Engine 123 of the Chicago Fire Department. Credit: Eric Haak

About 200 Chicagoans donated more than $13,000 to a fundraiser for truckers who blockaded the Canadian capital and key border crossings to protest COVID restrictions, according to data released by the nonprofit Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets). 

More than $900 of that was apparently donated by a dozen Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Chicago Fire Department (CFD) employees, one of whom used a city email address on the donation form.

The self-styled “Freedom Convoy” began last month, when truckers protesting vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions descended on Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Truckers also blocked traffic at border crossings in Montana and Michigan, where they shut down the Ambassador Bridge—normally the busiest international crossing in North America—for days. On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked rarely used emergency powers to put a halt to the protests.

The donations were collected via the website GiveSendGo, which touts itself as “The Leader In Christian Fundraising.” Convoy supporters used the website to give at least $8.7 million to the truckers’ campaign after the crowdfunding site GoFundMe shut down a similar fundraiser for violating its rules on violence and unlawful activity. More than half of the donations given to the truckers via GiveSendGo came from the U.S. Last year, GiveSendGo hosted a fundraiser for Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin during protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake, after GoFundMe halted donations during Rittenhouse’s trial.

On Sunday, hackers breached GiveSendGo and stole documents showing who gave donations to the truckers. DDoSecrets, a whistleblower website that released a cache of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s emails last year, made the documents available to journalists and researchers. The documents include donor information related to a “Freedom Convoy 2022” fundraiser and an “Adopt-a-Trucker” campaign.

The Reader reviewed the data, which includes names, email addresses, ZIP codes, and other identifying information of donors as well as the amounts each gave, and compared the lists to a database of current city employees. 

Nine donations totaling more than $400 apparently came from fire department employees. The largest was $110, from a donor who is listed as a firefighter in the city’s employee database.

One donation to the “Adopt-a-Trucker” fundraising campaign was associated with the official city email address of Rocco Diaz, a Chicago firefighter. The donation was made with the comment “Love from Chicago!”

Diaz did not respond to emails from the Reader. A fire department spokesperson said that “use of a City of Chicago email account for non-city business is strictly prohibited,” and that “this specific matter will be referred for investigation.”

One of the largest donations from a Chicago ZIP code was for $200, and apparently came from a police officer with more than 30 years in the department. A police lieutenant donated $100. Another officer apparently gave $50. A former Chicago cop who previously ran for state legislative office as a Democrat also gave to the fundraiser.

A CPD spokesperson referred the Reader to a department policy which states members will not be disciplined for engaging in lawful activities involving the advocacy of ideas or the practice of any belief.

Johnny MAGA

Having been exposed to the wit and wisdom of John Catanzara for a couple of years, I’ve reached a rather obvious conclusion about the president of the local Fraternal Order of Police. It would be better off for everybody—Catanzara included—if he just hurried up and moved to Florida, where he’ll probably be living soon enough,…