Gita Hashemi on Mon, 25 Mar 2002 11:34:52 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Report on anti-Tory events in Toronto, CA

This is a very short report about the weekend events in Toronto, Canada.

On Friday evening and Saturday, there were a number of public 
protests held in Toronto against the conservative agenda of fighting 
the poor and protecting the rich, coinciding with the provincial Tory 
convention to elect a new leader in place of Mike Harris.

Collective actions included a peaceful "snake march" organzied by 
Ontario Common Front (a network of anti-poverty, labour, community 
and student groups) on Friday evening where Tories were holding a 
dinner heavily baricaded by the city and provincial police forces 
(dressed in black uniforms).  Nearly 60 people were arrested by the 
aggressive police forces who confronted the demonstrators with tear 
gas and full anti-riot gear.  I cannot provide any detail about the 
conditions of the arrests since I wasn't there.

On Saturday, the Labour movement held a rally in front of the Tory 
convention attended by striking OPSEU workers (government employees, 
on strike since March 13th).  On their way to join this rally, 
Ontario Common Front demonstrators (several hundreds strong) were 
surrounded by several lines of cops that impeded the rally and slowed 
it down considerably.  Before I and a number of other people who left 
the OPSEU rally to lend support to Common Front got there, the cops 
had already arrested 6-7 demonstrators, apparently because they were 
presummed to be organizers of the march.  The cops behaved quite 
aggressively and tried to provoke the demonstrators by forcing them 
to stay on a narrow sidewalk while the street was fully occupied by 
mounted police, foot men, and paddy wagons (one with a smiley face 
drawn from inside on its back window).  At one point, in a 
several-minute long stand-off with the cops, the protesters were 
chanting "We're not violent, how about you?"

The official number of arrests reported by the media is 70.  The 
Toronto police cheif Fantino has called for the federal government to 
pass legislation to make it easier for the police to arrest and hold 
demonstrators.  Over the past few months, we have been witnessing a 
rise in the level of aggression and wide-spread surveillance by the 
police in reponse to the mounting collective actions.  The mainstream 
media response, including government-funded Canadian Broadcasting 
Corporation (CBC), have primarily remained either silent about the 
events or "reported" only the official propaganda.  In the case of 
the CBC, while they failed to report anything about the 
demonstrations, they were quick to publicize Fantino's call for wider 
repressive powers for the police.  All of these are clear indications 
of the real nature of "democracy" in North America.

I have no recent news about the 70 people who were arrested.

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