Support the Dominion
Support the Dominion
VANCOUVER Tahoe Resources held its annual general meeting today in Vancouver, just as the Guatemalan government ordered national police to round up company chairman Kevin McArthur.
The Mining Justice Alliance was on hand outside the AGM with information on Tahoe's horrendous human rights record at its mine projects in Latin America and testimonies from community members.
Sandra Cuffe reports that "a Guatemalan judge has instructed the director of the national police force to bring Tahoe Resources founder and executive chairman Kevin McArthur to court " next week. She says the court order instructs the police to bring McArthur to court on May 13 so he can testify in the trial of a prominent anti-mining community leader from the Escobal Mine project.
McArthur is also a former CEO of Vancouver-based Goldcorp - known throughout South America and Africa for its human rights abuses and environmental destruction.
Cuffe explains that "Violence against communities organizing against the Escobal mine has included attacks against protesters and murders of local activists. A state of siege was declared in the region in May 2013. Alberto Rotondo, the former head of security at the Tahoe Resources mine site, faces trial for ordering the company's security guards to open fire on protesters in April 2013. Seven victims filed a civil lawsuit against Tahoe in Vancouver last year."
See: The complete Sandra Cuffe story on Tahoe
By Ajamu Nangwaya
"By what standard of morality can the violence used by a slave to break his chains be considered the same as the violence of a slave master?"
The May 4, 1992 Yonge Street Uprising was a pivotal moment in the resistance history of Afrikan people in the city of Toronto. This rebellion is the first and only one led by Afrikans against racial and class oppression in this metropolitan area. It forced the Ontario New Democratic Party (ONDP) government of the day to enact a slew of anti-racist and equity public policy initiatives.
The Yonge Street Uprising shared the same proximate triggering event as that which tend to inspire rebellions among Afrikans in the United States. An act of police violence was the immediate cause that led to this uprising in Toronto and the same factor is at work in the urban insurrections that have broken out in America since the 1960s to today.
The cops are the front-line personnel of the occupation army-like presence that is the police department in Afrikan working-class or racialized communities across Canada and the United States. The writer James Baldwin accurately captures the operational dynamic that makes incidents of police violence the tripwire for urban rebellion in an article in Esquire in 1960:
“…the only way to police a ghetto is to be oppressive. None of commissioner Kennedy's policemen, even with the best will in the world, have any way of understanding the lives led by the people they swagger about in two's and three's controlling. Their very presence is an insult, and it would be, even if they spent their entire day feeding gumdrops to children. They represent the force of the white world, and that world's real intentions are, simply, for that world's criminal profit and ease, to keep the black man (and woman) corralled up here, in… [their] place. The badge, the gun in the holster, and the swinging club make vivid what will happen should… [their] rebellion become overt.”
In Toronto of the late 1980s and early 1990s there were a number of cases of police killing and wounding of Afrikans and it created a powder keg-like situation in many neighbourhoods against the appearance of an open season on this racialized group. The Yonge Street Uprising erupted over Toronto cop Robert Rice killing of the 22-year-old Afrikan youth Raymond Lawrence in a west end neighbourhood.
A demonstration was called by the Black Action Defense Committee, the leading activist police accountability group in Toronto at the time, to demonstrate against this latest case of police violence. It attracted over one thousand participants. This protest action was also expressing solidarity with the Los Angeles (Rodney King) Rebellion that emerged from the acquittal of the cops for their brutal attack on Afrikan American civilian Rodney King.
Many Afrikans in Toronto and across Canada had been watching the unfolding of the uprising in Los Angeles and shared the pain of the Afrikan American community from the blatant injustice of the jury’s decision. The rage and solidarity of the Afrikans in Toronto for the insurrection in Los Angeles came from their lived experiences of undue police surveillance, beatings and the use of deadly force.
The Yonge Street Uprising was an unexpected act of resistance to the municipal political authority and the police top brass. They had rubbished the idea that Afrikans in Toronto would engage in a rebellion like their fictive kin in Los Angeles. This youth led insurrection totally surprised the political, economic and cultural elites because of their tendency to imbibe on the notion of Canadian exceptionalism when it comes to white supremacy, class oppression and policing.
It was reported in the July 29, 1992 edition of The Windsor Star that seventy-five people were charged with criminal offences, about $250,000 property damage was done to 105 businesses and over $112,000 worth of unrecovered stolen goods were some of the outcomes of the Young Street Uprising.
The rebellion alarmed Premier Bob Rae to such an extent that he commissioned the former United Nations ambassador and leader of the ONDP Stephen Lewis to look into the root causes of this social unrest. Lewis carried out a broad consultation with racialized communities, especially the Afrikan community in Ontario, and issued the report within thirty days of being tasked with this responsibility.
