Saturday, July 31, 2010
This article originally appeared on ActiveHistory.ca. Ian Milligan is a third-year PhD student in Canadian history at York University. For his dissertation, he is studying the relationship between the New Left, Youth, and Labour in the 1960s and early 1970s. He is also a book review editor with Left History, a peer-reviewed academic journal published out of the history department at York University.
As Sean Kheraj, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of history at the University of British Columbia, noted in a blog post last week, many commentators seemed surprised by the police violence that gripped Toronto through the G20 weekend. Many of my contemporaries were surprised that Mayor David Miller and most of his counterparts (except for some subsequent rumblings from the provincial NDP and mayoral candidates) expressed their firm and complete support of police actions.
“Figures,” many resignedly noted, “politicians always have to support the police.” (To be fair, it was a bit less surprising when the polling numbers were released.) Well, no, they don’t, and a brief trip through Toronto’s 20th-century past can show us two things: first, that police violence and arbitrary use of power have a long history in Toronto. More important, however, we see that citizen action can spur meaningful regulatory change. We can do something. (For some hopefully helpful suggestions, along with a personal account of the G20, please scroll to the bottom of the post.)
Let me preface this by noting that much of this is dedicated towards policing structures and some of their senior leadership. While there are certainly abuses by rank-and-file officers, many others are hard-working, decent men and women whom I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with firsthand in my personal and professional life. The focus needs to be on structures rather than the individuals, although the latter certainly need to be held accountable.
Sean Kheraj has documented some instances of police violence up until the turn of the 20th century; let’s add a few more vignettes to this tale. (It will be far from exhaustive, I’m afraid, but hope it will give a bit of contextualization to the post-G20 discussion.) Through the First World War, Toronto police were noted for their vigorous prosecution of individuals who held contradictory political views. In 1917, Toronto newspaper editor Isaac Bainbridge was raided by the police for possessing anti-conscription literature that dared suggest that the war was fought for territory rather than liberty, and that the ruling classes were responsible for the war as opposed to the working people of all countries.
During the 1930s, the Toronto police under former Brigadier General Dennis Draper deployed its “Red Squad” to brutally suppress dissent and break up any public demonstrations that threatened the public order. Indeed, English would be the only language allowed at any radical public gathering, to ease police surveillance. Violators were arrested.
In a fascinating 2003 paper, "Revolutionary Claims: Recalling the Politics of the Pavement in Toronto, 1928-1932," Robert Oliver has argued that through the 1930s, “Spadina, Soho, Queen, Albert and Yonge streets became the new battlegrounds between the police and the Communists. While public meetings may have been crucial sites for party building, the suppression of them presented a greater propaganda opportunity.” For those of you not from Toronto, the G20 protests and events were centred around these very streets and intersections. The more times change, the more they stay the same.
It was not until the 1970s that serious calls appeared to challenge the power of Toronto’s police. At the 1973 Artistic Woodwork strike in North York, the Metropolitan Toronto Police ended up arresting 108 picketers and strikers during an especially lengthy strike by an immigrant workforce supported by the broad Toronto New Left milieu. This saw widespread violence: police were brutally assaulting young men and women, removing their identification numbers, fabricating charges (most notably accusing 78-year-old temperance crusader and former CCF MPP William Temple of assaulting a police officer and of being publicly drunk, which stretched all credibility) and essentially rioting against a large picket line.
Once a video of the violence became available to Toronto City Council, several councillors, led by future mayor Art Eggleton, actually called for the Metro police to be recalled from the police line. Councillors such as Dan Heap, Dorothy Thomas and John Sewell also voiced their discomfort with police actions. Indeed, the police chief stormed out of one meeting after refusing to provide his surveillance tapes to the council. Not that things weren’t polarized even then, of course: North York City Council voted their support of the police just as Toronto Council voted their non-confidence. (This is the subject of my own research.)
Through the mid- and late 1970s, attention increased towards police brutality, as discussed in Jeffrey Ian Ross’s Making News of Police Violence: A Comparative Study of Toronto and New York City. In October 1974, after a series of stories in The Globe and Mail, the province carried out a royal commission (the Morand Commission) on police brutality, which subsequently called for a complaints commissioner. On Aug. 6, 1979, 35-year-old Jamaican immigrant Albert Johnson was shot dead by police. Conflicting police accounts and a coroner's finding that the man was either crouching or kneeling when killed led some to speculate, as advanced by Johnson’s 9-year-old daughter, that police had forced him to kneel and shot him execution-style (as Christie Blatchford reported in the Toronto Star of Oct. 28, 1980). Two constables were charged with manslaughter and acquitted, leading to the formation of a defence committee, and Nathan Phillips Square became the site of many protests.
This, as well as several other incidents, at least led to the creation of the Office of the Public Complaints Commissioner in 1981 and the Special Investigations Unit in 1990 — however flawed these institutions continue to be due to the use of former police investigators.
Police brutality in Toronto is nothing new, nor is the use of police to suppress particular political messages. However, if there is any consolation, my impression is that many of the police excesses on the G20 Sunday/Monday were motivated more by confusion and lack of effective leadership than any deliberate strategy of suppressing a particular message in favour of another. (The case of the young Quebecer arrested on spurious "breach of the peace" charges because she had an anarchist book and black clothing aside).
Let’s hope that we can all learn from the recent and not-so-recent past, and help us all move forward as citizens. Only a small minority of police officers abuse their power — I’ve noticed that several have gone out of their way to be extremely polite lately — but let’s make sure they have the structures to enable them to do their jobs effectively, fairly and constitutionally.
So with that, let me end with a call to action. Let’s help make history. During the G20 summit and protests, I was witness to both the strange moments of seeing no police whatsoever (such as on Yonge St., hours after windows had been smashed) but also the over-policing of Sunday and Monday: random police "checkpoints" (read: gaggles of police officers) set up at my local subway station in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood as well as at Queen’s Park station before a protest at police headquarters. Young men and women were zip-tied, searched, ID'ed and released without any charges evidently being levelled. What happened was inexcusable, and let this be one more voice adding to the calls for a public inquiry.
Please consider donating to the Legal Defence Fund, set up through Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at York University (the PayPal is down but you can send a cheque the old-fashioned way), affixing your name to a range of petitions, attending any local protests in your community, or by writing your MP or MPP. (Postage is free for the former.) Even if you don’t believe in the specifics of G20 protests, it is my firm belief that we need to show that our rights of assembly and to be free from arbitrary detention need to be vigilantly defended at every turn. Again, as Torontonians in the past have demonstrated, we can make a difference — and we must.
Friday, July 30, 2010
I tried to search this online but couldn't find an original e-version...so, i typed it in by hand...
from the archives
25 years ago:
The Globe and Mail reported that External Affairs Minister Joe Clark strongly condemned South Africa's use of emergency powers, saying that Canada was prepared to take tougher measures than the limited economic sanctions announced earlier in the month. Clark urded South Africa to stop arrests and detention of those who had participated in non-violent protests. Clark also called on the south african government to release Nelson Mandela, the imprisoned black leader of the banned African National Congress.
A people’s inquiry using arts, culture and communications to examine and respond to police actions during Toronto’s G20 Summit...
the problem i have with this initiative is in the second last paragraph where everyday people, are distinguished from "anarchists" and "vandals", who are clearly not everyday people but a completely separate class...actually two, since, in some cases even self defined anarchists or lefty types are going to great pains in order to differentiate between themselves and the people who smashed things at the riots, who always either seem to be constructed as police employed agents provocateurs or bad behaved violent activists who just don't know how to rebel in more peaceful ways.
i'm thinking of submitting a piece of creative non-fiction called "i'm an (alleged) violent protester?"...
seriously...i'm not fucking kidding. i really, really hate the way the nice, quiet, well-behaved kkkanadian lefty protesters are desperately trying to cling to some sort of weird ass moral high ground by internalizing the precepts of divide and conquer as if behaving in courteous ways towards people who have been hired by those who hate us will somehow in and of itself make change. i don't believe that at all and i think that those who do are seriously muthafucking misled.
