Comments Off on Protesting Is Now Illegal in Toronto
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
On Saturday, January 16th, the Toronto Police Service tweeted the following:
So, it’s official. The government has declared that protesting is now illegal in Toronto, and, probably in all of Ontario.
Doug Ford has essentially said that leaving your home for “non-essential” reasons is not allowed. What is and what isn’t essential?
Thankfully, Dougie helpfully clarifies: “I know essential means different things to different people … so we need everyone to use their best judgment. If you’re not sure if a trip is absolutely essential, it probably isn’t,” he said.
Couldn’t this be taken to mean that if you aren’t sure whether or not something is illegal, it probably is? Who gets to decide? Doesn’t this essentially give the police the police to arbitrarily stop and harass anyone for any number of reasons?
At which point do we call this a police state?
The Oxford dictionary defines “police state” thus: “a country where people’s freedom, especially to travel and to express political opinions, is controlled by the government, with the help of the police”.
Of course, whether or not it is actually is illegal is a different question, given that Canada is ostensibly a constitutional monarchy, where the constitution is the highest law in the land, but how much does that matter anymore?
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is part of the constitution, explicitly states that people have the freedom of assembly, the freedom of mobility, the freedom of expression, and freedom of religion, but that hasn’t stopped the state from introducing all kinds of draconian laws this year. Is a precedent being set that basic human rights do not apply in times of crisis?
This expansion of police powers is already having tragic consequences. Consider the tragic death of Scarborough resident Moses Demian. Hours after the events of this video, which shows Mr. Demian being arrested in a parking lot after being carded* by police, Mr. Demian took his own life.
This tragedy apparently occurred because Mr. Demian refused to produce ID when the police demanded it. Perhaps he felt that he had the right to hang out in a parking lot, and chose to assert his right. Perhaps he knew that he was not legally required to produce ID (Ontario law does require you to identify yourself verbally, but not to produce ID). Perhaps he was just fed up with being harassed, and voiced his frustration. In any case, he defied a cop, and now he’s dead.
It bears mentioning that Ontario’s lockdown law, in true Orwellian fashion, is called the “Reopening Ontario Act”. So I pose the question again: Are we living in a police state? And if we are, what is to be done?
*For those unfamiliar with the term “carding”, Wikipedia defines it as “an intelligence gathering policy involving the stopping, questioning, and documenting of individuals when no particular offence is being investigated”. Activists in Toronto have long denounced it as a racist practice, as police disproportionately target BIPOC folks. To learn more about the racist use of carding in Toronto, please refer to the work of black power activist Desmond Cole.
Comments Off on Gidimt’en Territory: Solidarity Is Inclusive – We Are One
FromWet’suwet’en Access Point on Gidimt’en Territory (Facebook)
It has been almost one year since the call went out for peoples across so called canada for solidarity; to respect Wet’suwet’en laws and jurisdiction to our lands and to fight together against colonization, industrial genocide, and to stop CGL and RCMP from invading our yintah.
As we asserted full control over access to our yintah and brought industry to a halt, many others rose up with us. From large demonstrations to rail blockades to clandestine sabotages against the infrastructures of colonization, many nations, groups and people fought alongside us. These actions gave us strength in the face of the looming buildup of militarized police.
After the police raided four checkpoints on the yintah and stole dozens of people from our territories, Peoples across this land Shut Down Canada. From our allies in Mohawk and Haudenosaunee territory who occupied lands near rail tracks and highways in Tyendinaga, Six Nations, Kahnawake and Kanesatake and our Gitxsan neighbours and relatives, to Indigenous youth who occupied the ‘BC’ legislature to everyone in between and beyond who put their hearts and bodies on the line.
The movement grew for Indigenous Sovereignty from coast to coast. Still a fight for our lands, life-ways and the assertion of our law but also a dialogue between Indigenous nations acting in solidarity with each other. It acted as a turning point for many settlers to practice true reconciliation with the rightful owners of the lands they live on. A reconciliation that means: “Land Back” instead of empty dialogue with morally bankrupt governments.
Many of those who acted with us are still facing criminal and civil charges. Our Haudenosaunee and Mohawk allies are still being criminalized. Others in Hamilton still face charges as a result of solidarity actions there. Our Gitxsan relatives that took action are still facing charges. Recently two people in so-called Washington state were arrested on absurd, trumped-up charges of terrorism for allegedly acting in solidarity with us. We know there are likely many others who are being criminalized for supporting and respecting Indigenous sovereignty.
We see the charges for what they are: A desperate attempt by the colonial system to break the bonds of solidarity that were forged and renewed last winter. Scared of the backlash they would face from pursuing charges against our people and guests arrested on our own lands they doubled down on criminalizing and attacking our allies. They hoped to scare people into passivity and leave us, and all indigenous peoples, isolated from each other and from allies who would fight with us. They want to paint sovereignty and justified resistance as a crime. But they failed. We know the righteousness of Indigenous sovereignty and they will never break our solidarity.
We stand with our allies facing the weight of the colonial legal system and we demand that the colonial courts drop all charges!
Comments Off on Thou Shalt Not Question Public Health! Censorship in the Age of COVID-19
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
Something has been gnawing away at me for months. Why have anarchists been so silent in the face of increasing state repression? Aren’t radical Leftists historically the defenders of civil liberties such as the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press? Yet until recently, there seemed to be a taboo against criticizing measures justified in the name of Public Health.
