Tuesday, July 20, 2010

No More Police State Tactics

July 19, 2010 Infoshop News

Local activists have prepared this London, Ontario version of the Toronto
statement about police tactics at the G20 summit in Toronto. We believe it
is important for Londoners to present a unified voice to demand the civil
liberties that were attacked in Toronto. We invite signatures from anyone
living, campaigning, or working in London, Ontario, or elsewhere in the
nearby region.

Our statement is an abbreviated version of the original Toronto call –
with added points about links between London activists, London police, and
the Toronto summit. (These added points are in paragraph three, and
demands 6 and 7, at the end of the statement.) The original Toronto
statement basically offers a more detailed summary of events in Toronto in
late June.

We also have made one addition to the text from the Toronto call. In the
following sentence, we have changed the words “harassment by police” to
“harassment and sexual violence from police” - “The reports of those
released from detention reveal a pervasive pattern of sexual, gender,
trans, homophobic and racist harassment and sexual violence from police.”

If you want to SIGN ON to the London, Ontario statement, PLEASE WRITE TO
theLondoncall@gmail.com and include your name and affiliation (as you
would want it in the final version), and the category you prefer to be
placed in (trade unionists, activists, arrested and detained, legal
workers, teachers, cultural workers, students, etc). We ask you to sign on
as soon as possible. We will be collecting signatures from individuals,
and from groups and organizations.

The signature list will be released in waves. The first release will be
sent out in advance of the July 17th day of action for civil liberties.

We believe it is possible to shift the terms of the debate, and to shine a
spotlight on the abusive police practices during the G8/G20. But we need
your help to do that.

Here’s the London statement -

The London Call: No More Police State Tactics

The police response to the protests against the G8/G20 in Toronto was the
largest mass arrest in Canadian history, and the most far-reaching single
assault on political rights in the Canadian state since the War Measures
Act of 1970.

This response fits the pattern of militarized policing at global summits,
which consistently produces mass arrests. It also builds on long histories
of police brutality in this city and across Canada, particularly aimed at
people of colour, indigenous peoples, and poor communities. The use of
these police state methods is increasing as the social divides produced by
neoliberal policies deepen.

Many of the London, Ontario police apparently were assigned to the G20
summit “security” forces. And London residents were among thousands of
individuals who were threatened, detained, searched, and/or arrested by
G20 summit police. Local activists also were arrested in London on June
15th for putting up posters to promote the mobilizations against the
G8/G20. Despite the free speech rights supposedly protected by the
Charter, local police responded to local postering by holding these
activists overnight, before subjecting them to restrictive bail
conditions. One of these activists since has been singled out by Toronto
police, who have been trying to portray a small group of Canadians as
property damage “ringleaders.” Others with ties to London have been among
this set of activists, who police have held for several days, while
threatening to press various fabricated charges (for supposed conspiracy,
for example).

The ground for brutal policing in Toronto was prepared by extraordinary
legislation passed in secret by the Ontario government, which misled the
public regarding the designated G20 security zone. As part of the $1
billion security buildup, there was a massive police presence on the
streets of Toronto, beginning days before the summit. This militarized
police presence then escalated in the lead-up to the weekend.

On Saturday, June 26, the mass arrest of protesters began. The pretext for
this crackdown was the limited property damage in protests that day, which
was similar to recent hockey riots in various cities but treated very
differently. We believe it is important to openly discuss and debate the
effectiveness of various tactics used in activist mobilizations. However,
the key issue remains the security build-up and police response that was
completely out of proportion to Saturday’s events. Over the course of the
weekend, more than 1000 people were detained. Activists were arrested in
their homes or grabbed on the streets by police snatch squads. These
targeted arrests reveal a disturbing degree of racial profiling of both
residents and visitors to Toronto, consistent with ongoing police
practices. Peaceful protestors also were beaten by police and shot with
rubber bullets and tear gas “muzzle blasts”. Scores of protestors and
bystanders were penned in for long periods by police.

In the week leading up to the summit, officials conveyed a focus on
“anarchists” in this security crackdown. This simplistic targeting of a
long-standing political tradition was further used by police to justify
assaults on all demonstrators as well as the round-up of activists by
claiming they were hunting for the “Black Bloc” This criminalization of
activists aimed to silence attempts to address the real issues presented
by the G20.

It is clear that long-term police plans, including the heavy infiltration
of activist organizations, were at work in the mass arrests on Saturday
and Sunday. The closure of many public institutions, including the
University of Toronto, attempted to create a ghost town in the core of the
city to facilitate the arrest of activists.

Statements by the Mayor of Toronto and Chief of Police have focused on
labeling non-Torontonians as the source of disturbances. The image of
“dangerous outsiders” draws on racial and ethnic stereotypes and suggests
that it is not legitimate for people from outside Toronto to exercise
their rights to political expression, free association and freedom of
movement. The G20 is a global assault that requires global solidarity in

The hundreds who were detained faced dismal and abusive conditions. People
were held in overcrowded cages and denied access to food, water, and legal
counsel. Friends and families did not have access to information about who
was detained or when they might be processed or released. The reports of
those released from detention reveal a pervasive pattern of sexual,
gender, trans, homophobic and racist harassment and sexual violence from

This assault on civil and political rights must never be allowed to happen

To contact us, send an e-mail to: theLondoncall@gmail.com

We the undersigned call for:

1. The immediate release of all those detained.

2. A full campaign to defend the civil rights of those facing charges
arising from this extraordinary policing regime, especially those facing
excessive charges and/or punitive bail conditions that criminalize, limit
mobility, and curtail rights in the long term.

3. An independent public inquiry into police actions during the summit,
including disclosure on the role of police infiltrators leading up to and
during events, and the chain of command for the extraordinary crackdown on
legal rights and protests.

4. An end to the targeting of anarchists by the Conservative government
and the police.

5. The resignation of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.

6. The issuing of an immediate public apology by the London Police Service
for its role in targeting activists and criminalizing dissent.

7. A public account of the role of London police in Toronto operations
during the G20 summit, as well as subsequent protests in Toronto.

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