A call to action
Over the course of the G20 Summit, held in Toronto in late June 2010, police ignored the civil liberties of Toronto’s citizens through illegal searches, detentions, and mass arrests — with Chief of Police Bill Blair making up the law and misleading the public as he went along. Hundreds upon hundreds of people have been searched without consent, assaulted and abused, profiled and harassed, and many have been beaten on the streets and in their homes, shot at with rubber bullets, gassed without provocation, detained for hours on end and arrested without cause.
Hundreds trapped by police and detained for hours at Queen & Spadina
Thousands are calling for an independent public inquiry into the abuses of power displayed by the police administered by the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit during the G20 Summit Weekend. We too support this call, but recognize that public inquiries are often lengthy and costly, are frequently politically motivated and controlled by those in power, and can result in recommendations that are never fully implemented.
This is your invitation to join us in creating DON’T WEAR BLACK, a people’s inquiry using arts, culture and communications to examine and respond to police actions during Toronto’s G20 Summit.
Who will conduct the inquiry?
Artists, actors, writers, singers, musicians, dancers, speakers, crafters, teachers, students, photographers, videographers, twitterers, facebookers, makers, doers, audience members…you. Thousands of Toronto residents and visitors have stories to tell about the G20 weekend–some of them funny, some of them moving, some of them horrifying. We will ensure that you have your chance to raise your voice and share your story about what you experienced during that time.
What form will the inquiry take?
Artists, communicators and groups will be commissioned to develop and present an eclectic range of works based on the experiences of those who were swept up in the turmoil of the G20 weekend. A number of these will include innovative mechanisms for incorporating first-hand citizen testimony. In addition, a variety of ancillary events will provide additional context to the events of the G20 weekend, touching on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the War Measures Act, the Toronto bathhouse raids and other pivotal moments in the history of human rights and policing issues in Canada.
The target date for this inquiry is October 2010–the fortieth anniversary of the notorious October Crisis.
Why does this matter? Why don’t we just do as the politicians suggest, and put this all behind us?
The G20 may be over and the world leaders back in their respective countries, but for many the nightmare continues. The Toronto 1000 comprise the largest mass arrest in Canadian history–greater than those arrested under the War Measures Act and in the Toronto bathhouse raids combined. The vast majority of them are not anarchists or vandals but ordinary citizens who have been denied basic legal rights of access to lawyers, phone calls, food/water, medications while being kept in cages. There are accounts of detainees being taunted and humiliated, female prisoners strip-searched by male guards, fondled and threatened with sexual assault, a prisoner who is deaf denied an independent sign language interpreter, and specific targeting of Aboriginal, Francophone and Queer prisoners.
In time we will see charges dropped, prisoners released, settlements paid, class action lawsuits launched, reports from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International, the Ontario Ombudsman and–one hopes–an independent inquiry or judicial review over what can only be described as the criminalization of dissent. But as we face weeks and months, and possibly years, before those resolutions are reached, we need to create our own opportunity to express our anger and sorrow, to understand and learn from what we all endured, and to bring each other strength. Above all, we need to take our city back–on our streets, and in our hearts.
We need to support all of those arrested during the G20 summit and continue to mobilize and build greater solidarity among our communities.
Legal fees for the 17 alone are expected to reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s a lot of money we need to raise, but every little bit helps. Any event to bring in money, whether it’s a small house party or a massive concert, makes a difference. Ensuring that all of our comrades have access to good legal defence in court costs money, which is why we need your support in bringing it in.
Possible fundraising events include, but are not limited to:
* Film screenings
* House parties
* Panel discussions
* Garage sales
* Anything else you can think of – be creative!
Once your event is planned, send the details to email@example.com and we can promote your event on our website. Visit www.g20.torontomobilize.org and check out our own fundraising callouts and other resources you can use in your organizing.
Funds raised will be donated directly to the G20 Defence Fund. From there, funds will be distributed to those with the most need, prioritizing those still in custody on serious charges.
Personal donations are also appreciated.
To transfer funds, transfer to:
transit number 00646
institution number 842
account number 3542240
Use your online bank account or contact your bank directly to transfer funds. Please put "G20 legal defence" in the memo.
Write a cheque:
Toronto Community Mobilization Network
360A Bloor Street W
PO Box 68557
To donate by PayPal, go to g20.torontomobilize.org
Thank you for your help. Together we will create a just world that places people and the environment before the profits of corporations and the political elite.
The Toronto Community Mobilization Network
People all over South Africa have been asking the leaders of Abahlali baseMjondolo as to why the government continues to ignore the demands of the shack dwellers. They have been asking why after all the marches, statements, reports and meetings the Kennedy Road settlement continues to get burnt down through the endless shack fires. They have been referring in particular to the recent Kennedy Road shack fire on Sunday, 4 July 2010 that took four lives, leaving more than three thousand people displaced and homeless.
Without much more words to explain this continuous tragedy we have replied that in fact the shack dwellers of South Africa are serving a life sentence. Everybody knows that we are the people who do not count in this society. But the truth that must be faced up to is that we have been sentenced to permanent exclusion from this society.
Over the years it has been made clear that the cities are not for us, that the good schools are not for us and that even the most basic human needs like toilets, electricity, safety from fire and safety from crime are not to be met for us. When we ask for these things we are presented as being unreasonable, too demanding and even as a threat to society. If we were considered as people that did count, as an equal part of society, then it would be obvious that the real threat to our society is that we have to live in mud and fire without toilets, without electricity, without enough taps and without dignity.
Waiting for ‘delivery’ will not liberate us from our life sentence. Sometimes 'delivery' does not come. When ‘delivery’ does come it often makes things worse by forcing us into government shacks that are worse than the shacks that we have built ourselves and which are in human dumping grounds far outside of the cities.'Delivery’ can be a way of formalising our exclusion from society.
But we have not only been sentenced to permanent physical exclusion from society and its cities, schools, electricity, refuse removal and sewerage systems. Our life sentence has also removed us from the discussions that take place in society. Everyone knows about the repression that we have faced from the state and now, also, from the ruling party. Everyone knows about the years of arrests and beatings that we suffered at the hands of the police and then the attack on our movement in the Kennedy Road settlement.
We have always said that in the eyes of the state and the ruling party our real crime was that we organised and mobilised the poor outside of their control. We have thought for ourselves, discussed all the important issues for ourselves and taken decisions for ourselves on all the important issues that affect us. We have demanded that the state includes us in society and gives us what we need to have for a dignified and safe life. We have also done what we can to make our communities better places for human beings. We have run crèches, organised clean up campaigns, connected people to water and to electricity, tried to make our communities safe and worked very hard to unite people across all divisions. We have faced many challenges but we have always worked to ensure that in all of this work we treat one another with respect and dignity.
The self-organisation of the poor by the poor and for the poor has meant that all of those who were meant to do the thinking, the discussing and to take decisions on our behalf - for us but without us - no longer have a job. Our decision to build our own future may therefore not be an easy one to accept for those who can no longer continue to take decisions and to speak for us but without us. Some of the people who have refused to accept our demand that those who say that they are for the poor should struggle with and not on behalf of the poor are in the state. Some are in the party. Some are in that part of the left, often in the universities and NGOs, that sees itself as a more progressive elite than those in the party and the state and which aims to take their place in the name of our suffering and struggles.
We call this left a regressive left. For us any leftism outside of the state that, just like the ruling party, wants followers and not comrades and which is determined to ruin any politics that it cannot rule is deeply regressive. We have always and will always resist its attempts to buy our loyalty just as we have always and will always resist all attempts by the state and the ruling party to buy our loyalty. We will also resist all attempts to intimidate us into giving up our autonomy. We will always defend our comrades when they are attacked. Our movement will always be owned by its members. We negotiate on many issues. Where we have to make compromises to go forward we sometimes do so. But on this issue there will never be any negotiation.