Thankfully, that is now changing. In Quebec, home to a fierce anarchist tradition, it took the imposition of a curfew before anarchists reached the point of mobilizing, but I am happy to report that radical Leftists in Quebec are now taking to the streets. Today, on Saturday, January 16th, 2021, the first anti-curfew demonstration will take place in the neighbourhood of Hochelaga.
This is an encouraging sign, and I hope that it will lead to further dialogue about what the best way for the Left to respond to the new challenges of organizing a resistance movement in the age of COVID. I, for one, am hoping that to see more critical analysis emerge, as I think that we, as a movement, need to orient ourselves to the new political landscape.
It has been a dizzying whirlwind of a year. It’s hard to know what to think these days. Personally, I find myself questioning whether the political analysis that I had pre-pandemic is still relevant in a post-COVID world. In which ways do I need to adapt my perspective to keep up with the changing times? Has the world fundamentally changed?
I think that a good place to start is with the subject of censorship. The libertarian left, the broader tradition of which anarchism is a part, has historically been opposed to censorship. Nowadays, however, the Left seems to be silent on this subject. To be fair, it is a complicated subject in the age of fake news, conspiracy theories, and Cambridge Analytica. So I raise the issue earnestly, as a subject that is deserving of discussion and debate. I think that we need to seriously engage with this question, as we are undoubtedly living in an age of increasing censorship.
Let me begin with an example.
Today, Ontario MPP Roman Baber published a letter calling for an end to Ontario’s lockdown. In it, Baber makes the case that the health consequences of the lockdown, such as increased overdoses, suicidal ideation, and anxiety disorders, outweigh the harm of COVID-19. Basically, he is making a very tame argument that the lockdown is not in the public interest. His position is that “Covid is real, but the fear of Covid is exaggerated. While every death is tragic, after 10 months we learned that Covid is not nearly as deadly as first thought.” He supports his argument by citing recent statistics from the CDC about the fatality rates for COVID-infected people in different age groups. The letter can be read here:
Doug Ford’s response was swift. Baber was ejected from caucus and it was announced that he would be barred from running for the Conservative party ever again. The reason that I am writing this piece is because I think that it is revealing about the current state of propaganda in Canada.
Ford’s statement is typical: “By spreading misinformation he is undermining the tireless efforts of our frontline health-care workers at this critical time, and he is putting people at risk,” he said. “I will not jeopardize a single Ontarian’s life by ignoring public health advice… There is no room for political ideology in our fight against COVID-19 — rather, our response has been and will always be driven by evidence and data.”
Some people may be tempted to write off such a statement as the meaningless nonsense that politicians often spew, but I think that it is a good illustration of an emerging acceptance of an increasingly common attitude; that dissent is dangerous, puts lives at risk, and must be suppressed in the name of the public interest.
Let’s unpack Ford’s statement. First off, support for a lockdown is as much of an expression of political ideology as is opposition to a lockdown. Clearly, this is an absurd statement, but it seems to imply that that opposition to the ideology of the state will not be permitted. In fact, if I might interpret this statement, I would suggest that Ford’s statement makes more sense when one replaces the word “dissent” for “political ideology”. With that substitution, the sentence would read: There is no room for dissent in our fight against COVID-19. Is that what he actually means?
Secondly, which misinformation? The sources that Baber cited were sources the mainstream media usually would consider credible. Ford did not specify, although the government soon released a “fact-sheet” disputing Baber’s claims, which absurdly points out a typo. You can find the government’s response here.
Tellingly, that the CBC article includes a link to Ford’s response to Baber’s letter, but not to the letter itself. One is left to imagine that the CBC deemed that the “misinformation” was too dangerous to spread.
The CBC article is well worth reading, as it typifies the insipid state of journalism in 2021. After stating that Ontario to had announced 100 deaths this morning, the reporter goes on to say:
“The further deaths are the most recorded on a single-day since the pandemic began, though the Ministry of Health said that 46 occurred “earlier in the pandemic” and were included today due to a “data cleaning initiative” by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, but offered no further details.”
Will the CBC publish a follow-up story explaining this statistical anomaly? Somehow, I doubt it. The irony is, of course, is that the government’s attempt to debunk its critic disputes the validity of cited statistics whilst using data which appears to be falsified.
So what misinformation is Ford referring to? The statistics of the CDC? And more importantly: Who gets to decide what is and what isn’t misinformation? This question has become extremely important in the past year, as social media platforms have implemented extensive censorship policies. It is becoming more unlikely that your average person will encounter perspectives critical of the official narrative around COVID-19.
This problem is compounded by the fact that the Canadian media landscape has become increasingly dependent upon federal funds. Essentially, with declining newspaper readership and cable TV viewership, the business model of major media companies in Canada has become increasing dependent on state subsidies. You may have noticed how it is increasingly uncommon for mainstream media to be critical of the government, and how all major news outlets in Canada seem to have similar editorial policies. I would argue that this phenomenon is easily explained by simple fact that editors know who’s buttering their bread, and are loath to risk the ire of those controlling the funds they depend on for their livelihoods.
