Vancouver Statement of Support for Toronto G8/G20 Arrestees
We, a broad-based network of Vancouver and BC civil society organizations and individuals, call for the immediate release of all those currently being held as part of the G8/G20 Summit police operations, and for all charges against community organizers to be dropped.
Respected community organizers, many of whom were pre-emptively arrested before the protests even began, are being particularly targeted; all must be freed immediately.
The government wants to have the power to crack down on dissent because the G8/G20 policies are going to create it.
While G8/G20 leaders met behind a steel cage and an unprecedented 1-billion dollar police state operation, on Saturday June 26th and Sunday June 27th, we witnessed police violence in the city of Toronto on a scale never before experienced. Pre-emptive and targeted arrests, house raids at gunpoint, and mass roundups led to a total of over 1000 people arrested, the largest number in any protest in Canadian history. This weekend revealed to us all the daily violence of police and prisons as they are experienced every day for Indigenous communities, people of colour, low income neighbourhoods, street-involved youth, queer and trans people.
According to news reports, video, and firsthand accounts, protest participants, journalists, and random passersby experienced indiscriminate arrests, police beatings that led to broken bones and hospitalizations, illegal searches and seizures, threats of gang rape, physically invasive body cavity “searches” conducted on young women by male officers, lack of food, water, adequate heating or medical care for serious injuries, denial of access to legal council, and extended random detentions. Community organizers, including several people of colour, are being particularly targeted. Several community organizers were pre-emptively arrested while asleep in their beds.
Pre-emptive arrests and mass roundups are indicative of a heightened Orwellian police state seeking to justify a bloated security budget. In addition to freeing those currently detained and dropping all charges, an impartial public inquiry into the conduct of the police is essential.
Tens of thousands of labour, anti war, feminist, migrant justice, Indigenous rights, anarchist, environmental justice, anti-oppression, anti capitalist, socialist, student, and community-based activists took to the streets to stand up to the criminal policies of the G8/G20. The reasons they did so – Indigenous self determination; environmental justice; a world free of militarization; income equity and community control over resources; migrant justice; gender, queer, disability, and reproductive rights – are just as relevant today and tomorrow as they were this past weekend.
The Harper government knows that the new G8/G20 austerity measures are bound to cause unrest, and seeks to quell public dissent in advance by increasing draconian state powers.
This was the largest security operation in Canadian history, and the largest bill for summit security yet. To put the security costs in context: The Pittsburgh G20 Summit security budget was 30 million dollars in 2009. In Toronto, 1 billion was spent to keep the people of Canada under tight police control as world leaders decided to let banks off scot-free and steal from the public instead.
As the lessons of history show us, dissent is expected given the goals and outcomes of G8/G20 meetings: further erosion of basic rights, and increased divide between rich and poor via austerity measures. Police PR and media try to distract us from the real violence: cutting deficits in half while letting banks off the hook. Naomi Klein writes, “How else can we interpret the G20’s final communiqué, which includes not even a measly tax on banks or financial transactions, yet instructs governments to slash their deficits in half by 2013. This is a huge and shocking cut, and we should be very clear who will pay the price: students who will see their public educations further deteriorate as their fees go up; pensioners who will lose hard-earned benefits; public-sector workers whose jobs will be eliminated. And the list goes on. These types of cuts have already begun in many G20 countries including Canada, and they are about to get a lot worse.”
The G8/G20 countries and their criminal corporations manufacture most of the weapons on the planet, profit from war, subsidize oil corporations such as BP, and are responsible for displacing millions from their homes and lands into poverty each year.
The government is being heavily criticized from all sides both for the violent policies of the G8/G20 and for this unprecedented security budget that turned Toronto into a rights-free zone. The government wants to deflect blame onto those who stood up to protect communities from the daily violence of G8/G20 policies. We stand in support of all of the brave people who protested the G8/G20 in Toronto, including community organizers and all community members being targeted via pre-emptive and targeted arrests, who are our allies and friends.