We have done a lot for ourselves and by ourselves. But for a long time what we could not succeed in doing for ourselves was to secure good land and decent housing in our cities. We stopped the evictions and we were no longer going backwards but it was a real struggle to go forwards. But we kept pushing and made some small advances here and there. This really offended the authorities in the party. This became very clear and evident when the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal passed the notorious Slums Act, meaning that the shack dwellers would never again have any place in our cities. Our successful challenge to the Slums Act in the Highest Court in the land was a great setback for the government’s plan to formalise our life sentence by eradicating our settlements and putting us in the human dumping grounds. The deal that we negotiated with the eThekwini Municipality to upgrade two settlements and to provide basic services to fourteen settlements was another setback to the eradication agenda of the politicians. The recent announcement by the eThekwini Municipality that they will accede to our demand to provide services including, for the first time since 2001 electricity, to settlements across the city is another victory of our struggle and another major setback to the eradication agenda. We are slowly but surely defeating the eradication agenda.
As South Africa was hosting the World Cup Abahlali warned that it will not benefit the poorest of the poor in our land. We warned that it would make the poor, poorer and more vulnerable. Leading up to the World Cup there were more evictions and pending court cases in different parts of the country. Poor street traders had their belongings confiscated as they had no permits to sell in restricted zones and the taxi industry suffered the impoundment of their taxis. Stopping the rush to celebrate the World Cup by raising all these questions and condemning these attacks on the poor as immoral and illegitimate has been a slap on the authorities’ faces. Although the fact is that all these huge soccer stadiums, hotels and other projects were built by the poor of the poorest they remained outside their benefit. The South African government has overspent its budget in building a ‘world class country’ and could not match and balance such expenditure with social needs such housing and the provision of the most basic services. The amount that has been spent for the World Cup could have built at least one millions homes for the poor. Although we acknowledge the efforts that have been put into this event we still feel that such effort could have been used to bring basic services and infrastructure to the poor. If that had been the case then the shack dwellers would not have been affected by these ongoing fires every time.
The truth about the attack on our movement has always been firm and not changing at any stage. We cannot make public comment on matters that are sub judice but our demand for an independent commission of inquiry that will bring the whole story into the light remains unchanged. The Kennedy 5, part of those who are already serving their life sentence in and out of the jails, have now been released from Westville prison. They had already been serving ten months of their punishment without any evidence of guilt being brought to the court and without the court saying anything about their illegal detention. The South African Constitution says there shall be no detention without trial and that a person cannot be detained for more than 24 hours without a proper bail hearing. The fact that, up until the release of the Kennedy 5, this trial was being conducted as a political trial outside of the rule of law even though it was taking place in a court of law tells us something very important about the position of the poor in post apartheid South Africa. Those who have handed a life sentence down to us always want to exclude us from fair and equal access to the courts and the rule of law. When they fail to achieve this through the commodification of the legal system they are willing to actively undermine the system from above.
The movement insists that the people shall govern; this is what the famous Freedom Charter says. Abahlali holds on to that. The strength and the autonomy of the movement compels us all to strive for a just world, a world that is free, a world that is fair and a world that looks after all its creations. We remain convinced that the land and the wealth of this world must be shared fairly and equally. We remain convinced that every person in this world has the same right to contribute to all discussions and decision making about their own future. For us all to succeed we have to be humble but firm in what we believe is right. We have to resist all our jailers, be they in the state, the party or the regressive left, and to take our place as equals in all the discussions.
We also know that the South African government still wants to look good in the eyes of the international communities and that they fear disgrace and shame. They want to show the world Soccer City but hide eTwatwa, Blikkiesdorp, Westville Prison, the red ants and the shack fires all around the country. We wish to thank all the international activists and organisations who have raised their concern against the repression that we have faced, including those that have organised protests against the South African diplomats in their respective countries.
We hope South Africa will become one of the world’s caring countries. We hope that one day our society will be an inspiration rather than a shock to you. As Abahlali we have committed ourselves to achieving this goal. But right now we are serving a life sentence and fighting all those who are trying to keep us imprisoned in our poverty, all those who demand that we know our place – our place in the cities and our place in the discussions. We have recognised our own humanity and the power of our struggle to force the full recognition of our humanity. Therefore we remain determined to continue to refuse to know our place.
Compiled by Zodwa Nsibande and S’bu Zikode
-Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA.
Canadian police investigate dozens of allegations against psychiatrist nicknamed for use of electricity to 'cure' gay soldiers...
by Chris McGreal
A leading Canadian psychiatrist who kept accusations of gross human rights abuses in apartheid-era South Africa hidden has been charged in Calgary with sexually abusing a male patient and is being investigated over dozens of other allegations.
Dr Aubrey Levin, who in South Africa was known as Dr Shock for his use of electricity to "cure" gay military conscripts, was arrested after a patient secretly filmed the psychiatrist allegedly making sexual advances. Levin, who worked at the University of Calgary's medical school, has been suspended from practising and is free on bail of C$50,000 (£32,000) on charges of repeatedly indecently assaulting a 36-year-old man.
The police say they are investigating similar claims by nearly 30 other patients. The Alberta justice department is reviewing scores of criminal convictions in which Levin was a prosecution witness.
Levin has worked in Canada for 15 years since leaving South Africa, where he was chief psychiatrist in the apartheid-era military and became notorious for using electric shocks to "cure" gay white conscripts. He also held conscientious objectors against their will at a military hospital because they were "disturbed" and subjected them to powerful drug regimens.
South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard that Levin was guilty of "gross human rights abuses" including chemical castration of gay men. But after arriving in Canada in 1995 he managed to suppress public discussion of his past by threatening lawsuits against news organisations that attempted to explore it.
Following the arrest, other male patients have contacted the authorities. One, who was not identified, told CTV in Canada that he had gone to Levin for help with a gambling addiction and alleged he had been questioned about his sex life and subject to sexual advances.
The arrest has raised questions about how Levin was allowed to settle in Canada. Canada admitted other South African medical practitioners accused of human rights abuses, including two who worked with Wouter Basson, known as Dr Death for his oversight of chemical and biological warfare experiments that included the murder of captured Namibian guerrillas.
Levin, who made no secret of his hard rightwing views and was a member of the ruling National party during apartheid, has a long history of homophobia.
In the 1960s, he wrote to a parliamentary committee considering the abolition of laws criminalising homosexuality saying that they should be left in place because he could "cure" gay people.
His efforts to do just that in the army began in 1969 at the infamous ward 22 at the Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital near Pretoria, which ostensibly catered for service personnel with psychological problems. Commanding officers and chaplains were encouraged to refer "deviants" for electroconvulsive aversion therapy.
The treatment consisted of strapping electrodes to the upper arm. Homosexual soldiers were shown pictures of a naked man and encouraged to fantasise, and then the power was ratcheted up.
Trudie Grobler, an intern psychologist on ward 22, saw a lesbian subjected to severe shocks.
"It was traumatic. I could not believe her body could handle it," she said later.
One gay soldier claimed to have been chemically castrated by Levin. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was told by investigators that he was not alone. It also heard that at least one patient had been driven to suicide. Levin refused to testify before the commission.
Levin also treated drug users, principally soldiers who smoked marijuana, and men who objected to serving in the apartheid-era military on moral grounds, who were classified as "disturbed".
Levin subjected some patients to narco-analysis or a "truth drug", involving the slow injection of a barbiturate before the questioning began. In an interview with the Guardian 10 years ago, he did not deny its use but said it was solely to help soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Levin said he left South Africa only because of the high crime rate, and denied abusing human rights. He said electric shock therapy was a standard "treatment" for gay people at the time and those subjected to it did so voluntarily.