It bears keeping in mind that there are fewer journalists working today than there have been at any point in the last 20 years. The job of reporter is often a precarious one in 2021. And in the current political climate, there can be severe consequences to voicing unpopular opinions. My point is that I suspect that reporters are self-censoring. Their job is to write things that their bosses will publish. If they know that a given story stands no chance of being published, how likely are they to write it? I believe that we are witnessing a narrowing-down of what it is acceptable to say, and that we, as anarchists, must re-assert our fundamental opposition to state control over our lives.
It should be pointed out that social media platforms are scrubbing their platforms of information deemed to be contrary to the recommendations of Public Health. This type of censorship works to create a type of groupthink by making criticism of the lockdown seem like an extremist ideology, by placing it outside the bounds of what it is acceptable to say. Liberals have largely toed the party line. But we are not liberals.
I think that we need to ask ourselves? What is Public Health? Who is Public Health? What is justifiable in the name of Public Health and what isn’t? I also think that we need to develop an analysis of the term “Public Health” itself, as it gained new meaning and new importance in the past year. What is really implied by the term “Public Health”? Often, it seems that the term is used to suggest that individual wishes, needs and desires must be subordinated in the interests of a greater good. Who determines this greater good? Certainly not you or I! “Public Health” is determined by authorities vested with their role by the state. So the state determines the Public Interest. I think that what is taking place is that. “Public Health” is becoming an extremely important term in the lexicon of propaganda, and I think that we should be critical of the way that the term is being used.
Here is my perspective on “Public Health”. I believe that this term is coming to represent the concept of “Safety” or “Security”.
I believe that human beings want to be free. However,I feel that there is one thing that most people value over freedom. That is safety. If a drug cartel threatened your life or the lives of your family if you didn’t start working for the cartel, it is extremely likely that you would choose safety over freedom. Millions upon millions of people choose safety over freedom every single day. That is why, when a regime wishes to gain the compliance of a population for nefarious purposes, such as war, they focus on making people afraid. This is basic. If there is one thing that people will sacrifice their freedom for, it is safety, and propagandists have known this for centuries.
As Nazi propagandist Hermann Goering famously put it:
“[T]he people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”
Isn’t this very analogous to what is happening now? Everyday, we are told over and over again how dire the situation is. We are essentially being told that we are under attack. The only difference is that the enemy is not a foreign power but a force of nature, a virus. For a time, Trump even called COVID the “invisible enemy”.
In the place of pacifists, there are civil libertarians, those who refuse to accept the logic of Public Health. These people, often characterized as “anti-maskers” or “anti-vaxxers”, are the targets of scorn and ridicule, and by now their voices are mostly absent from mainstream political discourse. They are denounced for exposing vulnerable people to danger, and the danger of their ideas is used to justify censorship. And the scorn that they are subjected to sends a message to those who might be tempted to speak up against the normalization of arbitrary measures – it’s not worth the effort.
I think that we need to reject the logic that we need to be protected from ourselves. To accept this logic is to accept defeat. If we accept the logic that the information that we have access to must be controlled, we are accepting the logic that we must be controlled. The state would have us believe that it has our best interests at heart, and that it is manipulating us for our own good, in the name of Public Health. I ain’t buying it.
So much could be said about the spectacle recently witnessed at Washington, DC’s federal capitol building, however we will write a quick statement, hoping to further understand the situation as well as to assert a need on behalf of comrades in the States who face both imminent and ongoing grassroots violence and parallel state repression. Essentially, what we saw was not an insurrection or revolt; what the world witnessed was a permitted fascist temper tantrum.
In the Greek context, for example, we witnessed the Macedonian-name-protests rushing the Parliament in Syntagma Square before the verdict on their stupid case, and police essentially functioning as minimally as possible in part to show their obvious bias and sympathy for those seizing Parliament, while also trying not to lose their jobs. The chants heard at the capitol building – such as “U-S-A” and “Trump is President, Christ is king!” – easily find Greek analogues.
On January 6th, 2021, the American government gathered for its ritual of certifying the Electoral College results, signifying the transfer of power to a new president. It is an archaic ritual that – because it began prior to modern travel, and faraway states needed the months after the election to travel across the country by horse and carriage to participate – is held in January rather than immediately following the election’s outcome in November. This event was seen by both Trump and his followers as the last ‘hoorah’ to disrupt the transfer of power from the far-right Republican Party to the moderate right-wing Democratic Party.
The US security state’s very different approach to the MAGA mob versus an antifascist, anarchist, or abolitionist demonstration was made quite overt on the 6th. It was so obvious, in fact, that mainstream media outlets have seized upon it, in their embarrassing public displays of trying to grasp just why the police put on their kid-gloves with these self-indulgent cowards seeking to reinforce the very worst of what already exists in the US, storming a building that has its very own police force (with an annual budget of more than $500 million).
The police tolerance exhibited for Trump’s supporters was purposefully obvious. It has been public information that the extreme right in the US have chosen to infiltrate law enforcement and political positions of power (even cited in a report by the FBI) ever since the fall of the guerrilla neo-Nazi group The Order in the mid-1980s and white supremacist Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 that killed 168 people. Both were inspired by the white supremacist bible at the time, the fictional novel The Turner Diaries (1978), which featured a similar assembling of fascists identifying as patriots. Apart from formally rampant white supremacy throughout the American police force, every single police union had endorsed Trump in the US in the run-up to the 2020 election. While police tend to be more diverse in the US compared to many countries around the world, the original purpose of the police in the US was to catch slaves and crush unions, so it is inevitable that regardless of race, there is an element of fascism in such a uniform.
