Statement from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
On June 26 and 27, the political representatives of the world’s greatest thieves and murderers gathered in Toronto. They held their ‘G20 Summit’ in a billion dollar armed camp financed with public money stolen from vital social programs. They threw out some meaningless platitudes and drew up a plan around their real agenda – solving the crisis of their bankrupt system by imposing austerity and poverty on people throughout the world.
With the Harper Government hosting the event and standing on the right wing edge of the discussions, plans were drawn up to halve public deficits by 2013. They will not, however, take the money back from the banks and corporations they bailed out. Instead they will gut public services, destroy social infrastructure and launch a war on poor and working people. Across the world, people under attack and in struggle saw that the Toronto Summit was challenged and that the massive array of police security protecting it failed to silence that challenge.
On the 24th, Indigenous people and their allies took to the streets. On the 25th, OCAP along with many community organizations and joined by thousands,came out to fight for justice for communities. We faced police intimidation and attack without backing down and, after marching through the streets, put up a tent city in Allan Gardens that was held throughout the night in solidarity with the homeless and all those being displaced and forced from their homelands here and abroad.
On the 26th, tens of thousands took to the streets and thousands of them would not accept a route well away from the security fence that the trade union/NGO leaders had negotiated with the cops ahead of time. At Queen and
Spadina, a confrontation began that continued all through that and the next
day. It was marked by firmness and courage on the part of those taking to
the streets and by brutal police attack. The largest mass arrest in the history of Canada unfolded. Basic civil liberties were effectively eliminated. The over one thousand who were arrested faced inhuman conditions and despicable treatment in the now-infamous Eastern Ave Detention Centre.
People were taken by the cops without the slightest legal justification. But still people filled the streets and defied the G20 enforcers. By Monday, the sheer scale of the abuses was beginning to cause disquiet in high places. More seriously, it was clear that the violent intimidation was failing miserably. Thousands came to police headquarters that evening to challenge the police state conditions being created in this City. They faced a subdued array of cops.
Harper’s plan for an austerity meeting complemented by a show of force that
would deter opposition had utterly failed. The cops did not even wait for the events of the 26th to begin their crackdown. A series of raids on homes and buildings offering accommodation to protesters began the night before. People’s doors were broken down, some were carried away in the middle of the night or early morning in unmarked vans, some even at gun-point, with little knowledge of what was happening to them. Our comrades from Quebec were particularly targeted with extreme anti-Quebecois violence.
Many vocal and respected community organizers, our friends and allies, were targeted and are still detained. We are now building legal support and political solidarity with those facing serious charges and attempts to detain them for trial.
Antiquated and reactionary ‘conspiracy’ charges are being used by the Crown. It should go without saying that our movement will spare no effort to ensure those facing legal persecution are given all possible support, that they are set free and the politically motivated charges laid against them be dropped. OCAP wishes to show our solidarity with all G20 defendants and we demand their immediate release. This is an attempt to criminalize, silence and intimidate our movements, and we will fight against it. At the same time as we fight and win this legal battle, we must set our sites for the resistance that emerged around the G20 to grow.
We can and must build strong social movements in the fight against the austerity agenda that the G20 devised. This agenda is the real conspiracy that must be defeated. As they work to cut vital social programs, attack public sector workers, expand security apparatus at home and abroad, attempt to criminalize and brutalize poor communities, migrants, people of colour and First Nations communities, we will mobilize to fight back.
The International Monetary Fund has called for twenty years of austerity. The elements of that agenda will be decreed by governments and backed up by lines of cops. We have shown in this City, as people around the world have already demonstrated, that our resistance can be stronger than their austerity. We will defeat their agenda and create a society where the exploiters and their thugs go on trial while we build a world based on solidarity and equality.