Saturday, May 23, 2009
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Hamilton Anarchist Black Cross Newsletter Issue 1
The Hamilton Anarchist Black Cross came together as a group to collectively answer the need for organization that can both respond to repression from the police and legal system as well as build capacity to respond to these apparatuses in the future. We recognize the legal system, prison system and the police as structures that are implemented and maintained by the rich and therefore can only serve their interests. The purpose of these structures is violence and social control against working class, exploited and oppressed people. We recognize that any movement thathopes to overcome these factors in favor of a free and egalitarian way of life will come into conflict with these forces. We strive to support, provide resources and help build a framework for defense with communities which are burdened by the legal system, courts, jails, prisons, arrests, police harassment and police violence.
Any movement that does not have the infrastructure or ability to defend itself against repression will inevitably fail to gain any ground. Equally important is maintaining emotional and material support for those who are the victims of this repression and are paying for it via the legal process and jail time. Building a defence means access to resources like lawyers, support networks, fundraising, maintaining relationships with those locked up and connecting with those who face similar struggles. Education and outreach regarding the legal process, the prison system and dealing with the police will help build these resources. Distinguishing between “political prisoners” and other prisoners can be a limiting practice; the very idea of prison exists as a result of class and the political and social environment. The better we understand this the stronger our defence from it, the stronger our struggle against it.
Because of the way our society is organized, the threat of arrest and imprisonment is largely targeted at the working class, impovershed and excluded people. In order to maintain this social organization, anyone who steps outside or is forced outside of what is deemed ‘acceptable behaviour’ is punished. This coupled with poverty, alientation and exploitive work, lays fertile ground for anti-social violence, addiction issues, and diminished mental health leading to a continuous cycle of criminalization and repression. Imprisonment is the opposite of a realistic solution to these problems; instead it is an engine that propels them further. A society based on the imposition of violence and exploitation will of course lead to this behaviour materializing and being accepted in our day to day relations with each other. To confront these issues in a realistic way means challenging prisons and the conditions that create them.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
(reposted from Linchpin )
Kept in solitary confinement for close to seven years, Hassan Almrei, the last member of Canada’s Secret Trail Five, has now been granted bail.
Judge Richard G. Mosely in his decision said he was “…satisfied that any risk that (Almrei) might pose to national security or of absconding can be neutralized by conditions.”
Almrei has been fighting deportation to Syria. It has been determined by human rights groups and Canadian courts that if sent to Syria he will be tortured. Canadian governments have repeatedly signed international conventions against deporting individuals to torture.
The conditions placed on Almrei’s house arrest are incredibly strict. He will be the only member of the Secret Trial Five that is allowed to live alone. However with this provision a stringent regime has been put in place . The government will have 24/7 physical surveillance of his house. All visitors will need to be cleared. Security cameras will be placed at all the entrances. No access to cell phones or internet will be allowed. The telephone will be tapped. Agents will be allowed to enter the premises at any time. Leaving the house will only be allowed with sureties and council. A GPS monitoring device must be worn at all times. Canadian Border Services must be given notice as to when, where and how long he will leave the house. No travel outside of a 50km radius from his home, and he will not be allowed in train stations or airports.
Almrei is also not allowed to speak Arabic while in the presence of other non Arabic speaking sureties.
Two other members of Canada’s Secret Trail Five, Mohamed Mahjoub and Mahmoud Jaballah, recently lost a ruling that their surveillance was harming them and their families. The two men are under similar bail conditions, a huge strain on their friends and relations.
Canadian Border Services opens their mail and photographs them in public.
All members of Canada’s Secret Trail Five were arrested under the government’s “Security Certificate” legislation which allows a person to be arrested and detained indefinitely without charge. Detainees are never allowed to see the “evidence” against them. All five men continue to fight deportation to torture.
Friday, February 20, 2009
On Thursday, January 22nd, the hamilton police stormed a peaceful folk show taking place at the Mex-I-Can restaurant on James street. The show had started around 8:30, with a crowd of around thirty people come to see the traveling musicians who’d stopped here for the night. Around 11:00, halfway though the show’s lineup, word rushed through the room that there were cops outside. The show stopped, the crowd went to the street, and three people were arrested. Here’s the story:
Just outside of Mex-I-Can’s doors, three women were talking together, one of whom had an open beer. An unmarked car pulled up in front of them, and two men leapt out. Without identifying themselves in any way, they lunged to grab the woman with the drink, who panicked and ran inside; the two men followed her and seized her in the doorway. They now identified themselves as police and were joined by two other cops. A group of about ten people from inside followed the cops back out, yelling at the pigs and trying to take their friend back. The police became aggressive, striking people with their hands, and the woman was taken around the back of the police car by one cop, three of her friends close by. A scuffle broke out near the front of the car and when the arresting officer went to join in, the woman managed to escape and remained safe for the rest of the events.