If BLM, anarchist, or anti-fascist banners were raised on this day, there would have been mass arrests, far more intense brutality, and a likely massacre. While five people have died due to the events of the 6th (three due to self-inflicted injuries such as tasering themselves and causing a heart attack; falling off of scaffolding; and, being trampled to death while holding a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. One cop died due to assault*, and only one demonstrator due to police violence, and the other three literally died due to their own stupidity and maintained their white privilege even in their humiliating deaths. If this was not a white supremacist event—or an ostensibly fascist event – dozens would have been killed by the police.
Apart from the daily mass murder of people of color and poor people in the US by police, the fates of Kyle Rittenhouse and Michael Reinoehl, for some very recent examples, help to explain the behavior of the police on that day, how they acted in parallel to their grassroots fascist counterparts.
Kyle Rittenhouse murdered two people during a demonstration against the shooting of Jacob Blake—a Black man shot seven times in the back in front of his children by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The event left Blake paralyzed, but the officer who shot him will face no charges despite video evidence. Rittenhouse is currently on trial for his murders, and was allowed to move freely past the police line just shortly after killing people. Michael Reinoehl, on the other hand, was a self-proclaimed antifascist from Oregon, who in self-defense shot a fascist during a Trump protest. Reinoehl went on Vice News shortly after the event to proclaim the action was in self-defense, and one day later, he was shot over 50 times by federal police. Trump openly bragged about Reinhoel’s assassination. With few exceptions, his fate was rarely discussed in the media, but shows the obstacles and struggle revolutionaries face versus the permitted ‘rebellious’ behavior of fascists and other fanatics for the misery of the world today. The courts are no different. The sentencing and investigations that inevitably follow the actions of the right are managed in a way resembling obligation, rather then the passionate and brutal judicial attacks by the state on revolutionary movements seeking liberation.
We watched this day as a liberal establishment shed spineless tears, a delusional grassroots fascist effort played coup games under the babysitter’s gaze of the police, and the media desperately tried to explain the situation, with cautious laughter: ‘it’s only cosplay, nothing to see here.’ What is certain is that those seizing the capitol by being invited into it, gates drawn, exhibited no courage and nothing that took place resembled an insurrection as the media and moderates try to claim.
The lengths the right went to in this action foreshadows the coming passive civil war already declared by the right, and is likely more emboldened than ever following January 6th. One thing that is unique about the American right, is that when they hold weapons it is not a crime until they are used to attack someone, and even then – in the case of Trayvon Martin or the recent shootings of antifascists at BLM demonstrations – the courts will show them a tolerance we would never get.
Apart from this obvious concern over the escalation of alternative and grassroots forms of violence by the extreme right, the incident has emboldened the equally dangerous American liberal establishment. The leaders of political “sanity” and moderation are the most victorious due to this fascist tantrum. The dictators of what is and is not politically appropriate, who have the audacity of pinning together liberationists, insurrectionists, and abolitionists with fascists and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists have found true victory here, as you can see in their heinously ignorant references of insurrection and anarchy in regards to the events that took place at the US capitol building on January 6th.
For years, the Trump administration has forcibly established so-called antifa, anarchists, and BLM as terrorist organizations while refusing to denote the same status to neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups. Now, there is bipartisan support for delegating groups such as QAnon (a group that believes Trump, a man facing dozens of rape accusations including rape against minors, is saving the country from a Jewish conspiracy of celebrities and politicians using their power to traffic children) and the Proud Boys (self-identified Western chauvinist group founded by Vice Media founder Gavin McInnes) will undoubtedly be used to further the already existing harsh repression of anarchist and revolutionary abolitionist movements. Just a week before the 6th, Trump’s administration drafted a bill barring all suspected antifascists and anarchists from entering the country. This bill comes from a history of recent expansions and advances in the power of border authorities under the Obama administration and the Patriot Act under the Bush administration, and will certainly go without much criticism from the Biden administration.
All of this comes as the Democrats have taken over the White House and Congress, while the far right remains in control of the Supreme Court, which has severe implications for revolutionary movements and the livelihoods of marginalized and excluded people. The recent popular support that has come out of years of Trump’s far-right absurdity and the recent Black-led revolt following the death of George Floyd and others is already facing a huge assault by the deceptions of the democratic establishment since Biden’s victory in November. It certainly will not help those facing years in prison for resistance related to the 2020 Black Lives Matter revolt.
The liberal establishment and the left that still maintain faith in the state and reform would like to refer to this event as a “failed coup” or an attack on the will of the people. These predominantly privileged calls come from a voice that sees the electoral system as one that listens to them. For most people in the US, their recent vote was motivated by guilt or a sad obligation to pick between two evils; they have been conditioned to expect nothing from a state that flaunts the motto “freedom isn’t free.” As anarchists, we reject the state’s electoral process entirely, and see no “will of a people” ever possibly upheld in a system orchestrated through centralized power and coercion. The choices provided to us in their spectacle of democratic voting are not aligned with our path to freedom, so we reject such rituals. Besides, settler colonialist rituals such as voting for representation in a Eurocentric system can never grant freedom on stolen land.
