June 20, 2022
From It's Going Down
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photo: @RisingTideTor

This week, new data released by the Toronto police provided numbers to back up what many already know: Black people in Toronto face vastly disproportionate degrees of police violence. Despite making up about 10% of Toronto’s population, Black people are the subject of 24% of Toronto Police “enforcement actions,” and 60% more likely to face violence during these interactions, and are 130% more likely than white people to have a gun pointed at them while unarmed. It could not be more clear that the police are a violent and racist institution that must be abolished.

In Prince George, BC, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.(IIO) announced that they are not recommending charges for a jail guard whose conduct “could potentially amount to torture,” according to the CBC. In the event under investigation, a man was left in an RCMP detachment cell for approximately 8 hours while screaming in pain with a fractured hip. While the RCMP have announced “more oversight” in their cell block operations, we know that this is just another example of an irreparable, rotten system.

Winnipeg Couriers Take Independent Strike Action

Outside strip malls and restaurants across Winnipeg on June 10th and 11th, people may have seen food delivery couriers holding up colourful signs asking services like Skip the Dishes, Door Dash and Uber Eats to raise delivery rates to $9. Dozens of delivery couriers participated in the protest, which was organized via a Whatsapp group chat.  Drivers say inflation and the extreme price of gas is making them lose money on deliveries. Throughout the day they encouraged other drivers to reject orders and join their organizing. The couriers have also stated their desire to unionize.

Wet’suwet’en Updates and Solidarity Actions

On June 13th, Gidimt’en Clan announced they are building a new Balhats (feast hall) at the ancient village site near Gidimt’en Checkpoint. The building of the feast hall is a further assertion of the rights of Wet’suwet’en people to (re)occupy their lands, as many are currently living full time on the village site. A press release states that the feast hall will be available to all Gidimt’en Clan members and other clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation to hold feasts for all things related to their governance system and lands.

Folks across so-called Canada have found different ways to keep up the pressure on pipeline profiteers and collaborators. In Toronto, a group crashed the the “RBC Open” golf tournament with banners, music, and a giant inflatable version of the RBC CEO. Some people also ran onto the course to disrupt a game, unfurling a banner and setting off smoke bombs.

People in Toronto also hung a banner and postered around the office of Toronto MP Marco Mendicino, the Federal minister of public safety.

In Vancouver, people smashed the windows of the BC Attorney General David Eby after he approved criminal prosecution of contempt charges against Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters. The communique read:

Last Wednesday, David Eby, the Attorney General of BC, fucked up by approving criminal prosecution of contempt charges against Wet’suwet’en land defenders and their supporters. We helped him re-decorate his office in recognition of his poor choices.

Early Tuesday morning, we smashed the glass of his fancy Kitsilano office. We left behind messages demanding that the charges be dropped. Eby and his prosecutors have no jurisdiction in Wet’suwet’en territory. Eby and all “canadian” politicians should understand they are watched and their racist decisions will always have consequences.

Eby’s decision applied to everyone arrested November 18th at Gidimt’en Checkpoint village site, including legal observers. Another 10 land defenders who were arrested at Coyote Camp are waiting to hear how the crown will proceed with their charges. Their next court date is July 7th and they are calling for the pressure to be kept up!

Meanwhile, in Toronto, another person has been charged in connection with the rail blockade that took place in November 2021. To date, three other people have been charged or ticketed in connection with this event, but all charges have been dropped. Two weeks ago, a racialized migrant rights organizer learned of a 7 months-old open warrant against him when crossing the border back into Canada.

In a statement on the arrest, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network explains:

Leaving warrants open, and not informing those with warrants, is intended to have a chilling effect especially as they can be acted on out-of-the-blue while crossing borders, or next time someone is at a protest. It is meant to cause doubt among other participants at actions. We must not allow this tactic to succeed.

Toronto Mining Conference Disrupted

In Toronto, hundreds of people maintained a years-long tradition of disrupting the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference on June 13. A callout for the event explained:

Over 60% of mining companies worldwide list as Canadian, raising more money on the Toronto Stock Exchange than anywhere else in the world. This same industry is also one of the most egregious offenders when it comes to human rights and environmental abuses. Toronto is the belly of the beast for the mining industry which means those of us in Toronto have a responsibility to act in solidarity with mining impacted communities around the world.

Speakers included members of Indigenous Nations from across so-called Canada, as well as communities in Colombia, the Philippines, and Tigray, whose lands and people have been impacted by mining. For over two hours, protestors filled the street outside the conference entrance.

New Analysis into the City of Toronto’s Misinformation on Park Encampments

As temperatures rise in the summer months, we can expect the struggle around homeless encampment evictions and defense to heat up again. It has been nearly a year since Toronto Police cleared an encampment at Trinity-Bellwoods Park, using pepper spray and clubs. In the lead-up to the evictions the City created a narrative of encampments where dangerous fires are commonplace. And as the state oppression was carried out that day the city also set up a media exclusion zone – zones that have twice been decided to be unlawful by Canadian courts – in an attempt to prevent too many people from seeing what a government will do to homeless people who dare occupy public space. Combating state public safety narratives can be difficult but a recent report from Briarpatch magazine provides a useful example of how to identify misinformation spread by the state to justify their actions.

Briarpatch magazine has investigated the City of Toronto’s media narrative and media exclusion around the Trinity Bellwoods Park eviction. They identified that one of the City’s main talking points around encampments was fires and fire risk. Four media releases by the City on or before June 8th 2021 mentioned the Toronto fire department responding to 253 fires in encampments. This paints a picture of out of control, dangerous fires within encampments. But as acting fire chief Tony Bavota explained in a June 8th City Council meeting, the “253 fires” were fire responses, only about half of which were uncontrolled. The other half could further be broken down into controlled fires, false alarms, and any other time the fire department responded to a call. Despite being informed of this distinction, the City continued to use the “253 responses” as a media talking point.

And, none of this addresses the escalated risks that many residents face when seeking temporary housing in other spaces like shelters, and the reasons why a park may still be their safest option. All of this is building up a case the city will likely use to justify more violent evictions this summer. Let’s stay wary of misleading narratives, and ready to respond when our neighbors are under attack – in Toronto and everywhere.

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Source: Itsgoingdown.org