2 Windsor police officers face misconduct charges over alleged Freedom Convoy donations

The Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor, Ont., is shown Feb. 10 amid protests over public health restrictions linked to the pandemic. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press - image credit)
The Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit and Windsor, Ont., is shown Feb. 10 amid protests over public health restrictions linked to the pandemic. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press - image credit)

A pair of Windsor, Ont., police officers — including one who acknowledges donating to the Freedom Convoy protests over pandemic mandates earlier this year — are facing disciplinary charges.

The Windsor Police Service said Tuesday the charges against Brooke Fazekas and Jason Michael Brisco are under the Ontario Police Services Act.

The officers' names correspond with entries in a database of Freedom Convoy donors that was made public after the crowdfunding website GiveSendGo was hacked in February.

Brisco said in an email to CBC News he made a $50 donation on Feb. 8 to organizer Tamara Lich for the protest in Ottawa. Lich and Chris Barber, two main Freedom Convoy organizers, are expected to face trial in September 2023 for charges related to the massive protest that gridlocked downtown Ottawa.

"The donation was made to protest vaccine mandates, which personally affected me and my family. I empathized with the protesters in Ottawa, who also lost their jobs and their ability to support their family," Brisco's email said.

At the time of the donation, Brisco said, he was laid off without pay or benefits.

When the donation was made, he said he believed the protest was legal due to an injunction that banned the use of horns, but affirmed that "peaceful, lawful and safe protest" was otherwise permitted.

Brisco wrote "Officers for freedom" with his donation, the document shows, along with a statement:

"Thank you fellow Canadians for fighting for freedom at the base of Sauron's Tower. The world is watching... and we see [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau's true colours."

A user who goes by the name Brooke Fazekas donated $40 on Feb. 7, according to the data. CBC News has attempted to reach officer Fazekas via email, but did not immediately hear back on Tuesday afternoon.

A third Windsor police employee, a civilian, has been suspended without pay for a day over an alleged donation, according to police.

Starting on the evening of Feb. 7, about a week into the Ottawa protests, access to the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit was hindered by truck drivers and others protesting COVID-19 public health mandates.

A court injunction preventing anyone from blocking access to the bridge was granted on Feb. 11 and the blockade was cleared by police on Feb. 13.

Later that month, Windsor police said they were looking into possible donations by employees after three entries on the donor list appeared to match employee names.

The charges are currently before a hearing officer in accordance with the Police Services Act, a spokesperson for Windsor police said Tuesday.

Frank Providenti, deputy chief of operational support for Windsor police, said the service condemns the alleged actions of the officers and the other employee.

In a statement, he suggested their apparent donations indicated support for the Windsor blockade.

"We hold our members to the highest standards of conduct and those who fail to maintain those principles must be held accountable for their behaviour," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"By choosing to support an illegal blockade at our country's busiest border crossing, these members demonstrated a complete disregard for our city's economy and reputation as well as for the safety of their own colleagues who were dealing with the volatile situation."