As anarchists, abolitionists, and revolutionary movements continue ahead with a struggle more sincere than trending concerns performed by aloof citizens and pretentious celebrities, we must double down on solidarity in order to not remain isolated, as the violence intended by grassroots right-wing groups coincide with a brutal police crackdown under the smiling and deceptive face of the democratic liberal establishment.
Watching politicians huddle in fear, while police and the right scuffle, it’s hard to not simply laugh at the absurdity of some of what transpired that day. However, in recent weeks, antifascists have been targeted and shot in the Pacific Northwest, and on the same day as the fascist tantrum at the capitol building, an attempted public lynching of a black woman took place at a neofascist rally in Los Angeles. These instances are what brings our laughter to a concerned pause.
The right has taken a fairly postmodern approach to racism in the US, feeling shackled by the grip of the moderate right-wing democratic establishment’s PC identity politics (that seem to address everything other than systemic classism and racism, and see giving settler colonialist jobs to colonized people an ethical form of reparation and resolution). They have adapted to a deep-web world of cryptic far-right conspiracy theories that somehow lead the poor to follow billionaires and seek out Jewish lizard people ‘pulling the strings’ of global capitalism via 5G networks, as opposed to just saying the N-word out loud like they all want to, but still want the option of running for office. This is a global concern, as fascists of this approach have breached the borders of the world from the US, to Brazil, to Germany, and so on.
It is essential that we maintain our strength against the technocrats and liberal establishment, as well as remain on guard against the many, and at times, confusing faces of contemporary fascism. We also must recognize our emboldened movement. In the US, anarchist, antifascist, and abolitionist movements have grown drastically despite heinous repression, and a new generation of courageous youth has shown their strength throughout 2020 and to this day.
Revolutionary solidarity goes beyond borders and prison walls, and helps us to remain alert, connected, and never forget each other as another lockdown and a new era of moderate fascism approaches us.
Revolutionary solidarity for all those facing prison for the revolt against white supremacy.
Revolutionary solidarity for all those who engage in sincere struggle against the state and capitalism.
– RadioFragmata / January 2021
1. Brian Sicknick, the cop who died due to his injuries on the 6th has since had his online Parler account uncovered. Parler is a social media platform popular among the right. It was discovered that the officer was a follower of various far-right accounts such as Team Trump, Gavin McInnes, and Alex Jones.
2. While unsurprising, it has since been confirmed that various off-duty police officers and right-wing politicians were among the mob at the capitol on the 6th. Reports claim that some officers even showed their badges to on-duty officers during the melee.
Stay up-to-date with repression against revolutionary movements and ongoing struggles via the following websites:
On March 15, 2021, the 25th International Day Against Police Brutality will take place regardless of the sanitary situation.
Those involved in the organization of this year’s edition will opt for adequate alternatives according to the evolution of the pandemic, which, besides, had already hit by March 15, 2020.
Because it bears emphasizing what a brutal year it has been! Through difficult times, as the entire population strives to show solidarity, there is a constant value on which we can always count: the police remain merciless.
Let us remember the final 8 minutes and 46 seconds of George Floyd’s life. Let us remember Sheffield Matthews, assassinated by the SPVM in the early hours of October 29th. Let us remember Chantel Moore, Rodney Levi, Eishia Hudson — thirty-four people killed by Canadian police in total over the first 11 months of 2020. Nearly half of those assassinated were Indigenous.
Many activities surrounding the International Day Against Police Brutality will take place before, during, and after March 15, in one form or another. In preparation, we ask you to submit any text messages, images, and video or audio recordings we may share in our annual journal and on our website.
And contact your friends and affinity groups to pass along the message that March 15th is on. Be ready!
In 2021, we are calling for police abolition, pure and simple. For a quarter-century now, we have taken to the streets to force the police to reform, to show signs of improvement — yet year after year, the situation has only worsened. Inquiry commissions are growing in numbers, reports are increasingly damning, and still, nothing meaningful has come of them.
In the end, what is this system of institutional repression and its police force for, here and elsewhere? Who is it protecting? The courts did not protect the women who fought sex offender Gilbert Rozon.
The RCMP did not protect the Indigenous people of New Edinburgh, Nova Scotia, against the racist white people who set their warehouse on fire. The SQ did not come down on the police officers who raped Indigenous women in Val-d’Or.
The SPVM used, and continues to use, all the tools at its disposal to expel the homeless from their encampment along Notre-Dame Street and many other locations around Montreal.
And finally, as of right now, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is ruthlessly deporting the “guardian angels” whose thankless work keeps our healthcare system running.
And the situation is the same everywhere. It can be seen in France, in Chile, in Haiti, in Nigeria, in the United States, in Brazil — a worldwide movement that is rumbling and spreading. A movement that is demanding the end of police as we know it. A movement that is shouting out, loud and clear.
Because we have had enough of counting the number of lives lost at the hands of the police, because the tearful sorrow of families and friends has turned to anger, because “injustice” and “impunity” rhyme with “colonial-racist-sexist system”, because there are alternatives: ABOLISH THE POLICE.