"Nobody was held against his or her will. We did not keep human guinea pigs, like Russian communists; we only had patients who wanted to be cured and were there voluntarily," he told the Guardian in 2000.
i found this at wire of information.
...a shadowy collection of pissed off radicals, pushed into action by the tragic obscenity of our times; far too many of our fellow travelers have been hypnotized by the glitzy void of capitalism and the soulless depravity of religious revivalism. Beyond the unscalable walls of our first-world fortress lies a vast desert of war, starvation, disease and displacement; the oceans and skies are poison; the earth is being systematically dismembered – and yet our first instinct is to change the channel. We believe that we need to collectively develop a culture of intellectual self-defense in order to protect ourselves from corporate manipulation, and together build a movement capable of saving our precious world from psychopathic entropy. Join us, won’t you?
The Toronto Sixteen
Supporting the Prisoners of the G20 Police State
This week, my mind is with the sixteen Canadians who will be transported between their maximum security jail cells and the court to determine whether they will be held in prison until trial or released on extremely restrictive bail conditions. They are accused of organizing the protests against the elite G20 summit of world leaders that took place in Toronto at the end of June. At these protests, thousands of people took to the streets in opposition to specific policies of these twenty leading world governments or in negation of the global political and economic system in its entirety. Protestors enacted their disagreement and outrage in a variety of ways that included protest, counterinformation, and property destruction targeting the summit security forces and several major corporations.Peter Gelderloos is the author of How Nonviolence Protects the State.
In all, over 1000 people were arrested during three days of protest, many of them detained based on their appearance, put in cages, sexually harassed or assaulted, injured, denied food, water, legal and medical attention, and otherwise abused. Of those thousand plus detainees, these sixteen are facing the heaviest charges, accused of conspiracy as the supposed ringleaders of the mayhem.
Some of them were arrested in early morning raids, forced half-naked out of bed at gunpoint, assembled on their lawns and handcuffed in the pre-dawn darkness, and hauled off to jail. Others were picked up while biking or walking around town, sometimes by plainclothes cops making lightning grabs, a tactic perfected by the Stalinist police (the cops are internationalists, you see, and their methods for control travel across borders with much greater ease than they allow the rest of us).
None of this should be surprising. Powerful men in suits convening to discuss world problems; heavily armed police kicking down a door and sticking a gun in your face—this is the most ordinary juxtaposition imaginable in a democratic society.
The G20, just like the G8 and just like the International Monetary Fund or World Trade Organization and just like capitalism as a whole, is an act of exclusion, and when the stakes are this high, exclusion is always a violent thing. The governments that compose the G20, like all governments everywhere, base their power on forcibly excluding anyone else from making decisions that affect their lives. When the G20 convene to talk about global warming or financial crises—problems which they largely created, which they profit from immensely, and which they will escape the worst effects of—they are not making decisions in any positive sense, so much as preventing all the rest of us from addressing teose problems
Unfortunately, the policies of the G20, and the tactical question of the protests against it, generally appear as separate issues in the progressive alternative media. But in reality, it is impossible to draw a line between the harmful consequences of governmental and corporate policy, the elitist way in which they determine that policy, and the extreme level of police control that accompany their summits.
The fact that the global economy functions simply to keep capital moving, regardless of who is harmed in the process, the fact that elite institutions and politicians can respond to capitalist crisis by funneling billions to the banks and kicking normal people out of their houses, and the fact that people who protest this are surveilled and brutalized through a program of counterterrorism, are all aspects of the same truth: being robbed of our ability to live with health and dignity and being prohibited from intervening in our own lives are the same thing. The gun in the face and the televised speech are two motions in the same process.
Because this kind of authority always provokes resistance, another fundamental process of authority is not to beat down resistance so much as to discipline it to follow the rules. So, RBC can fund gentrification and oil drilling, British Petroleum can kill their workers and destroy the Gulf of Mexico, border guards can murder immigrants, cops can torture youths, the normal functioning of the Canadian economy can murder over three times as many people through workplace “accidents” as are claimed by homicides, but if protestors smash a bank window or light a cop car on fire, they are denounced as violent.
And above all, this operation is carried out by fellow protestors, who echo the media and Canadian politicians in describing the property destruction that occurred in downtown Toronto as a tragedy. But downtown Toronto already was a tragedy. What more human response could there be to a financial district—an urban space devoid of life, deprived of affordable rents, scoured of autonomous livelihoods, subordinated to the needs of traffic and commerce, held under the eye of surveillance cameras, occupied by police, and plagued with corporate outlets and banks—than to destroy it?
Yet curiously, a chorus of liberals are reproducing the tired lie that only agent provocateurs could possibly be audacious enough to attack the system, that the Black Bloc is comprised partially or entirely of infiltrators.
I can assure these liberals that there are thousands of anarchists in North America who would love to trash a police car or a bank. There are millions of other people who would love to do these things as well. The fact that so many liberals denounced these actions would suggest that liberals, along with rich people, are one of the few demographics who don't harbor any rancor for cops or banks, or that they are the political equivalent of Victorians, suppressing their appreciation of something that is both healthy and necessary. This level of denial reminds me of the hacks who decried the violence in the Canadian newspapers, speaking of provocations by an irresponsible minority, while the accompanying photographs, careful to always to show only individuals or small groups damaging property, could not hide the huge crowds gathering around the delinquents, composed of unmasked, normally dressed people, taking pictures and smiling as they watched the destruction. Those bystanders knew what anyone who is still human knows well: that a burning cop car is a beautiful thing.
Anarchists are great organizers: some of us participate in the community groups you admire, set up the alternative media you rely on, arrange housing and logistics for the protests you attend, carry out the direct actions that revitalize the campaigns that are important to you. It should be safe to assume that at least sometimes we could manage to commit a little property destruction without the help of police infiltrators.
It might also be safe to suggest that those dissidents who mirror the police and politicians in their sycophantic denunciation of “violence” share some other points in common with the authorities. Namely, they assist in the same project of democratic government, which is to convince people to participate in their own exploitation, whether through elections or profit-sharing or whatever other gimmick, and to insist on the validity of rules that will always be applied more harshly to us than to the elite.
The pragmatic justification is that the violence distracts from the real issues, but it is long past the point where we have to recognize that the media will never talk about the issues, except to allow them to be reframed for the benefit of the economy and the government. This police operation only works if dissidents participate. If we continue to focus on the reasons for fighting back against the system by whatever means, and there will always be an uncontrollable diversity of means in a diverse struggle, then there will be no distraction, except for the distraction of the corporate media, which is ever present. Either the media will pull their hair out about our violence, or they will turn the spotlight on the latest celebrity news, the latest politician's speech. To talk about anything else, anything real, is up to us.
To talk about broken windows when the G20 come to town is to participate in a policing operation that has our doors broken in and guns pointed in our faces, regardless of whether we justify this collaboration with a discourse of nonviolence or one of security. It is to contradict even that most tepid of progressive clichés: people over profit.
To consider questions of guilt or innocence in the case of these sixteen people facing conspiracy charges is to indulge in all the hypocrisy of a judge, a prosecutor, or a cop. It doesn't matter that most of these people were already arrested when the property destruction occurred, and it doesn't matter that they didn't lead any conspiracies because we anarchists don't have leaders, and we certainly don't need them to carry out a little bit of vandalism.
What matters is that when all those workers died, when all those people were evicted, when all that money was taken from us by the banks, when all those bombs fell, when all that air and water were poisoned, no one in power was punished and it didn't matter whether rules were broken or followed. To speak of rules and laws is to perpetuate one of the greatest lies of our society.
What matters is that a great many more banks and cop cars will have to be thrown on the trash fire of history before we can talk about a new world, so we'd better stop getting so upset by such a modest show of resistance.