The police were now arresting another woman near the front of the car, and the crowd pressed strongly against them, not letting their friend be stolen. A man in military dress came from across the street and jumped in on the side of the cops, falsely claiming to be a cop himself. Several people were captured by police but broke free with the help of the group.
During this time...police vehicle[s] arrived about every thirty seconds to a total of nineteen, including two paddy wagons.
The captive escaped, and the crowd fought a retreat back through the doors of the restaurant – all the cops were outside and most of the folk were inside. Some people stood outside between the cops and the doors trying to dialogue. The police regrouped, and Sergeant John Harris arrived and took charge. The people attempting to dialogue were now roughly struck aside and the cops stormed the restaurant. James Street was a sea of police lights for a full block in either direction.
Before long, the police emerged with the woman they were holding before, and the crowd poured back out too. One man who’d been involved in the scuffle earlier was carried out by four cops, one on each limb, while two others performed pain holds on his neck and ears. His pants were pulled down and he was not allowed to pull them back up. One person attempted to provide him with the contact information of someone who could find him a lawyer, but was prevented from doing so. A third person was arrested seemingly at random, snatched from where he stood off to one side, and his clothing was torn as he was dragged off by police.
Someone dialoguing with several officers at this point reports that the cops believed someone became violent when presented with a drinking ticket – this would become the official story. Other cops thought they were reacting to a protest, and shouted ‘Go protest somewhere else’ to the crowd, and at least one cop thought he was responding to a robbery or street fight. Many cops refused to identify themselves when asked, responding instead with insults.
The police reentered the restaurant lead by Harris and his lackey wielding a pepper spray canister. The musicians were packing up their gear, and the police turned their attention to the two merchandise tables where zines and music were being distributed. Some of the zines were anarchist in nature, and the cops asked many questions about them and tried to steal some, but this was resisted. Harris and his lackey now became extremely rude and abusive, mocking those packing up the tables and insulting people loudly. The concert was not political in nature, the money being raised going entirely to the musicians, but many people, including the owner of the restaurant, were questioned about their political beliefs and about political organizations that might be involved with the show.
Some folk talked to the cops and found out where the arrested were being held, what their charges were, and when they might be released or appear in court. The crowd got their things together, collected the belongings of those arrested, and left. Two people were charged with obstruction of justice (everything a cop does is justice, getting in their way is obstruction) and resisting arrest, and one with disturbing the peace, a nothing charge usually used to break up large groups in protest situations.
Apart from this being a ridiculously disproportionate response, there are several facts that lead me to believe that there is more to the cops’ actions than there seemed. Just before the initial police action, a friend had gone for a walk around the block and saw that directly around the corner on York Street, there were seventeen cop cars parked and waiting. As well, someone eavesdropping on cops after the crowd left reported that some cops were excited about the way this raid ‘played into their hands’ as part of an ongoing investigation.
These two facts, combined with the aggressive way they approached the woman with the open drink, makes me think that this raid was a planned act of disruption and provocation on the part of the police, not a response followed by escalation as they claimed. That Thursday, the police used bare-faced violence as part of an ongoing campaign against some part of the progressive community in this city. Likely, they desired to spread fear and confusion, and to force us to turn our energy inwards rather than outwards towards social change.
What else can we learn from this? I believe the most important lesson is to be prepared. The group there on Thursday had no reason to think they would encounter police that night, but because most folk had planned and practiced how to deal with police, they were able to act decisively and cohesively to defend themselves. Even in the heat of action, communication was maintained, and people who had never met found themselves working together effectively. There could easily have been many more arrests that night – more than ten people were snatched by cops only to be unarrested. And while some people fought back against the police, others dialogued and learned the ‘official’ stories, as well as information that allowed us to support our friends while they were held and to meet them upon their release.