It’s been almost a year since the wave of blockades in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders known as Shut Down Canada. Since then, there has been no shortage of urgent issues, and public attention has moved on. However, for both those on the front lines and those still facing charges, moving on has not been an option.
There are currently at least sixty people still facing serious criminal charges from the raids on Wet’suwet’en territory and the solidarity movement. These actions involved thousands of people in every province of the country, and it’s impossible to describe them briefly, but here are a few aspects:
In January 2020, solidarity actions began as the RCMP prepared their latest offensive against the decade-long reclamation of Wet’suwet’en territory. When the raid started in earnest in early February, Mohawks at Tyendinaga launched a rail blockade shutting down traffic between Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. Rail disruption immediately became the preferred tactic for the movement and in the coming weeks, long-term, Indigenous-led blockades occurred as well in Kahnawake, Listuguj, Six Nations and New Hazelton. Shorter (and sometimes repeat) blockades happened in Halifax, Toronto, Victoria, Vancouver, Magnetewan, Coquitlam, Hamilton, Morris, Saint-Pascal, Edmonton, Saint-Lambert, Kamloops, Saskatoon, Elsipogtog, Saguenay, and across the border in Washington state. Demonstrations and road blockades occurred in many places as well.
From that massive mobilization, twenty-eight people from Tyendinaga Mohawk territory are still fighting charges, following the OPP’s attack on their community. The next largest group of defendants is from a blockade outside of Sherbrooke, Quebec, where some fifteen people are waiting for trial. In Hamilton, Ontario, six people are each facing four counts of indictable mischief for a 24 hour rail blockade. In the Bas-Saint-Laurent, one person stil has charges from a rail disruption and two people in Montreal have mischief charges for alleged graffiti.
During the previous winter, in January 2019, there was also a violent RCMP raid on Wet’suwet’en territory. Although the solidarity mobilization was smaller, it still saw significant demos, occupations, and blockades across the country, and these too were met with repression.
Two people who were present at the blockades on Wet’suwet’en territory during the 2019 raid still have assault police charges. In Hamilton, one person is charged for alleged vandalism at an RCMP detachment. In Montreal, six people are still dealing with charges connected to the blockade of the Jacques-Cartier bridge.
Nearly a hundred and fifty people were arrested during these two years of struggle. Many were released without charge, others simply got tickets. Some of the criminal charges laid have resolved. For instance this fall, twelve people charged from a rail blockade in Toronto saw their charges withdrawn, two in Vancouver received discharges, and all charges were dropped against those arrested on Wet’suwet’en territory during the raid last February (though the RCMP report their investigation is ongoing).
That more charges are resolving is certainly good news, however we also need to be cautious. The legal system drops charges against some in order to isolate and delegtimize others. Even as we celebrate, we need to remember that it’s likely some of those still charged will end up in prison for moments of struggle we all shared.
Everyone does not face the legal system on an equal footing. It is deeply racist and colonial, and Indigenous defendants are more likely to be found guilty and to receive harsher sentences. As well, those with criminal records, especially ones stemming from their political involvement, will also receive worse treatment and are more likely to do prison time.
The movement last winter was incredibly powerful, and the struggle isn’t over. On Wet’suwet’en territory, work on the pipeline hasn’t stopped for the pandemic, and land defenders on the front lines haven’t stopped resisting. This is true for many other Indigenous peoples across Canada — from Mi’kma’ki to Six Nations to Secwempec territory, this has been a landmark year for Indigenous resistance and assertions of sovereignty. These currents will continue overlapping with resistance to industrial expansion, creating new possibilities and sites of resistance. Nothing stopped, and there will be other times when we will need to shut down Canada again.
All successful movements face repression and have prisoners. More than avoiding repression, what matters is how we deal with it. We need to always be finding ways to show those targeted they are not alone — this makes it easier for them to get through it with strength and integrity. As people move through the justice system, displays of solidarity and practical support make a real difference in the outcome. We need to show that those who are brave and take risks will be supported if we want to be brave together again in the future and see our movements grow.
We will continue sharing updates on North Shore Counter-Info with details about the changing legal situation, and will also amplify fundraising efforts and specific asks from defendants for solidarity or support. On North Shore, they will be under the tag “Blockade Defense” (north-shore.info/tag/blockade-defense) and on Twitter under the hashtag #BlockadeDefense.
If we are forgetting anyone or you have any comments, get in touch in English or French at email@example.com. The pgp key is available at keys.openpgp.org.
Saturday night, a curfew took effect in the streets of Quebec – the widest and most intense restriction on movement since the October Crisis of 1970. The Legault government has given police the power to stop anyone outside past 8:00pm and fine them up to $6000 if they cannot provide a reason that the cops deem valid. Over the coming weeks COVID will continue to spread. Meanwhile, people without papers, homeless people, those dealing with unsafe living situations, workers of the underground economy, and people who just want to go for a walk at night – among others – are facing harrassment by the police on a nightly basis with no definite end in sight. All this to protect the status quo of an economy that is killing us and the planet. This brutal development in an era of experiments in social control cannot go without a response. It is not only possible, it is necessary, to fight back.