As we saw in the streets of Toronto, in preventative and targeted arrests of community members and in mass roundups and police violence, the state wants to expand its power against the people. These targeted arrests and politically motivated, malicious charges are intended to make us afraid to speak up, and to silence the dissent the state knows will follow from the undemocratic decisions and austerity measures passed at the G8/G20 meetings that will affect us all.
VANCOUVER STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR TORONTO G8/G20 ARRESTEES
- We call for the immediate release of all those being held, including the much-loved community organizers who are being targeted by politically motivated, pre-emptive, and malicious arrests.
- We call for all these politically motivated charges to be dropped immediately.
- Police state tactics such as pre-emptive and targetted arrests and mass roundups seek to quash dissent against G8/G20 policies that affect us all; Vancouver stands in support with all those being held in Toronto.
Statements of Support:
Ian Angus, Professor of Humanities, former Director of Canadian Studies at Simon Fraser University, author of books on Canadian political culture A Border Within (1997) and Identity and Justice (2009):
“Canada is unravelling. The social and economic security net that was constructed by the struggles of working people and community organizations is being dismantled by the neo-liberal global economy that the G8/G20 represents. Homelessness, unemployment and marginalization are on the increase. Canadian society wants to be able to debate these matters, to have full information available to them, and to be able to present their views to the wider public. Without such a national and international debate, citizens are held captive by the private interests of wealthy corporations. The role of the police in this situation is significant. Recent events in Toronto suggest that the police are acting solely to protect the agenda of the wealthy few and the Harper government that is their tool. Canadians must stand together with their international allies to oppose the use of police repression to silence the exploration of alternative socio-economic forms and policies.”
Rita Wong, Writer and Associate Professor, Emily Carr University:
“These arbitrary mass arrests are unconstitutional. Furthermore, mass roundups and pre-emptive arrests serve a very unethical political purpose: to deflect attention from the systematic and widespread violence caused by the G20 policy decisions, which aim to slash public, social, educational, and health infrastructure around the world instead of holding the private financial sector responsible for its own errors and corruption. Those being held should be immediately released, and the focus of our attention should be to refuse the damage that the G20 attempts to inflict on democratic public spaces and networks.”
Dr. Stephen Collis, Professor, Simon Fraser University:
“The pattern post economic crisis is becoming clear—not a move away from a failing neoliberalism, but an unprecedented extension of its policies: privatization and cuts; meet any dissent with billy clubs, pre-emptive arrests and mass roundups. What we must do is just as clear: resist with all our might; stand together in solidarity. Free all Toronto G20 arrestees now!”
Charles Demers, Author of Vancouver Special and Comedian:
“The same government that pleads powerlessness and poverty when it comes to saving our environment, looking after retirees or ensuring that our health and education needs are met seems to discover new virility and incredibly deep pockets when it comes to cracking heads in defense of the most powerful people in the world. It’s a shame.”
Dr. Dave Diewert, Streams of Justice (a faith-based social justice group in Vancouver), former Graduate Professor of Theology:
“The death of democracy is upon us. The brutal criminalization of dissent and the vicious police assault on protestors at the G8/20 reveals how state-sanctioned violence is employed to protect the ruling elite from hearing the legitimate concerns of people whose lives are deeply impacted by decisions made behind the steel fence. When a massive security apparatus aggressively shields the leaders from the people, and punishes them for attempting to make their voices heard, we have an untenable political system.”
Dr. Larissa Lai, Professor, University of British Columbia, and award-winning author:
“Innocent people have been jailed in a drama produced for the real world stage, with the poorly disguised intention to manufacture consent for anti-democratic economic and military policies. The G20, the G8, the mainstream media and the police would very much like to frame the situation in Toronto as “good guys vs. bad guys” and use broken windows and burning police cars as symbols for how the citizenry has gotten out of control. Using these images as signs, Harper, the G20 and the police shut down legitimate dissent and civil liberties, in all their heterogeneity. But that dissent and those liberties are what constitute the most important part of our precious and hard won Canadian democracy. It is that dissent and those liberties that we all, especially the police, should be fighting to protect, not just because Canadian taxpayers are footing a one billion dollar security bill, but because if we do not, we do not have a democracy, we have an oligarchy of the rich and powerful.”