Even if you and your group aren’t doing anything illegal, it does not mean you will not become the target of state violence. Looking at the actions of COINTELPRO and CSIS, we can see that state forces are usually not trying to make arrests in groups they consider politically motivated – they are trying to ruin people’s lives and make it impossible for activists to continue their work. Since that night, people who were present there have been followed by police and approached by undercovers in their workplaces. Be prepared. The cops' job is to protect state and corporate interests, and laws are only some of the tools they use to do that. Intimidation, disruption, surveillance, and harassment can be as effective as incarceration in silencing dissent.
There is no one in Hamilton unaffected by this issue, and those working for change need to be especially vigilant. Regardless of how you and your community intend to deal with police, have a plan and practice it. And it’s important that we support each other. We on the left should set aside our ideological differences in face of police repression – although we may have differences about what we want, we need to remember which side of the barricade we’re on.
Guelph, On: Action & Arrests in Support of Mohawks
On Monday, November 10, an action was carried out in Guelph, in solidarity with the members of the Mohawk Warrior Society of Tyendinaga. The intersection of Gordon Street and Clair road was blocked with debris and loose nails. An attempt was made to light the debris on fire. Protestors held signs and passed out flyers to the waiting motorists. Selections of statements from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and statements from the Tyendinaga Support Committee serve to explain the situation facing the people of Tyendinaga:
From Wednesday, November 5, 2008
At present, Tyendinaga Mohawk community members are being targeted for their opposition to an expensive new police station, paid for in part by the Federal Government of Canada, as well as their opposition to quarry operations where no adequate environmental assessments have taken place. (Tyendinaga Support Committee)
In the community of Tyendinaga, more than half the homes can’t drink their water, and the elementary school has had poisonous water for years. Right next to this school the Band Council and the Ministry of Public Safety and Security are building a $1.9 million cop shop.
On September 24th, 2008, the new police building was put on hold after community members blockaded the intended site of the building. Such demonstrations took place again on October 29, 2008. (Tyendinaga Support Committee)
Concern over the second quarry operation stems from alarm at the tremendous speed with which this particular quarry has been established and grown in size. These fears have increased in recent weeks as households in the direct vicinity of quarry operations have experienced water problems and collapsed wells for the first time ever. (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory)
Build-All Contractors is a company owned by Belleville Police Chief Maracle’s brother, and has been awarded the contracts for both the police station and the quarry.
Currently, warriors in Tyendinaga have been targeted with arrest following these mounting criticisms over Band Council operations and spending. This amounts to an unprecedented attempt to criminalize and jail any effective opposition in the community. This is an attack on our families, our children, our culture and the way we think. This has moved beyond a simple community dispute. The federal government is making a final push to eradicate those people who believe in the strength and power of the Mohawk Nation and who will stand in its defense. (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory)
At the November 10, 2008 action in Guelph a pamphlet was distributed to the public, explaining:
The location, the intersection of Clair Road and Gordon Street, was chosen, because it is a main economic artery on which trucks ship products and natural resources everyday. The day was chosen because it was the same day arrest warrants were being served in Tyendinaga.
In both Tyendinaga and Guelph (and virtually everywhere else) corporate interests threaten the safety of and access to clean water, a fundamental human right. Just down the road from the intersection where the action took place, Nestle Waters has a permit to extract 3.6 million liters of water per year, all for free. This permit was approved by the Ministry of Environment, despite a massive public outcry in Guelph. The Nestle Water bottling facility is the biggest in North America and poses a direct threat to the quality and quantity of water available in Guelph.
In both Tyendinaga and Guelph funding for police is prioritized over the actual needs of our communities. At the intersection where the action took place a new police station is scheduled to be built. This multi-million dollar endeavor comes at the expense of badly needed social services. In Guelph there is no public funding for safer crack kits, very limited addictions counseling services, and the waiting list for affordable housing includes over 2300 households.
As a result of this action Mandy Hiscocks, Yehuda Nestel, Shabina Lafleur-Gangi, Zach O’Connor, and Devin Crawford were arrested and charged with mischief, arson and a variety of other offences. As a result of the ridiculous bail conditions (including being required to live with a surety and obey a 9pm-6am curfew) some of those have been forced from their homes and communities. Some are now living in unhealthy situations. These charges come at a time of increased police harassment and surveillance of activists in our community, and they are a continuation of police attempts to disrupt political organizing in Guelph. The defendants are being represented by Davin Charney who can be contacted at 226-747-2317.
