Archive for G20
People’s Voice Editorial
The chaos and waste which marked the brutal repression during the G20 Summit was on display again August 23 in Toronto, as hundreds of people facing criminal prosecution appeared in disorganized and packed courtrooms. For many, the charges were dropped, or diverted without a finding of guilt. Police did not explain why they had arrested these people. Hundreds of defendants still face expensive and time-consuming criminal proceedings.
This appalling exercise is further proof that the massive “security” operation simply flushed a billion taxpayer dollars down the toilet. Police stood and watched during the only episodes of property damage during the Summit, then moved in to arrest about one thousand people at random, using the flimsiest pretexts.
There is nothing new in this scenario. Canada has often witnessed “police riots”, from the “Regina Riot” which halted the On to Ottawa Trek, to the vicious attacks on demonstrators during the 1997 APEC Summit, and many more. These are not the acts of “rogue cops” – they are planned assaults on the public, calculated to intimidate working people and their allies from mobilizing to challenge the established capitalist order.
As the Toronto Community Solidarity Network points out, “the people who are facing serious charges … were on the streets demanding safe and affordable housing, workers’ rights, an end to war and occupation, and environmental justice.”
The bogus charges against the remaining defendants must be dropped. Instead, we need an independent public inquiry to pinpoint who organized the massive and illegal attack on basic democratic rights and civil liberties. Those perps should be in the dock, not their victims.
Communist Party of Canada leader Miguel Figueroa has sharply denounced the wave of police repression which swept over downtown Toronto on June 26-27 during the G20 Summit. Figueroa has called for a comprehensive independent public inquiry, including a thorough investigation of those politically responsible for giving a “green light” for the police thuggery and the unprecedented number of detentions and arrests.
“Most of the 900 people – mainly youths – arrested on Saturday and Sunday were not engaged in any unlawful activity. Nor were they anywhere near the perimeter fences. They were expressing their democratic right to dissent in public,” Figueroa said on June 28. “Even media workers and curious bystanders were victimized when the police charged and began indiscriminately beating, bloodying and detaining all those in the vicinity.”
This outrage has been compounded by the ill-treatment of the detainees, added Figueroa, noting reports that the arrested were herded into cold, dirty and cramped quarters, and denied even basic access to food, water or bathroom facilities, in violation of their rights.
“The police `riot’ and the mass arrests did not come about spontaneously, or result from the overzealous behaviour of individual officers,” the Communist Party leader added. “It is obvious that the police tactics had been carefully worked out well in advance, provided with legal `cover’ by Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s secretive Order-in-Council measure, and vetted by the Office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”
“All three – Harper, McGuinty and Toronto Police Chief Blair – are culpable for this `reign of terror’ on the streets of Toronto,” said Figueroa. The Communist Party, along with many other labour and democratic organizations, are also furious about the mounting evidence that police sent in undercover agents provocateurs to mingle among the protesting anarchist groupings, and instigate property damage and the torching of police vehicles in order to provoke clashes and justify the heavy-handed police attacks.
“These tactics are not new – the use of police provocateurs masquerading as members of the anarchist `Black Bloc’ or similar `direct-action’ groups was well documented in the 2007 SPP protests in Montebello, Quebec, and at other summit protests around the world,” Figueroa noted. “And their purpose is all-too-clear – to discredit and delegitimize genuine mass protests against the capitalist policies of the monopolies, the banks and their governments; to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation to frighten others from openly expressing their opposition; and to pave the way to ever more authoritarian limits on civil liberties and political rights. Such repugnant tactics have no place in our society. Those responsible for organizing and authorizing these proto-`police state’ actions must be identified and brought to public account.”
The Communist Party leader also criticized the adventurist policies and actions by various anarchist groupings – especially the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance (SOAR) and the “Black Bloc” – for playing into the hands of state repression.
“It is high time that the anarchists and their misguided and counter-productive policies be publicly repudiated and condemned. Their infantile antics pose absolutely no threat to the ruling class and its state apparatus,” Figueroa said.
“Such actions are extremely harmful in that they scare away the masses of working people from political struggle, and provide a convenient cover to those trying to further curtail the democratic rights of the people.”
The Communist Party leader concluded by reiterating his Party’s demand for immediate measures to guarantee the rights of the detained people, including their speedy access to a court hearing; for a full and independent public inquiry into this appalling incident; and for stepped-up efforts to build a broad, militant and united Canada-wide campaign to defeat the Harper Conservatives.