Lewis quite rightly located the roots of the rebellion in social factors and the oppressive condition of Afrikan life in Ontario:
“First, what we are dealing with, at root, and fundamentally, is anti-Black racism. While it is obviously true that every visible minority community experiences the indignities and wounds of systemic discrimination throughout Southern Ontario, it is the Black community which is the focus. It is Blacks who are being shot, it is Black youth that is unemployed in excessive numbers, it is Black students who are being inappropriately streamed in schools, it is Black kids who are disproportionately dropping-out, it is housing communities with large concentrations of Black residents where the sense of vulnerability and disadvantage is most acute, it is Black employees, professional and non-professional, on whom the doors of upward equity slam shut. Just as the soothing balm of ‘multiculturalism’ cannot mask racism, so racism cannot mask its primary target.”
The centring of the uprising’s origin in social and economic factors strongly contradicted the claims of media pundits, reporters, Mayor June Rowlands, the police chief William McCormack, Toronto Police Services Board chair Susan Eng, Ontario Premier Bob Rae and a range of society’s notables. They saw the Yonge Street Uprising as an exercise in hooliganism, criminality and/or opportunism by wayward elements in Toronto.
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney gave the nod to social factors as possible reasons behind the rebellion. However, he was adamant that racism was not a cause, “I think Canadians ought to refrain from the suggestion that all of a sudden Canada's engulfed with very, very grave and overriding problems of racism” as reported in the May 6, 1992 edition of the Montreal Gazette.
However, the Rae-led ONDP government immediately initiated a series of reformist anti-racism and equity social policies and programmes to respond to the underlying grievances of the Young Street Uprising. Since the 1991 creation of the Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat, which replaced the feeble Race Relations Directorate and head by a top ranking bureaucrat, anti-racism advocates among the petty bourgeoisie had been pleading with the government to demonstrate a greater commitment to anti-racism.
The Yonge Street Uprising was akin to a gift from the gods to the Secretariat because in the aftermath of this social unrest, its mandate and activities rapidly expanded. According to Stefano Harney, former Manager of Community Education and Economic Resources with the Secretariat in an article in the journal Race & Class, “By the end of 1992, the Secretariat had over fifty staff and its senior officials were present on all important cabinet committees and interministerial committees. An anti-racism policy was in the works for the government…. The Secretariat was at the heights of its power.”
It took an assertive and demonstrative initiative from below and not the polite lobbying through official channels by the petty bourgeois race relations champions to force the hand of the state. In addition to the strengthening of that anti-racism body within the state a number of measures were taken to stave off the possibility of a long hot summer of social unrest.
The ONDP government pumped a $1 million dollars into the Jobs Ontario Youth employment placement programme directed at Afrikan youth and their socially marginalized counterparts. The Fresh Arts Progam received funding from this jobs programme and it nurtured working-class cultural workers or artistes such Jully Black, Baby Blue Sound Crew, Kardinal Offishall, Saukrates and Lil’ X. Trey Anthony and d'bi.young.anitafrika were also spawned by this programme.
The government also provided millions of dollars in funding in modest grants to community development initiatives aimed at fighting white supremacy. A credit union project in the Afrikan community received funding to address its financial services and community economic needs.
The prison industrial complex and its swallowing of large number of Afrikan Canadians into its bowel has been a longstanding issue in the community. In October 1992, the state created the Commission on Systemic Racism in Ontario the Criminal Justice System and gave it the mandate to “report and make recommendations on systemic racism and the criminal justice system.” The Commission’s co-chair was Margaret Gittens, an Afrikan woman, with a track record of principled anti-racism advocacy.
White supremacist employment barriers in the workplaces in Ontario are a major problem for Afrikans, other racialized peoples and Indigenous peoples. The rebellion pushed the government into creating the Employment Equity Act in 1993, and it had the strongest accountability measure in Canada in terms of the level of fine for an infraction of the legislation. The law covered four protected groups: racialized people, Indigenous peoples, women and people with disabilities. However, the animus toward the law was largely based on racist sentiments. This piece of legislation was immediately rescinded in 1995 by the incoming right-wing Progressive Conservative-led regime of Mike Harris.
The ONDP government initiated anti-racism and equity policies in the school system across Ontario in order to respond to systemic racism in that institution.
People tend to be tolerant of the structural violence of poverty, homelessness and inadequate housing, lack of access to healthcare, limited access to education, unsafe workplace, the pollution of land, air and water, and unemployment and underemployment that can contribute to the premature death or a compromised quality of life for oppressed. When people are not able to meet their basic needs in a world with the available resources, they are experiencing structural violence.
