Police Bring Weapons & Attitude to Anarchist Gathering
- News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
[See original for links.--DC]
Police bring weapons and attitude to anarchist gathering
By rabble staff
Created Jan 31 2011 - 9:00pm
Story Publish Date:
February 1, 2011
The second annual North American Anarchist Studies Network (NAASN)
Conference was held in Toronto at the Steelworkers Hall on January 15
The conference was a chance for anarchists or activists interested in
anarchism to meet post-G20, with opportunities for sharing wisdom and
education taking place between new and old anarchists, including those
radicalized at last June's summit. It was a non-violent, private event.
But the police, riding on a post-G20 high, showed up by the dozen, with
some officers not revealing themselves right away, but clearly knowing
the event was happening and monitoring it. So goes activism and
organizing in a post-G20 world.
But the tone plummeted further, as shown by a video taken by anarchist
Will Dean, when two officers approached the entrance of the hall on
January 15, one of them being clearly armed with a shotgun.
On the video, you can hear the first police officer attempt to enter the
facility only to be blocked by a group of anarchists -- in ordinary,
I-hang-out-in-Kensington-Market attire -- not a group of angry
black-bloc'ed, menace-to-society types. The officer states that his
business there was to investigate a gun call (In fact, this issue of a
gun on the premises was repeated by a few different officers who
appeared on the scene).
When this officer suggested that he was investigating this gun call, he
said it was for "public protection" and in response the anarchists
present exclaim "we don't need your protection."
It's not credible, given what police's "serve and protect" approach can
be like in reality. There are too many examples of abuse:
I think about the two Toronto police officers Edward Ing and John Cruz
were found guilty Tuesday January 25, 2011, of assaulting Richard Moore
-- a man with a dis/ability -- outside his home on the night of April
I remember the police abuses during the G-20 Summit uncovered by both
the Ontario Ombudsman and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
I think about Adam Nobody's bloody face after his alleged beating at the
hands of Toronto police during the G-20. One officer -- Toronto Police
Constable Babek Andalib-Goortani -- has been charged with assault with a
weapon against Adam Nobody with help of photographic and video evidence
submitted to the Ontario SIU by the public and the press. Two more
officers are being investigated.
I think about a clip of the 2007 tasering death of Robert Dziekanski by
four RCMP officers at the Vancouver Airport.
I think about the woman with cerebral palsy who was shoved by Vancouver
police early in July, 2010, because she could not get out their way fast
enough for their liking.
But I digress.
Back to the events outside the Anarchist convention. When the two police
officers tried to enter the Steelworker Hall -- one of them holding a
shotgun -- the video show they said it was to investigate an alleged gun
call at the convention, and that they needed to search the premises and
those present for the weapon. When the second officer with the shotgun
approaches the front door, the anarchists blocked the door, exclaiming
that the mysterious gun had been found -- lo and behold! -- it was in
the hands of the police all long.
The videographer, Will Dean, said in an interview it was like the
"police were still living in G-20 land where they think they can do
anything they want under the Public Works Act."
Regarding the Public Works Act -- those super secret powers the Ontario
government supposedly given to the Toronto Police that never really
existed but caused a lot of post-G-20 finger pointing and the evoking of
the War Measures Act -- police under the authority of Toronto Police
Chief Bill Blair were told that they had a right to stop and search
anyone within five metres of the G-20 security parameter fence.
Speaking of illegal searches, check out the Jan. 15, 2011 video also
taken by Dean nearby the Anarchist convention, this time of the illegal
search of activist Patrick Clohessy.
When I later interview Clohessy, he described walking towards the
convention when a police officer jumped out of his car and began
questioning him, referring to a call the police received from dispatch
about a group of 25 people all dressed in black. Clohessy was wearing a
black jacket, green pants and a gray hat that afternoon.
This excuse was later replaced by the gun call. The police proceeded to
search Clohessy -- holding him buy the arm at one point -- even though
he refused, telling him that "you're gonna be shaken down." The police
found neither gun nor 25 mini anarchists hidden in his bag.
Afterwards, Clohessy also commented on the behaviour of the police as
similar to the G-20 and described their "brazen attempt to link me to
the black bloc." He explained that he has been active in the movement
but mostly as a crowd marshal. Following the G-20 Summit protests,
activists had complained to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association at
being stopped police for simply wearing a piece of black clothing or
carrying a black napsack.
During his illegal search, the crowd that gathered around repeatedly
asked for the badge numbers that should have been on display on the
yellow coats of the bicycle unit. The crowd points out and the video
captures one officer who never discloses his badge number despite again,
Activists have felt fear when, at a demonstration, the mainstream media
would pack up its cameras and leave, believing a possible police
crackdown would begin as soon as the cameras left, but now activists are
not so reliant on the mainstream media to provide the evidence-lens to
capture police abuses.
Some activists - allowing for the cost is a barrier involved -- now use
digital cameras, which make taking, transmitting and documenting police
behavior much easier -- of course, tracking police behavior should be
secondary to documenting the demo itself.
Activists are now both in front of and behind the lens. Citizens.
From Rodney King to the G-20, was the prevalence of cameras -- media,
activist, and bystander -- the reason why 91 police officers chose to
hide their badge number identification during the G20?
Krystalline Kraus writes the Activist Communique blog for rabble.ca.
New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
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News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
in charge on this island?
Professor: Why, no one.
Skipper: No one?
Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
-- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"