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Targeted for Harassment

Organizing in the face of Police Initimidation

Yesterday I spoke at a press conference held by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN). The event was at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre which is to be the site of  G20 meetings in just two weeks. The press conference was organized in order to call out CSIS and the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) for their ludicrous billion dollar budget and their intimidation tactics and harassment targeting community organizers, activists and their families.

The goal of the press conference was to reframe the popular dialogue on G20 resistance away from the story of ‘protesters vs police’ and towards the understanding that the mobilization is about the people challenging and confronting the G20 and their elitist policies of exploitation and assimilation.

Here is the speech I delivered as a representative of an organization that has had several members targeted by the G20 security machine:

“AW@L is a community-based organization. We spend most of our time organizing educational events at the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Centre for Social Justice. We also work in solidarity with and in support of First Nations groups engaged in frontline Indigenous sovereignty and land protection struggles.

Our members, in addition to being involved with the TCMN, have also been involved in organizing the KW People’s Summit–a series of educational panels, workshops and presentations about the G20 and about the mobilization.

AW@L members, including myself and my partner have been targeted for the purposes of harassment and intimidation. They are trying to scare us away.

People in our group who have been visited are parents, they are students, they are legal professionals and young activists. The ISU is trying to make people afraid to oppose the destructive anti-democratic policies of the G20.

More than half-a-dozen members of our organization have been targeted by CSIS and the ISU for harassment and intimidation.

People have been visited at their homes.

People have been visited at their places of work.

People have been followed through their neighbourhoods.

CSIS agents have refused to leave people’s homes when asked and have also refused to identify themselves.

Police have detained people and harassed and threatened their families and their immigration status.

In a single 24 hour period, almost every single person of colour in our group received visits from either CSIS or the Toronto police.

The ISU and CSIS have told flagrant lies, trying to create division and mistrust in our group.

Despite this harassment and intimidation and the billion dollar security budget, we are still resolute in our commitment to challenge the elitist colonial policies and practices of the G20.

I want to close today with a quote from a community organizer affiliated with the KW Community Centre for Social Justice, from an article recently posted to the internet:

Do not let the media confuse you. The activists, organizers, and protest groups coming in from all over this state are not simply shit-disturbers. They are not just getting together to riot, or alter corporate property, or protest in a self-masturbatory way. These people EVERY DAY are building the communities they want through local initiatives. And it is not protesters versus the police as the media frames it. It is the PEOPLE confronting our political leaders, who are promptly hiding behind fences and ignoring us.”

The night of the press conference I was arrested in Guelph after being pulled over for a “routine traffic stop.” The criminal offence I am now being charged with is possession of less than 1 gram of marijuana. While my court date is not till August, on the afternoon of June 25–the first day of the summit in Toronto–I have to go to the cop-shop for finger printing. Wish me luck.

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