However, when the oppressed take matters into their own hands and bring the physical fight to the oppressor, they are usually vilified and further criminalized for using violence. The Yonge Street Uprising has made it clear that the oppressed might have to resort to violence in order to occupy the stage of history as the principal actors in the drama of emancipation. The abolitionist, writer and statesman Frederick Douglass asserts that resistance to oppression is a basic condition of life:
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Ajamu Nangwaya, Ph.D., is an educator, organizer and writer. He is an organizer with the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence.
The 4th annual anti-capitalist May Day saw an unprecedented turn out of over 20,000 (not a typo and most likely way more) radicals, queers, ravers, anarchists, partiers, socialists and people from all walks of life. May Day, International Worker's Day, is a day to celebrate our power to resist the exploitation of capitalist elites. In this spirit we showed we don't need the support of corporate sponsors, the city, or the police to throw the most badass street party Vancouver has seen in a long time.
At 6pm there was already a huge crowd in the park from an earlier labour demonstration. At 7pm a free BBQ and folk show began and people were spilling onto the sidewalks, overwhelming the police. Attendees stepped up and helped cook and serve food, freeing up the organizers to move in the roving sound system. A squad of cops attempted to catch up to those grabbing the speakers, but people crewed up and out smarted the cops.
By 9pm, we got word of people already trying to take the streets and cops threatening them with arrest, so we got our sound system out there to join them, and so did a herd of people. Within a couple minutes the sound system was confronted by two cops. They were surrounded and grossly outnumbered and there was no way they were shutting down the sound. They retreated as pop cans were hurled at them.
The crowd on the street, now hundreds strong, moved toward a police line. As people pushed against the line, cops retaliated with pepper spray. The crowd decided to turn around and heard north, picking up hundreds more people from the park. In front of the march was a banner reading “Solidarity With Baltimore”.
Garbage cans, couches and City of Vancouver barricades were thrown into the street. At some point a police van had several of their windows busted out. The march then spent another hour within a 6 block radius of Grandview park. Another sound system (there were at least 4 autonomous sound systems at the party) was almost kettled by the police, but people continued the trend of out-maneuvering, out-numbering and out-smarting the cops.
By 12pm thousands made their way toward 1st ave (a major intersection) and held it for around 25 minutes. As we made it toward commercial and Broadway the crowd continued to thin, with a solid crew of revelers surrounding the sound. The organizers then brought the sound system to a safe place and called it a night. There were 3 arrests made and a lawyer is looking to get in contact with the jail.
This was Vancouver's biggest anarchist organized May Day ever. The organizers decided to take a different approach by keeping the political aspect while making it more appealing to working class people by organizing a commercial drive street party. Of course it wasn't that simple, oddly, the callout for the party went viral over the internet weeks before, with Vancity Buzz and even Virgin Radio promoting an “anti-capitalist street party on Commercial Drive”. It is unclear how or if this could ever be repeated again.
This night was probably the most joyous, rowdy and rebellious atmosphere that I and probably many others have felt in a while, if ever. We, the people, have the power to take these streets back whenever and however we want. People are complaining about the trash that was left there but it doesn’t compare to the havoc wreaked by capitalist exploitation – developers forcing us out of our own neighbourhoods and industry polluting our environments. I hope along with many otheres to to do this again and I'm sure I'll see a lot of you again. Power to the people. Take over the streets and party on Vancouver area rebellious underground!
VANCOUVER - Guesstimates went as high as 15,000-30,000 for the turnout last night to a take back the streets May Day event that had Vancouver Police solidly outnumbered. The event was hosted by Vancouver Anti- Capitalist Mayday 2015 .
The VPD tried to set up containment lines as soon as the huge crowd moved onto Commercial Drive around 10pm. They managed to push and shove a number of people and pepper spray a few more, but couldn't contain the partying crowd.
Initial reports say three people were arrested, but several were de-arrested when police tried to grab them out of the crowd.
The party atmosphere prevailed and the VPD had to stand by and watch as the party danced and marched behind Solidarity with Baltimore and We Love This Coast banners. People hung out on couches and chairs commandeered into the street.
As of 12 midnight the numbers were thinning, but the party was still going strong.
VANCOUVER - Turnout was good and the weather was great for this year's Vancouver & District Labour Council sponsored May Day March.
The marchers filled several blocks of Commercial Drive as they wound their way from 14th and Commercial to Grandview Park. Speeches were followed by music and food.
The BC Federation of Labour was on hand with BC Fed president Irene Lanzinger plugging their campaign to raise the BC minimum wage to $15. She pointed to the success of similar campaigns in neighbouring Washington state. Lanzinger also called out the BC Liberals for their insulting small change increase tied to the cost of living that insures poor people in BC will never get a living wage while they remain in power.
