Ottawa café closes after Freedom Convoy donor hack led to death threats

The café owner supported the civil liberties protests.

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The Stella Luna Gelato Café in Ottawa had to close this week after the staff received threats.

The private information of Tammy Giuliani, the owner of the cafe, was published by the hacker of GiveSendGo, the crowdfunding platform that was running the fundraising campaign for the civil liberties protests in Canada.

Giuliani made a $250 donation to the cause on February 5th and, since the leak, has faced threats and constant phone calls jamming up the line.

Related: Learn how to protect your identity online so you won’t be affected by data breaches

“We got a call from the team saying, ‘We’re getting phone calls here,’” Giuliani said in a phone interview with Ottawa City News.

“I said, ‘What’s going on?’ and they said, ‘They’re threatening to throw bricks through our window. They’re threatening to come and get us.’ We said, ‘Lock the door and we’ll find out what’s going on.’”

Giuliani said she ordered the shop closed and staff to go home for their own safety. She said she intended to report the threats to police.

“Now I’m giving you $250 and taking food down to the truckers every day. Thank you for continuing to fight for Canadians across this country,” Giuliani wrote along with her donation.

The Stella Luna Gelato Café struggled during lockdowns, having to pivot its business model to serve sandwiches, Italian dishes, and takeout.

After facing the threats, Giuliani recanted her support for the Freedom Convoy protest.

“When a group of people first decided they were going to travel across the country to spread this message of solidarity, it seemed like a beacon of hope for small businesses like us,” she said. “It’s no surprise that small businesses have been on the edge. Families are at risk of losing their livelihood. I’m a sucker for a grassroots cause.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we anticipate what has transpired over the past couple of weeks,” she said. “None of us anticipated what it turned into and we certainly don’t condone it.

“In retrospect it was bad judgment, but does that mean that people have a right to threaten our staff? Does it mean people have the right to threaten to throw bricks through our window and to threaten my family? We made a mistake. Who could have anticipated it?”

Journalists have been using the hacked details to contact people that donated to the protests and asking them why they donated.

The publication of Tammy Giuliani’s donation was condemned by US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

“I fail to see why any journalist felt the need to report on a shop owner making such an insignificant donation rather than to get them harassed, Omar tweeted. It’s unconscionable and journalists need to do better.”

“I wish journalists wrote the articles they think they are writing,” Omar continued. “Sorry to say it, but your stories aren’t always balanced and often have a clear political bias. Calling it out isn’t harassment or journalist bashing. Everyone has a right to critique your story and it’s merits.”

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