Ways you can help
Donations to the legal support fund for the defendants in Guelph will be split 50/50 between their defense and financial support of the Mohawk Warrior Society of Tyendinaga. Donations can be made by sending a cheque to:
The Central Students Association
Human Rights Office
Room 244, University Centre
University of Guelph
Include HRO – legal defense fund in the memo line
Take a moment to put pressure on the feds who are helping to make the police station happen. We need to tell the Canada state and their agents to:
(1) immediately stop their attacks, and police brutality;
(2) honour Indigenous rights and jurisdictions;
(3) support the Mohawks’ struggle for self-determination; and
(4) get Canada and Indian Affairs out of Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) Territory.
Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety, House of Commons, Ottawa
phone: 613-944-4875 or 1-800-830-3118
5 Arrested in Cayuga to Stop Edwards Street Landfill
OPP determined to escort garbage into the Edwards Street Landfill, but even after arrest of 4 supporters, Six Nations activists refuse to remove blockade. OPP violently arrest Six Nations man leaving the site.
December 11, 2008
CAYUGA - For almost five years, community members from the small town of Cayuga have been fighting to close down and to clean up the Edward Street Landfill. Haldimand Against Landfill Transfers (HALT) was formed in 2004 to prevent one of Ontario's worst contaminated sites, from becoming an active landfill again. After having spent four years in and out of courts, petitioning and dealing with government bureaucracy, HALT approached the Six Nations' Haudenosaunee Men's Council to work together on this issue. Cayuga is adjacent to the Six Nations reservation and is located on Haudenosaunee land. It was last November that representatives from Six Nations and HALT turned around dump trucks, resulting in the closure of the site for the winter. This past Monday, despite flagrant noncompliance with Ministry of Environment (MOE) regulations, the dump's operating owners tried to bring garbage into the dump for the first time in twelve months.
Monday morning, thirty individuals—with groups coming from across southern Ontario—converged at the corner of Brooks Road and Highway 3 in Cayuga, to stand with representatives from HALT and Six Nations. "The reason there are young people here from communities across the region is because we have a responsibility to prevent the provincial government, the courts, and their enforcement - the OPP, from enabling the destruction of communities' land and trampling on their right to protect it," said Alex Hundert from the KW activist group AW@L.
Once the blockade had ended, a vehicle leaving the site, carrying three people from Six Nations, was pulled over by a large string of police cruisers, and one man was violently arrested. At bail-court the next morning, the Crown prosecutor admitted that the accused man from Six Nations only “passively resisted,” but still, more than a dozen officers were involved in the assault. He was ripped from the car, thrown to the ground then kicked and tasered repeatedly. He was arrested for “failure to appear” charges stemming from an incident at the Douglas Creek Reclamation site in 2006—the original charges have already been dropped. All five arrested men were released on bail Tuesday morning.
Jody Orr, a HALT representative, said that she was “distressed by what happened on Monday. We have a situation where there is evidence that the receiver is still not in compliance,” however
“we have the MOE giving the receiver a week to bring in garbage while he is still in violation of the COA, and it puts the OPP in a position where they have to enforce an injunction against protesters who are protesting the illegal dumping of garbage.” Orr said she was also “really concerned in terms of what i heard about the level of force that was used.”
According to HALT’s website, on October 16 of this year, “the same day that Minister of the Environment, John Gerretsen, posted the Zero Waste Policy paper on the Environmental Bill of Rights website, HALT and others involved in the Edwards Landfill issue in Cayuga received an email that waste would be coming to the Edwards Landfill site.” HALT has shown that the Landfill does not comply with the MOE’s Certificate of Approval (COA). Still, garbage is being allowed into the site. As a result, HALT, Six Nations and supporters decided to be ready with the blockade.
On Monday after the arrests, once it became obvious that representatives from Six Nations were not going to stop preventing the garbage truck from passing (all other vehicles were permitted to travel freely), the truck company owner ordered the truck to leave the site and return home. Earlier in the morning, the driver had expressed interest in leaving the scene, however OPP ordered him to stay. Police said that they were intent in seeing that the injunction against the blockade would be enforced. Even after arresting four supporters, the OPP were not able to remove the Six Nations activists blocking the road.
Over the past year and more, HALT has been involved in complicated legal proceedings with the site’s operators and the MOE. Since 2004, those efforts have cost over $100,000. For more information about those proceedings, ongoing developments, and the environmental impact at the site, visit HALT’s website, www.haltthedump.ca.