What matters is that the $1.3 billion security budget that accompanied the G20 summit is not a concern of the past. The police still have all that new crowd control weaponry and training, and they still have yet another experience of grinding their boot in our face and getting rewarded for it, while we have yet another experience of putting up with total surveillance and control, of being disciplined to get used to it.
This is their vision of the future: cops and security cameras everywhere, preemptive arrests for simply planning or talking about resistance, people with masks or spraypaint or eye wash for the teargas being treated as terrorists. We can either get used to this future, and continue to believe in the validity of their rules, or we can fight back. For just as there is no difference between dispossession and disempowerment, there can be no line between opposing what the G20 stand for and showing solidarity to those who have been arrested for fighting against it.
One of the best ways to keep up the pressure on the banks, the oil companies, the war profiteers, the media, and the politicians, is to support those who are facing charges for organizing resistance.
Because none of us are free until all of us are free.
We, Israeli organizations, comprised of Jewish and Palestinian women and men and dedicated to building a just peace and to promoting human rights and equal civil rights in Israel/Palestine, Call upon the Norwegian people to join us in our efforts and to stop investing in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
May 14, 2009
The Council on Ethics Norwegian Government Pension Fund Government of Norway
Dear Members of the Council on Ethics,
We, Israeli organizations, comprised of Jewish and Palestinian women and men and dedicated to building a just peace and to promoting human rights and equal civil rights in Israel/Palestine, Call upon the Norwegian people to join us in our efforts and to stop investing in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
It has come to our attention that the Norwegian governmental Pension Fund, as of December 31st 2008, is heavily invested in corporations whose activities continuously support and maintain the Israeli occupation, in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law. These companies, both Israeli and international, build illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory or provide vital services to them; provide specifically designed equipment for the surveillance and repression of Palestinian population through restrictions of movement and collective punishments; or take part in the illegal exploitation of Palestinian nonrenewable natural resources for the needs of the Israeli market.
We see the Norwegian Pension Fund’s investments in these corporations as contradicting the Norwegian government’s commitment to international law, the Norwegian people’s long standing commitment to peace, justice and democracy in our region, and the Pension Fund’s own ethical guidelines. We therefore urge the Council on Ethics to remove from the fund’s investment portfolio all corporations that support and maintain the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory.
The Coalition of Women for Peace http://www.coalitionofwomen.org
Al- Tufula Center http://www.altufula.org
Bat Tzafon for Peace and Equality
Children of Abraham http://groups.google.com/group/bnei-avraham?hl=en
Hacampus Lo Shotek
Hithabrut - Tarabut http://www.tarabut.info
Humans without Borders – Assisting Medical Accessibility http://humanitywithoutborders.ning.com
Israel Social TV http://www.tv.social.org.il
MachsomWatch – Women against the Occupation and for Human Rights http://www.machsomwatch.org
Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel http://www.mossawacenter.org
New Profile http://www.newprofile.org
Ta’ayush, Jewish Arab Partnership
The Alternative Information Center http://www.alternativenews.org
The Israeli Committee for Residency Rights (ICRR)
The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions http://www.icahd.org
Women against Violence http://www.wavo.org
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Israel Section
Yesh Gvul http://www.yeshgvul.org
On the involvement of the Norwegian Pension Fund in the occupation read the report by Who Profits: http://www.whoprofits.org/Newsletter.php?nlid=41
"Who Profits from the Occupation?" is a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace.
i found the original here...
Clearly, differentiating between peaceful tactics and "violent" ones doesn't protect the meekand well behaved, after all...
In its bid to maintain its occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, the Israeli government has launched a new offensive, this one against its own citizens. A bill that is currently before the Knesset would allow Israelis who support boycotts against Israel to be sued for damages. The bill is part of a government backlash against a small but growing number of Israelis who have taken up the tactic of boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) to bring about an end to their government’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Real News Network recently presented this report on the bill and the Israeli BDS movement.
Human rights organizations in Israel and internationally have condemned the bill as draconian and anti-democratic. Human Rights Watch has called on the Knesset to reject it along with three other bills “that would seriously restrict the rights of Israelis to criticize the policies and actions of their government.”
If passed, the “Boycott Prohibition” bill could be detrimental to Israeli organizations, such as the groups that comprise the Coalition of Women for Peace. CWP, as the Coalition is known, runs Who Profits, a database of corporations that benefit from the Israeli occupation. Last year, the Coalition called on the Norwegian Government Pension Fund to divest from corporations that help to maintain the occupation.
According to Yasmeen Daher, of CWP, peace and human rights activists in Israel face a range of threats beyond the government’s latest efforts to outlaw political dissent:
“In the past year, we have seen an increasing wave of assaults against Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders and civil society organizations– by Israeli officials, security forces, journalists and right-wing organizations. Palestinians who engage in the popular struggle are arrested and terrorized and Israelis who protest the government’s illegal policies are marked as “traitors”. The Israeli policy regarding nonviolent protest is that any opinion that does not serve the so-called “national interest” should be persecuted, silenced and quashed.”
We may not all agree about whether boycotts are the right tactic to use at this time in our efforts to end the occupation. But we should all agree to oppose repression against activists who use non-violent tactics to press their government to comply with international law. That’s what Israeli supporters of BDS are doing and they deserve our support.
Yifat Susskind's ZSpace Page
by Dawn Paley
The Dominion - http://www.dominionpaper.ca
TORONTO—As the 2010 G20 summit wound down behind the fences of "Fortress Toronto", more than 1,000 people had already been sent to jail. While the police attacked crowds and snatched organizers in the streets, the Group of 20 gathered to write the Toronto Summit Declaration, a 27-page document released the evening of Sunday, June 27. A critical reading of this text reveals it as evidence that those who took great risk to mobilize against the G20 did so on behalf of the health of communities and the planet.
Although the Toronto Declaration begins with a populist appeal to sustainability, job creation and financial regulation, it enshrines a commitment to force the poor and working class around the world to tighten their belts yet again as states are ordered to implement strict new austerity programs.
The Declaration proposes an ambitious new structural adjustment agenda, designed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which aims to halve First World deficits by 2013.
Shoring up financial sector abuse of public funds is one of the most pressing public concerns (bank bailouts have been denounced around the world), but the language in the Toronto Declaration does not guarantee meaningful public oversight of the financial sector.
The Declaration welcomes the recently-passed US Financial Reform Bill, which according to Newsweek "effectively anoints the existing banking elite" without putting a cap on executive compensation. Nor does the bill crack down on banks that are supposedly "too big to fail"—banks like JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley.
Financial oversight will remain with elites—led by the IMF and other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs, such as the Inter American Development Bank and the African Development Bank)—and the declaration proposes these institutions should become "even stronger partners" in the future.
The Declaration indicates that G20 countries will pump $350 billion into MDBs, doubling the MDBs' lending capacity, so they can "focus on lifting the lives of the poor, underwriting growth, and addressing climate change and food security."
The move towards putting MDBs on the front lines of global lending could be a response to the growing global rejection of larger International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank and the IMF. This shift is reminiscent of a move away from global trade and regional agreements like the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and the World Trade Organization, and towards smaller regional deals and bilateral agreements such as the recently-inked Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
The Toronto Declaration makes a point of noting that Haiti's debt with IFIs will be cancelled, but avoids mention of the larger debt the country owes to the Inter American Development Bank (IADB). Haiti owes less than $200 million to the World Bank and the IMF, while their outstanding debt to the IADB is upwards of $441 million. The IADB has also positioned itself to become the lead development bank behind the $10 billion given by "donor nations"—mostly OECD countries—for reconstruction of the country.
In addition to increased involvement in global economics by the IADB and by other regional development banks, the Toronto Declaration promises more privatized "development financing" for low-income countries. This could mean further subsidies for transnational corporations active in resource extraction and the maquila (sweatshop) sector.