Brad Cran, poet laureate of Vancouver;
Kay Sinclair, B.C. Vice-President, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Cindy Patton, Canada Research Chair in Community, Culture and Health, Dept of Sociology, SFU;
Council of Canadians (Delta/Richmond chapter);
Jerry Zaslove, Professor and founding faculty member of Simon Fraser University,
Holly Page, Community/labour activist BCGEU;
Indigenous Action Movement;
Alissa Westergard-Thorpe, Vancouver writer and organizer;
Gordon Flett, Organizer with the IWW Vancouver, former Chair of the Vancouver & District Labour Council Strike Support Committee;
Ellen Yap, CUPE 3338 Member;
Yifan Lee, Organizer with Food Not Bombs-Vancouver and Van.Act;
Comox Valley Peace Group;
Ian Angus, Professor of Humanities, former Director of Canadian Studies at Simon Fraser University, author of books on Canadian political culture A Border Within (1997) and Identity and Justice (2009);
Erika Del Carmen Fuchs, Organizing Centre for Social and Economic Justice, Justicia for Migrant Workers BC, CUPE Local 1936 member;
Derrick O’Keefe, Writer, activist. Co-chair: StopWar Vancouver and Canadian Peace Alliance;
Meredith Quartermain, award-winning BC poet;
Jane Bouey, Vancouver School Board Trustee and Assistant Manager People’s Co-op Bookstore;
Vancouver Status of Women;
Gillian Jerome, Professor at University of British Columbia and award-winning author; Samir Gandesha, Professor and Graduate Chair of Humanities at SFU;
Anthony Fenton, Independent Journalist and member, Canadian Freelance Union; Larissa Lai, Professor at the University of British Columbia and award-winning author; Stephen Collis, SFU Professor and award-winning poet;
Dave Diewert, Streams of Justice organizer and former Graduate Professor of Theology;
Jeff Derksen, SFU Professor, critic, and award-winning poet;
Simon Fraser University Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) Social Justice Committee;
Rita Wong, Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and award-winning poet;
Mark Leier, Professor of History at SFU;
Charles Demers, Author and Comedian;
Sid Shniad of Independent Jewish Voices BC;
Clint Burnham, Professor at Simon Fraser University;
Peter Quartermain, Emeritus Professor of English, University of British Columbia;
Lisa Moore and Vinetta Lenavat, Rhizome Café;
Colleen Fuller, Researcher with Pharmawatch;
James Diamond, award-winning filmmaker;
Tom Sandborn, Journalist, Organizer;
Ray Hsu, UBC Faculty, thewayofray.com;
Carol Gigliotti, Author and Associate Professor, Emily Carr University;
Carla Bergman, co-director of The Purple Thistle Centre;
Gerardo Otero, Professor of Sociology, Simon Fraser University;
The Christian Radical blog (Catholic Worker news) www.thechristianradical.blogspot.com ;
Bruce Macdonald, Vancouver historian, school teacher, engineer;
Lenore Herb, Artist;
Stephen Aberle of Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) and Jews for a Just Peace ;
Dr. Michael T. Schmitt, Professor, Simon Fraser University Department of Psychology;
Justicia for Migrant Workers BC;
John Bogardus, Senior Lecturer of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University;
Christine Leclerc, Author of Counterfeit;
Richard H. Fahlman, member of IATSE Local 891 Vancouver, Construction Dept;
Denise Nadeau, Interfaith Summer Institute for Justice, Peace and Social Movements, Simon Fraser University;
Wayde Compton, poet and community activist (co-founder of the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project), instructor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design;
Tristan Markle, Organizer, Vancouver Action (Van.Act);
Vancouver Catholic Worker;
Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Professor, Political Science, Simon Fraser University;
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW);
Kevin Millsip, Director – Next Up;
David Eby, Civil Liberties Advocate;
The Surrey Urban Youth Project/Transformative Communities Project Society;
Check Your Head Youth Global Education Network;
Marshall Soules, former Chair of Media Studies, now Honorary Research Associate, Vancouver Island University;
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