead plaintiff in proposed class action testifies

Click to play video: 'Lawyers for ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers attempt to block Ottawa residents from testifying'
Lawyers for ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers attempt to block Ottawa residents from testifying
WATCH - Lawyers for 'Freedom Convoy' organizers attempt to block Ottawa residents from testifying – Sep 11, 2023

The woman who went to court to get an injunction against the “Freedom Convoy” last year repeatedly called the demonstration an “occupation” in her court testimony Monday, to the frustration of the protest organizers’ lawyers.

Zexi Li took the stand in the criminal trial of Tamara Lich and Chris Barber, who are accused mischief and counselling others to commit mischief, among other charges.

In her testimony, Li used the word occupation to describe the protest, in which big-rigs, trucks and large crowds of people blocked streets in downtown Ottawa for weeks.

Click to play video: 'Highly-anticipated criminal trial of ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers underway'
Highly-anticipated criminal trial of ‘Freedom Convoy’ organizers underway

“I object by the continuous use of the word ‘occupation,'” Chris Barber’s lawyer Diane Magas said.

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“It’s very irritating to my ears.”

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Magas said the word was inflammatory, especially because Li is “quite invested.”

Li is the lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit against convoy organizers on behalf of downtown Ottawa residents, workers and business owners.

Click to play video: 'Trial begins for ‘Freedom Convoy’ duo Tamara Lich and Chris Barber'
Trial begins for ‘Freedom Convoy’ duo Tamara Lich and Chris Barber

The suit alleges people downtown suffered as thousands of protesters took over city streets with trucks and big-rigs for three weeks.

Judge Heather Perkins-McVey told Li she would prefer her to use the words “protest” or “demonstration,” but said “what she says is up to her.”

Like several other witnesses who testified before her, Li described the excessive noise from vehicles honking their horns “for most of the day, if not all day.”

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“It was difficult to live as a human being,” she testified.

On the second week of the protest, Li went to court and got an injunction against the horn-honking. She said the honking became less constant after that, but she would still hear periods of what she called
“collective honking” where it sounded like all the horns went off at once for a period of time.

On the third week, Li testified that she went for a walk to record evidence that the injunction was being broken and took a photo of a truck that was carrying jerry cans, which was partially parked on the sidewalk.

She said the driver of the truck “backed the truck into me,” as nearby demonstrators honked and shouted at her.

Li’s lawyer Paul Champ said last week that she would have preferred not to testify, but she would do her civic duty if asked.

He said she has suffered harassment since she initially went to court against the convoy and again after she testified in a federal inquiry into the government’s use of the Emergencies Act during the protest.

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