Language in the document about increasing "global output," creating tens of millions of jobs, and reducing global "imbalances" flies in the face of the document's own recommendations for countries with higher debt-loads to continue a regulatory race to the bottom by "maintaining open markets and enhancing export competitiveness"—an openness that has historically widened global gaps, put millions of people out of work (or forced them to migrate for work) and siphoned the resources of low-income countries into the bank accounts of corporations.
The Toronto Declaration also welcomed the launch of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which proposes to create food sovereignty with public-private partnerships. This contradicts the demands of peasant groups like Via Campesina, who stated at the end of 2009 that "the absence of the heads of state of the G8 countries [at the November 2009 Food and Agriculture Summit] has been one of the key causes of [its] dismal failure. Concrete measures were not taken to eradicate hunger, to stop the speculation on food or to hold back the expansion of agrofuels."
The Declaration asks that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Devleopment, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) "report on the benefits of trade liberalization for employment and growth" at the next G20 meeting. States are cautioned to stick with WTO measures and avoid new "barriers to investment or trade in goods and services." Such barriers could be new environmental legislation and new forms of taxation on corporate activity.
On the topic of climate change, G20 countries that support the accord which came out of Cophenhagen last year issued a weak call for other nations to "associate with it."
Dawn Paley is an organizer with the Vancouver Media Co-op. This article was originally published by the Vancouver Media Co-op.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
This was a solidarity rally with people who had been arrested during the anti G20 Convergence in Toronto.
In response to comments made by Ashley Fehr of Canadians Advocating Political Participation in the Georgia Straight that both condemned the black bloc and de-invited anyone wearing masks to the rally, a group of about ten people dressed head to toe in pink, wearing pink face masks with with pink flags and a banner that read, 'Solidarity 1073 plus.'
Fehr had retracted the de-invitation before the rally, and claims to have been misquoted, but many people who support direct action, including black bloc, felt the matter still needed to be addressed.
“You’re making us look bad.”
“No, we’re making you look gay!”
The concept of ‘making people look bad’ is a ludicrous rationalization for denouncing any action or group. Excluding illegal activity from resistance movements –even mainstream ones, is outlandish and historically revisionist. While the mass arrests in Toronto led to many ‘normal Canadians’ feeling the impact of the brutality of the Canadian state, it is unacceptable to allow continued resistance to exclude and condemn people who already live outside the protection of Canadian law and policy.
Some of the speakers at this event were people who had been arrested in Toronto. They spoke from a very vulnerable place about abuse and violation they experienced. Also, a bunch of politicians spoke at this event too, while numerous heckles could not be contained Pink Bloc people were holding back a lot of frustration hearing long speeches about Canada, and how police action during the G20 went against Canadian values. For a lot of people --in this instance, trans, queer and Indigenous people- Canada itself is a violation of everyday life and of people's bodies.
"While we can show solidarity with all of the arrestees in Toronto, it is not going to be at the expense of our own resistance movements. We see the breach of the peace in Toronto and celebrate, because for us, peace in Canada exists at our –and many others’- expense" --Pinky TuscaderoA pamphlet titled, ‘No Dress Codes! No Fashion Police’ was handed out with information on the many reasons people wear masks and briefly touching on the use of direct action in popular liberation movements through history. Also, in the rally before the march, there was lots of discussion and debate between people in the pink bloc and other people attending the rally. Aside from a human troll who pulled the mask off one pink blocker, it was a good example of how diverse elements of resistance movements can –and do- engage with each other in a fruitful manner.
Activists warned that speaking to media could lead to jail
July 29, Toronto – The OPP have warned two alleged G20 protest ringleaders that their recent media interviews are a violation of bail conditions not to organize, participate or advise protests. On the morning of July 28, OPP officers called their sureties and threatened to re-jail them if they persist in speaking to the media. Leah Henderson and Alex Hundert were released on bail on Monday July 19, three weeks after they were arrested at gunpoint in a pre-emptive nighttime raid on their Toronto home.
“There could hardly be a clearer indication that the police are trying to silence the voices of these organizers at all costs. Alex and Leah refuse to be intimidated from speaking out about their experiences and the daily injustices perpetrated against our society’s most marginalized communities,” says Faraz Shahidi, their supporter and member of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG – Toronto).
Leah and Alex recently appeared on CBC radio, Toronto Sun, Vancouver Media Co-op, and Rabble decrying the politically-motivated nature of the charges against them and calling on all people to support Indigenous communities, poor people, precarious migrants, and communities under occupation in the face of attacks by the leaders and policies of the G20 on their lands, livelihood, and health.
“Freely expressing opinions is not illegal. These violations of the right to free speech and the freedom of the press to speak to G20 defendants have a grave impact on all of us,” said Ryan White, a lawyer with the Movement Defense Committee.
According to well-known constitutional lawyer Clayton Ruby, “The targeting of activists should be of concern to all of us. The erosion of Charter rights, the trampling of civil liberties, and the criminalization of dissent is an attempt to destroy the foundation of our society. Everyone has an equal stake in this.”
Leah Henderson and Alex Hundert will appear in court again on Friday to defend against a Crown appeal of their bail. Dave Vasey, an anti-G20 environmental justice organizer who was arrested for breaking the illusory 5-metre rule under the Public Works Act on June 24, 2010, appeared in court on Wednesday only to find that his charges had mysteriously disappeared from all court and police records, circumstances the presiding justice of the peace called “highly unusual.”
“The mass arrests and targeting of activists raises serious issues about the criminalization of dissent as we confront deepening austerity on a global basis. These instances make visible the power of the police and governments to continue acting with impunity,” says Cynthia Wright, a York University professor.
“Our movements will not be silenced. We dare to dream of a world with freedom, justice, and equality; without tanks and prisons and borders and other oppressive institutions that steal sustenance from the world's majority,” says Rachel Avery, member of AW@L and a music student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. “We will continue to organize against the G8 and G20 leaders and their corporate villains that pillage the earth with industrial projects and profit from war.”
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I found the absolute bestest quote on a game/comic/movie review site and fell in love...with the quote...
The Movement Defence Committee’s Summit Legal Support Project has gotten a lot of messages and calls from folks charged with criminal offences during the mobilizations against the G20 who are concerned about their first appearance. We hosted an information session for people facing criminal charges arising from the mobilizations against the G8/G20 on July 21st. Based on that session, here’s some basic info on what to expect, at your first court date and beyond.
Disclaimer: the following is general information. NOT legal advice. For advice about your particular case or circumstances, please consult with a lawyer.
What’s going to happen on August 23rd?
First and foremost, your first appearance is NOT a trial. It is only the first of what will be a few or many ‘set dates’ aimed at setting a date for a trial (this can be a lengthy process!). It is also not an ‘arraignment’ – you will not have to plead guilty or innocent until trial.
So, what does happen? Set dates are an opportunity to have the Crown Attorney (the prosecutor) confirm the charges you are facing and how serious they are. Set dates are also an occasion to provide you with disclosure, which is all the relevant evidence that the Crown has in your case –including evidence in your favour. Disclosure allows you to know the case against you and is a constitutional right. Sometimes, disclosure is provided during the first set date, but often you have to wait longer or the first disclosure package you are given isn’t complete.
All this means that your first appearance won’t be very long. You will be called by name and with the assistance of a lawyer (see below), the above issues will be dealt with and you will pick another date to come back to court. This next appearance will be another ‘set date’ – either to await disclosure or to give you a chance to apply for Legal Aid and/or show the disclosure to your lawyer and discuss your options and next steps.
Occasionally, defendants are offered a more lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea by the Crown during the first set date. You DO NOT have to make a decision on the spot and you should always consult a lawyer about any offers by the Crown. Simply write down the offer and ask to come back to court on another day.
Note that set date court usually runs from 9am – 4pm, with lunch break from 1-2pm, but that August 23rd may run longer. Bring reading material and snacks (but remember that you will be searched upon entering the courthouse)! There is a duty to accommodate for disabilities and interpretation where required – you may want to contact duty counsel and/or the Crown’s office in advance.