COAST SALISH TERRITORY - Activists in Vancouver joined other protests across BC and the continent in a national day of action called for by Secwepemc Women Warriors' Society Thursday. The protests demanded the eviction of Imperial Metals and a stop to the reopening of the Mount Polley Mine.
Last August, Imperial Metals dumped 25 million cubic metres of toxic mine waste into the lands and waterways of the Secwepemc Peoples. The spill from a failed tailings pond has had a disastrous impact on local communities that is still spreading. The tailings have now reached the Fraser River watershed and the world's second largest salmon spawning grounds.
The Sepwepemc say allowing Imperial Metals to reopen the Mount Polley mine would be a violation of their sovereignty and would lead to a further environmental disaster. They vow to prevent the mine from ever starting up again on their lands.
The protest was held outside the Ministry of Energy and Mines office, where the government is considering an application from Imperial Metals to reopen the mine. Friday, April 30 is the last day for public input on the application. Change.org has a petition against the mine reopening
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) is holding its annual conference here in Sudbury from May 6 to 8. FONOM says its “…mission is to improve the economic and social quality of life for all northerners and to ensure the future of their youth.”
However, two of FONOM’s 2014 resolutions do not improve the long-term social quality of lives or ensure the future of its youth.
In 2014, Ontario’s Attorney General introduced Bill 83, the Protection from Public Participation Act, to protect the public’s right to participate in debates and discussions on issues that affect their lives. The FONOM resolution said the act “… would create a climate where radical activists can make false claims about a company without impunity and hurt northern economies…” and urged the Government of Ontario to reconsider Bill 83. In other words, without Bill 83, deep-pocketed corporations would effectively gag dissenters by lawsuits of intimidation.
Ontario’s legislation simply supported our Charter of Rights and Freedoms with its provision of free speech. With today’s concerns about Bill C – 51 and the federal government’s other inroads on our
Constitutional rights, it is astounding that our elected municipal representatives would favour corporations over the citizens that elected them and which they are sworn to serve.
FONOM also supported, “the development of the Energy East Pipeline” since it would provide long term employment in northern Ontario and since TransCanada Pipelines Limited, “has demonstrated their commitment to pipeline safety for communities, residents and employees through safety and preventative maintenance programs.” Regrettably these claims are false. The Pipelines’ track record is replete with ruptures and oil spills across our country and that is before they started pumping heavier bitumen that is more toxic than the natural gas the company has been mishandling to date. Moreover, employment would be limited and short lived during the repairs to the existing pipeline and almost negligible once the bitumen pumping started. The only hope for more extensive employment during the 40-year lifespan of the line would be created by toxic spills requiring massive labour and clean-up costs.
Our northern youth should be concerned about the legacy being created by FONOM. With toxic spills over their land and waters, the responsibility of paying for the clean ups and their rights to free speech curtailed, our youth must be wary of what FONOM has done for them and what it may do in the future.
Is there a dark side to an organization that seems to be functioning without the oversight of those who elected its municipal representatives? How did our elected officials get swayed from the interests of their constituents to support the corporations in matters contrary to our environment and our civil rights? Perhaps these corporations, the supporters and sponsors of these annual conferences,like TransCanada have grown too close.
Council of Canadians, Sudbury Chapter
This episode of GW was produced by CJSF90.1FM on Coast Salish Territories, including the Tsleil Waututh, Stó:l?,Skxwú7mesh and Musqueam peoples, in Burnaby by Maegan Thomas and Carly Forbes.
Bill C-2, The Respect for communities act, has passed it's 3rd reading in the House of Commons and could prevent the opening of further safe consumption sites| Matt Grunland, CiTR with files from citedpodcast.com
As of April 26, the Teaching Support Staff Union at Simon Fraser University is on strike, beginning job action with an overtime ban. | Maegan Thomas, CJSF
Students in Halifax have been organizing against the deregulation of tuition as well as other issues affecting students including gender based violence and divestment from fossil fuels. | Jordan Roberts, CKDU
A caravan from Iguala Mexico is travelling across Canada raising awareness about the missing and disappeared students from Ayotzinapa | Delores Mora, CJSF
An injunction was filed against Grassy Narrows community member Judy DaSilva following a water ceremony by CN rail | Michael Welch, CKUW
Residents of Louis Riel house, Simon Fraser University's family housing resist eviction | Maegan Thomas with files from Gurpreet Kambo, CJSF
Community Radio Report:
The pros and cons of record store day in Vancouver | Kiara Shibley and Jacob Gradowski, CJSF
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.