We refuse this escalating government control over our lives while rejecting the position of the populist right and conspiracy theorists. These groups either deny the threat of COVID-19 altogether or falsely blame certain racialized groups, often with thinly veiled dog-whistles about a “globalist elite.” Their response to COVID makes clear that we are faced with a confrontation between two ideas of freedom. The freedom we want to defend does not subjugate individuals to a state-sponsored idea of the collective good. However, it demands that we acknowledge the material reality of our world and the actual conditions of oppression – ours and others’ – and not take shelter in whatever fictional geopolitical plotlines might soothe our sense of powerlessness and affirm our indignation. This freedom assigns responsibility to each of us to fight for a life worth living, rather than endlessly projecting responsibility onto imaginary enemies. COVID is real, so is the police state.
We have never believed Legault’s calls for restrictions were based on concerns for our safety. Since the beginning of the pandemic Legault and his cronies have hesitated to shut down workplaces and schools, while at the same time further restricting our ability to create our lives on our own terms outside of work. This shows that the state only cares about us while we continue to produce and consume, keeping us just healthy enough to continue lining the pockets of the wealthy. All over the world the rich have gotten exponentially richer during the pandemic, while our pain increases. Capitalists and governments (they are the same!) are adapting to social restrictions, allowing them to profit off us while we continue to suffer. We have always been against this world of work which steals our ability to create our lives for ourselves. Let’s not allow the state to further define how we live and how we protect ourselves and our loved ones.
The criminalization of our relationships by the state is harming the mental health of more and more of our friends and family. A life lost to a mental health crisis is no less tragic than a life lost to COVID-19. The press conference of January 6th made it clear that mental health is barely an afterthought to the government. We believe how we live our lives is more important than mere survival, and reject any definition of health dictated by the demands of economic production.
Meanwhile, the state is attempting to turn us against each other. They would have us become our own little surveillance operations that need only call the snitching hotline put at our disposal to do the job of the police – who themselves have been invited to “make their rounds, sirens on, through the streets of cities in order to mark the beginning of this exceptional period”, according to La Presse (January 8, 2020).
But contrary to La Presse, we expect this period will be anything but exceptional. Exposing the power of the police state at its most violent is at best a test; at worst it is the new normal. It is up to each of us to ensure that their show of force cannot hold up against our inventiveness, and that the streets, emptied out of their inhabitants, can become a playground.
Comments Off on No Police-Based Solution to the Health Crisis!
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
Montreal, January 9, 2021
Today at 8 p.m., for the first time in our history, a province-wide curfew will be put in place. After ten months of a health crisis, our government has once again opted for a police-based solution. With alarms, sirens and flashing lights, the police will announce the time of its reign every night, at least for the next month. This strategy of intimidation and fear implemented won’t be sufficient to camouflage the amateurism and ineffectiveness of the caquiste method of pandemic management.
This “suburban government” has once again decided to make grim calculations of profitability rather than implement measures based on social justice and science. Curfews in such a context cannot be justified as a health measure. It is a choice that could prove not only ineffective, but downright dangerous. The disproportionate effect of the decision will harm the most vulnerable people in our society, those who already routinely suffer violence and brutality from our “law enforcement” authorities.
Unsurprisingly, this government is following the strategy adopted almost everywhere else, one that fits perfectly within the logic of neoliberal capitalism. There is always a lack of resources for public services, but money is never lacking when it comes to the expansion of the state apparatus of repression.
As many have already mentioned, the curfew will at most have a symbolic effect. In reality, we are witnessing the continued degradation of the social safety net and the fostering of a climate of fear. Instead of solidarity, and at a time when our mental health has already been weakened by nearly a year of uncertainty, the government is encouraging denunciation, the search for scapegoats and individual guilt, thus absolving itself of all responsibility. In Montreal, we will have nearly a hundred more cops, while what we are asking for is more psychologists and interveners. What effect will this increased surveillance have on our collective paranoia? Isn’t there any another alternative?
The radical left must not leave this fight in the hands of the right and its anti-scientific and individualistic discourse. In times of health crisis, we don’t have the luxury of blindly agreeing to repressive and counterproductive measures while contenting ourselves with preventive half measures. We have wasted too much time; it is now more than necessary to act in order to make sure that such a critical discourse is heard. We cannot afford complacency. In the face of the security overbid, it is our duty to propose another political project, one that leaves no one behind and which is based on rigorous scientific data.
In all neighbourhoods, by all means, our voices must be heard. No police solution to the pandemic should be accepted. Let’s resist the authoritarianism in place and to come, and let’s fight against curfew! We should not expect anything from a government led by a sinister paternalistic accountant blinded by power and only serving its political base.
Let’s not accept the prevailing defeatism, let’s prepare for spring!
Comments Off on How can we Defend the Freedom of Assembly in 2021?
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
A lot has changed in the past year. If you would have told me a year ago that the government would ban gatherings in private homes, and given police special powers to forcibly enter people’s homes without a warrant*, I would have assumed that you were a paranoid conspiracy kook. Yet such is the reality in 2021.