Do I have to go to court in person?
We are anticipating that many people charged during the G20 will not have ‘retained’ a lawyer before their first appearance (made an agreement for representation with a lawyer in exchange for payment (or a Legal Aid certificate) – see below). You do not need your own lawyer for the first appearance, but if you are not represented by a lawyer, you MUST attend your first court appearance in person.
Duty Counsel lawyers (who are paid by Legal Aid and work at the) are available in all set date courts to assist unrepresented accused; you do not need to ask for their help in advance or have a legal aid certificate. Duty counsel can assist you at bail court, set dates and with guilty pleas, but they do not become ‘your’ lawyer – there is no on-going relationship.
If you have retained a lawyer or a lawyer has agreed to represent you pending retainer, whether you need to attend in person depends partly on the charge(s) you are facing, and you should speak to your lawyer about whether or not you need to attend court. Note that you cannot send anyone else on your behalf (e.g. a friend or relative).
The MDC is also working with volunteer lawyers to have additional defence lawyers and legal activists at the courthouse during the first G20 appearances to help ensure that everyone gets the assistance they need. Check our website for updates.
How can I apply for Legal Aid?
While you can apply for Legal Aid as soon as you charged, information about the seriousness of the charges you are facing is usually needed to get a decision. In practice, this means waiting until after your first appearance to apply because you will likely need the 'charge screening form' which is attached to your disclosure and sets out all your charges and the Crown's position on sentencing. To be eligible, your charges have to be sufficiently serious, which generally means that you need to be facing the possibility of a jail sentence if convicted. There are financial criteria as well; these are listed on the automated phone line when you call Legal Aid.
Note that Legal Aid often dissuades people from applying before their first appearance, but you can do it. Going in person (to a legal aid office at any courthouse) is often better than trying to do it over the phone. You may still be told that your application cannot be completed until after a first appearance.
If you qualify, you will be issued a legal aid certificate which allows the lawyer of your choice to be paid by Legal Aid Ontario [LAO] for a certain amount of work on your case. The certificate can be sent directly to your lawyer, if already have one. If not, it will be sent to you and you’ll need to locate a lawyer (see below). LAO may also offer you a contribution agreement where you pay part of the costs of the certificate back to legal aid. If you are denied legal aid, an appeal can be made in writing – your refusal letter will have details.
More information is available at http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/type_criminal.asp or call 416 979 1446 or 1 800 668 8258. Legal Aid Ontario has stated that out of province Canadian residents can apply in Ontario but that defendants who live outside of Canada are not eligible to apply.
When will my trial be?
A number of factors make it hard to predict how long you will have to wait for a trial: availability of disclosure, the complexity of a case, police officer availability and simply how busy the courts are. Waiting one to two years is not unusual. However, a trial within a reasonable time is a constitutional right and a very long delay can result in the charges being withdrawn.
Note that your lawyer will likely have to have a ‘pre-trial’ before a final trial is set. This is a meeting with your lawyer and the Crown (and in the case of a ‘judicial pre-trial’ a judge as well (a different judge than the one that will hear the trial)) to discuss disclosure issues, possible plea bargains, what the contentious issues will be at trial and how long the trial will be.
What are my bail conditions and (how) can I change them?
When you were arrested and later released you were probably given a document called a “recognizance” or “promise to appear” – these are your bail papers, even if the word ‘bail’ is not used. Your bail includes release conditions. Some common ones are non-association with particular people (especially co-accused), not to be in particular areas at particular times, reside at particular residence, etc. Any conditions against you are attached to your criminal charges, so if the charges are dropped, you are acquitted or convicted and sentenced, the conditions no longer apply.
Breaching your bail conditions is a criminal offence. A criminal record for breach of bail (and/or failing to attend court) is taken very seriously by the court and will affect your ability to get bail down the road if you are ever arrested again. Note that all your bail conditions have to be read together, not in isolation from each other – if you do not understand your conditions, they seem contradictory/inconsistent or you cannot follow them for good reasons (e.g. your job is in a location you cannot be in), you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
If you need to change your bail conditions, the simpler method is a bail variation. This is a process involving negotiations between you (or your lawyer) and the Crown to change the terms of your bail conditions: you propose changes based on strong/compelling reasons, hopefully the Crown consents and you then present the changes in court to be finalized. Your surety/ies, if any, will need to attend court as well to sign the new bail papers. However, it can be difficult to get the Crown’s consent. Doing a bail variation without a lawyer can also be tricky, but the Duty Counsel office should be able to assist.
If a bail variation is not possible or successful, you can bring a bail review: a court hearing appealing your original bail conditions. This is very difficult to do on your own because you need to order transcripts of your bail hearing (e.g. pay the court reporter to transcribe the recording of everything said during your bail hearing) and file with them the court, along with affidavits and a written argument.
How can I find and work with a lawyer?
Finding a criminal defence lawyer (and you do want someone who specializes in criminal law!) who you can trust and are comfortable with can take some time. Ask friends and relatives for a referral or ask the MDC’s Summit Legal Support Project for our referral list.
If you don’t get a legal aid certificate, you will have to discuss costs with your lawyer – this arrangement is called a retainer. Some lawyers operate on a sliding scale based on your circumstances and in general fees can be negotiated and a payment plan worked out (e.g. instalments). If you can’t come to an agreement with a lawyer, they should offer you other referrals. Unfortunately, hiring a lawyer is often very expensive, although fundraising for G20 defendants is already under way.
Defence lawyers’ schedules make it difficult to return calls immediately but your lawyer should keep you informed along the way along about dates, options and next steps. Listen to your lawyer’s advice, ask for clarifications and discuss any disagreements but remember that final decisions about your case are yours to make. The relationship between lawyers and clients is confidential – what you tell them is privileged and cannot be disclosed to others.
How can I get support?
The MDC continues to work with activist and community organizations to help defendants self-organize, support each other, fundraise and share resources and knowledge. The 247 Committee was recently formed out of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network to organize a network for people facing criminal charges (subject to non-association conditions) and to offer logistical help. The 247 committee can help you with trauma support, property retrieval, and assist out of towners with places to stay and rides to the courthouse for set dates. They can also help you access the legal defence fund once its distribution polices and procedures are finalized. Finally, if you are interested in representing yourself in court, the committee and the MDC may try and set up a workshop with activists who have done so and can talk about possible political and legal strategies.
Let the committee know about what you need, or how you want to get involved: firstname.lastname@example.org. A meeting is planned for August 4th at OISE in Toronto.
Over a thousand people arrested, more than that most likely physically wounded and/or emotionally traumatized?
Join us on Sunday, August 8th to learn about:
- how to file a human rights claim
- the police complaints process
- how you can sue the police
- class action lawsuit(s)
Purpose of Info Session: To provide basic legal information about how each of these legal processes work, how to file claims, and who to contact for further information.
Agenda: TBD. In the next two weeks the agenda will be posted here with a specific time provided for each type of legal process that we will cover. This will hopefully allow you to better plan your Sunday afternoon.
Date & Time: Sunday August 8th, 2010; 1:30pm - 5:30 pm
Location: United Steelworkers Hall (wheel chair accessible), 25 Cecil Street (near College and Spadina).
Registration: Please register as soon as possible at http://tinyurl.com/g20legal
Note: Childcare and ASL interpretation will be provided. Please request other accommodation as needed through the registration system.
For more info on the Summit Legal Support Project or this event, please use the 'contact us' link above.
Download a flyer here.
Read more for actions to take in the meantime...
***IN THE MEANTIME, here is a “to-do list” for anyone who may have grounds for a lawsuit or a complaint, or who witnessed a potential complaint, and who has not yet consulted with a lawyer about it:
1) Write down everything that you remember about what happened, and when and where it happened, while it is still fresh in your mind.
- These notes should be made on your own, based on your own memory. Have support of friends or the psycho-social support team (email@example.com) nearby as this process could be triggering.
•- Date the document and on the top of each page write “Confidential: for my lawyers eyes only”. This may help to keep the information confidential between you and your lawyer.
- For most people, it's easiest to go chronologically. Be as precise as possible regarding dates, times, places, etc.
- Write down the names and contact information for any witnesses you know of.
- Write down any details you have about the police officer(s) involved – badge number (or the absence of any visible badge number), helmet number, name, police force, description of uniform, and any other identifying information – and what the officer(s) did.
- Be sure to keep copies of any video/audio/photo evidence with dates, times and locations. Again, mark it as “for my lawyers eyes only” if it is footage that you don't want made public.
- If possible, include the impact the events had on you. If you are injured or traumatized, this is important to document, along with medical records, counselling appointments, time off from work, etc.
- Keep at least one hard copy only in a safe place to show only to your legal counsel. DO NOT send us details of your case, of your actions or other's actions, and DO NOT send your personal documentation to us.
2) Public Testimonials
- You might want to write or speak publicly about your experiences, but it is important if you do to be more general than when you’re documenting the events for your lawyer (as described above) because anything you say in public can be used in court later. And lawyers for the other side will check to see if you’ve been consistent in all your descriptions.
- Also remember that your statements can be used in regards to other people’s legal claims, so keep that in mind when describing events where other people were involved as well.
3) If you were physically injured or traumatized by what happened to you, or feel unsure about the effects of any trauma you might have experienced:
- see a doctor right away if you haven’t yet;
- take photographs or videos of any visible injuries; and
- write down a list and description of the physical and mental injuries you sustained.
4) Keep a record of all out-of-pocket costs, no matter how trivial (e.g., taxi fare, TTC fare, or vehicle mileage for getting home from the detention centre, getting to or from court, or getting to or from a doctor’s or lawyer’s office; pain medication or wound dressings; uninsured therapy costs, lawyers’ fees, etc.). Keep all receipts.
5) Write down a detailed list of all property that was lost or damaged (clothing, bicycles, backpacks, personal belongings, etc.).
6) Keep track of any employment or other income you have lost as a result of being wrongly detained or as a result of your physical or mental injuries arising from the incident.
7) If you would like to be contacted in the future concerning possible legal options, email your contact information to MDC by visiting http://movementdefence.org/contact.
8) Check back at the MDC website regularly for updated info, http://movementdefence.org
This is why the government's apology and subsequent "truth" and "reconciliation" commission were complete, utter bullshit...
BC Authorities Snatch Three-Day-Old Indigenous Baby
by Joseph Jones
On 19 July 2010, three days after 28-year-old Loni Edmonds gave birth to her son Andre, a provincial ministry team came into her hospital room to forcibly separate her from her own newborn child. The "team" included a lot of enforcement: two RCMP officers, two hospital security staff, and one medical doctor. Supportive relatives of the parents pleaded with authorities, but they could not stop the snatch.
A member of the Lil'wat Nation who lives in the town of Mount Currie, Edmonds first went to the clinical centre in Pemberton. Even though baby Andre arrived four weeks early, he was otherwise healthy. Health care officials chose to move mother and child to more extensive facilities available at Squamish General Hospital. Shortly after her relocation, and without providing further explanation, an agent of the BC Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) told Edmonds that her baby was going to be taken into foster care on Sunday.
On that same Sunday, Bill Chu received a telephone call from a distraught relative. Chu, who has a two-decades relationship with the Mount Currie community, immediately contacted the Squamish hospital to ask about the pending apprehension. Hospital staff said they knew of no such plans.
Over the following three days, Chu sought contact with relevant MCFD officials. The Pemberton case officer stuck to generalities and claimed no apprehension would occur without prior steps (family meeting and consultation, exploration of alternative family support, etc.). Another Pemberton official returned multiple calls after two days, but only to say that privacy concerns would prevent any discussion of the case.
After encountering these bureaucratic stone walls, Chu saw no alternative but to issue a press release, which he did with the consent of Andre's parents. Authorities offered him no answers to the following two questions: Why was Loni Edmonds given no written reason for the removal of her child? How did the advance threat of removal fit in with MCFD policy?
On Tuesday July 20 Chu and one other person made a day trip to Mount Currie, to meet the parents of Andre and to talk to acquaintances. He offers this assessment:As one who has known many aboriginals for two decades, I can say the parents' appearance match their claim to be neither on drugs or alcohol. Loni’s aunt also is willing to take Loni and her baby in her home. While her husband Andrew has an unrelated health condition (infrequent seizures) and both parents are not working, the same can be said about most parents within impoverished reserves and Loni should not be denied her right to nurture her baby.
This snatch by MCFD again strikes the fourth generation of the Edmonds family with child apprehension: Edmonds’s grandmother and mother were sent to residential schools, Edmonds herself was put into foster care at the age of 10, and now this baby has been taken away with no due process. In 2007, Edmonds lost four children to MCFD, and then a younger daughter in 2009. Andre makes Edmonds’s sixth apprehended child.
A court hearing is set for 16 September 2010 in Pemberton.
Chu thinks the incentives for the apprehension stand in continuity with the discredited colonial practice of shipping aboriginal children off to residential schools. The result is "similar legacies of abuses, addictions, suicides, and dysfunctional adult lives".
MCFD summarizes the statistics: "As of September 2009, approximately eight per cent of children in British Columbia and approximately 53 per cent of the 8,677 children in the Ministry’s care were Aboriginal." The Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents mentions an alarming rate: "Between 1995-2001 there was a 71.5 per cent increase in the number of on-reserve children with status being placed in foster care." To put this in context, Canada's 2006 census shows the British Columbia "aboriginal identity population" as 196,075 out of 4,074,385, or 4.8 per cent.
Edmonds believes that the government is now paying foster parents about $7000 per month to care for her first four children. A glance at the rates and levels posted by MCFD confirms $5000 as a likely minimum.
The MCFD annual budget shows that the Province of British Columbia spends more than $1 billion a year on "contracts, grants, and payments to families" and more than $300 million on "ministry salaries and benefits." Further breakdown is hard to come by. Official BC budget estimates for 2010-2011 show that almost $750 million goes toward a list of efforts that opens withservice support, direct operating costs and local administration of community-based support services for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children, youth, and families; quality assurance initiatives; establishing new Aboriginal governance structures ...
The 2010-2013 Service Plan for MCFD targets a 6.3% increase (to the 2008/2009 baseline of 53.2%) forper cent of Aboriginal children having to leave their parental home who receive services delivered by delegated Aboriginal agencies, Aboriginal foster care providers or Aboriginal friends and family.
This means that only slightly over half of those children separated from their own families currently remain in direct contact with their cultural background.
There is clearly a fast-growing big business side to aboriginal foster care, involving a massive chunk of the provincial budget. Who benefits? And how? And why? These macroeconomic and social questions provide the backdrop to the suffering that the state is inflicting on Loni.
There are no overall figures for British Columbia reserve residents who receive a welfare pittance. The Province offers this explanation for its convenient lack of statistics: "LICO [low income cut-offs] data is not available for Indian Reserves as the LICO methodology includes the cost of shelter and aboriginal housing on Indian Reserves is usually provided."
The spendable welfare currently received by both Loni and her husband amounts to a total of less than $500 per month. (Compare this amount of less than $6000 per year with the $7938 average household expenditure for food alone in British Columbia in 2008.) Imagine the care that Loni and Andrew Edmonds themselves could provide for their family if they could receive the resources being paid out to foster care givers.
Opportunity to take action! – Downtown Eastside Power of Women has just announced a gathering at the Ministry of Child and Family Development Regional Office: MCFD: KEEP OUR FAMILIES TOGETHER! on Tuesday, August 3, 3:30 – 5:30 pm, 865 Hornby at Smithe. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604 681 8480 x 234.