A certain video recently surfaced showing police dragging a Gatineau resident out of a house where 6 or 7 people were gathered. Apparently, a neighbour had reported a small gathering to police. I feel that it illustrates the current state of affairs well. Please take a minute to view it:
It is very strange to me that very few activists seem to be raising their voices against this draconian expansion of police powers. We should keep in mind that civil rights, once relinquished, may only be regained through struggle. Think about it. Now that the precedent is set that the state can override our civil rights, what is to stop politicians from sending police to invade people’s homes whenever it is convenient to do so. When Quebec prime minister Francois Legault gave the police power to enter homes without a warrant, it was done as an emergency measure. Well, here we are, many months later, and there is no end to the emergency in sight. I, for one, am concerned that these temporary measures may become permanent. My perspective is that previous generations of activists fought so that we could have some of the legal protections that we have. They weren’t gifts from benevolent masters. They were hard-won. My point is that, if the state is able to take a right away, why would they give it back? I think that rights exist in the minds of the people – in order for a people to behave as if they have a right, they must believe that they have that right. My concern is that many people seem to no longer believe that freedom of assembly is a right that their neighbours should have. For one thing, we are witnessing the rise of a snitch culture. A certain segment of the population now feels that they are doing the moral thing by reporting their neighbours to the police. As members of an oft-criminalized political leaning, we should be concerned. I believe that there is a “Use-It-Or-Lose-It” nature to civil rights. If people begin to believe that their rights apply only in times of peace and prosperity, then what happens if we enter into a prolonged period of economic depression and political turmoil?
In my view, effective political organizing is contingent upon the ability to assemble, whether legally or illegally, openly or clandestinely. I believe that anarchists should defend the right of freedom of assembly. It seems somewhat insane to me that this is even an argument that needs to be made in 2021, but such are the times that we live in. Nothing is more foundational to anarchism that the principle of voluntary association, that is, the freedom of individuals to associate and to disassociate at will. Yet, in the name of public health, the state has effectively suspended the freedom of assembly. Strangely, most anarchists have remained silent on this subject. Do trust the state to return our rights once this crisis is over? To me, that puts far too much confidence in the state.
I assume that most of you reading this would agree that we must, on principle, oppose the expansion of police powers, however, for some strange reason, criticism of measures taken in the name of public health seems to be taboo for most Leftists nowadays, at least in the public discourse. This worries me. People could be forgiven for thinking that anarchists in 2021 are pro-lockdown, and really, how can one be pro-lockdown without being pro-state? There is nothing voluntary about a lockdown. There is nothing voluntary about the imposition of a curfew.
If anarchists do not oppose the expansion of state powers, what cultural currency will anarchism have? There is nothing voluntary about a lockdown. It does not compute in my mind that someone could be pro-lockdown and anti-state. We are now living in a political context in which the police can invade your home without a warrant*, without laying criminal charges, without even accusing you of a crime, and in which the state encourages people to snitch on their neighbours for holding small gatherings. It seems to me that the state is boiling the frog. And at which point do we begin to resist? And how do we resist?
My feeling is that anarchism in our political context is struggling to adapt itself to the times. We have always been greatly outnumbered by liberals, people who essentially trust the government to govern in the best interest of the people. In a time where the political reality has been transformed so rapidly, in a time characterized by a dizzying cascade of confusing information, misinformation, and disinformation, we are losing our way, following the liberal herd into the state-sanctioned pen. We must steadfastly affirm what our values are, and one value that anarchists have always held is that the freedom of assembly is a foundational right that must be defended.
I am interested in starting a conversation about how anarchists should organize in response to lockdown measures. If this resonates with you, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Technically, this is debatable. In September, 2020, Legault announced a new system for the expedited approval of warrants. Presumably, this was introduced to bring Quebec’s lockdown laws into compliance with Canadian laws, however, it represents a radical departure from the previous definition of what a warrant is. Whereas a warrant used to require presenting evidence that an individual may have committed a crime or is engaged in criminal activity, now a system of “tele warranting” allows rapid approval of a warrant. I suspect this form of “warrant” is a phone call in which the officer’s request is rubber-stamped. I don’t regard this shift in definition as legitimate, and I believe that in this age of propaganda we must be wary when the state suddenly re-defines words.
Comments Off on Report-back from New Year’s Eve noise demo in so-called Montreal 2020
Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info
Though there was no public call for a noise demonstration this year in so-called Montreal, around 50 people gathered anyways. We carried on the 10+ year tradition in this region of ringing in the new year alongside our friends and family on the inside. This year we only visited the minimum security federal prison for men in Laval, Quebec – called the Federal Training Centre Minimum. It’s the prison where we can always see people in the windows and where we know people inside can hear us and see all our fireworks. We banged on pots and pans, yelled greetings, and set off a record number of fireworks.
This year has been intense for a lot of people, but especially those in prison. Though the Federal Training Centre Minimum did not see a SARS-CoV2 outbreak behind bars, its twin institution – the Federal Training Centre Multi Level did, with one prisoner dying of Covid-19 there in the summer time. Prisoners at both institutions have endured months of lockdown, with no visits from family, no group activities, and limited or no access to the gym and the library. For these reasons, it was extra important for us to visit on New Year’s Eve. We needed prisoners to know that we have not forgotten them.
Solidarity to all prisoners, including in the migrant prisons! #FreeThemAll
Solidarity to all those facing repression for participating in the 2020 uprising in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and more. #AmnestyForAll #BlackLivesMatter
For a world without prisons and the system that needs them.