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Dec 5, 22

Canadian Tire Fire #49: The Struggle Against CGL, Policing in BC, Queer Community Defense

photo: @NovotelTO

This week our main stories cover an update on policing in British Columbia, the ongoing struggle against Coastal Gaslink, and community defense for queer-friendly kids events in multiple cities.

On November 28th in Toronto, housing insecure people and their supporters occupied the lobby of the hotel in which they were being temporarily housed, after being told that all residents would have to be out by December 6th. Many residents of the building say they have no plan for where they will go next. Residents posted a list of demands in the lobby including individualized consultation for relocation plans, the right to refuse evictions, and financial compensation for belongings that have been disposed of by staff. Within a couple hours, police began forcefully removing protesters from the lobby. Eventually the rest of the protesters left together, promising to be back. The next day, one of the unhoused organizers was arrested for his involvement in the action. He is now out on bail.

In Montreal, a report-back announced that a condo sales office had its windows smashed with railroad spikes. The report-back reads:

The city is already fucking ugly but new condos make shit worse. The yuppification of Place Frontenac and Centre-Sud is imminent. The domination of capitalism advances quickly. Don’t wait a second more to practice your window-smashing throw with your friends!

In Hamilton, folks sent a message of solidarity to hunger striking anarchist prisoners in Italy and France. Their message read in part:

We were out holding up a banner with a phone number on it to connect with prisoners at the Barton jail in Hamilton, Canada, the way we usually do, but we thought we would also take a moment to express our solidarity with anarchist prisoners in struggle.

Alfredo Cospito has been on hunger strike in Italy’s Bancali prison since October 20th to demand that he be moved out of segregation and have his phone calls, mail, and visits restored. He was placed in these conditions back in May essentially to punish him for staying involved in the anarchist struggle from inside.

As the Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project, we strongly believe in not leaving prisoners behind and in supporting them when they struggle against the prisons that oppress them.

Updates on the Struggle Against Coastal GasLink

About a month after the arson of C-IRG RCMP vehicles in Smithers, BC, a communique has been released claiming responsibility for the action. It reads, in part:

In “british columbia” it is the RCMP who defend and enforce this violence. And where extractive industries meet indigenous resistance the RCMP employ a specialized division called Community-Industry Response Group. It is C-IRG cops who volunteer to raid, surveil, harass, and brutalize land defenders on behalf of their corporate masters.

Early on October 26th four C-IRG vehicles in Smithers were set ablaze while C-IRG officers slept just meters away. The fires damaged or destroyed all four trucks and spread to several industry vehicles and an ambulance in the parking lot. The CGL and BC Hydro trucks burned are hardly regrettable. The damaged ambulance was unfortunate and unintended. No one was injured in this action because steps were taken to ensure no one would be. Vehicles were only lit where it was certain fire would not spread to structures or endanger life.

The violence enacted by industry and enforced by the police damns an entire planet to a fiery desertified future. Recognizing the fact that each of us has a stake in this struggle means recognizing the importance of acting with our own agency, autonomy, and urgency. We must all sharpen our pain into the determination necessary to act against those responsible for our suffering.

It has always been the time to fight. It still is.

A month after the action, no arrests have been made.

Elsewhere in BC, people continue organizing in a variety of ways against CGL and the colonial extractive economy. In Victoria, a small group temporarily blocked access to the offices of the BC Oil and Gas Commission.

According to a journalist present at the action, the group explained that, “The BCOGC is currently permitting drilling for the pipeline under the Wedzin Kwa, without the consent of Wet’ suwet’en people living on their land.”

Drilling continues under Wedzin Kwa, while the remaining C-IRG vehicles continue to patrol the Yintah and harrass land defenders.

Moves to Increase Funding for BC RCMP and Vancouver Police

On November 23, less than a week into his tenure as Premier, David Eby announced $230 million for the BC RCMP. The funds are said to be focused on rural and remote communities, and will be spent over 3 years. The BC RCMP has called the announcement an ‘unprecedented investment.’ In the past week, the Vancouver Police Board also approved a request from the Vancouver Police for an 11.2% increase in its budget for 2023, amounting to a total budget of $383 million. The request will still have to be approved by the Vancouver City Council.

However, with a City Council and Mayor dominated by the ABC Party, who ran on a platform of increasing police in Vancouver, the ask seems likely to be approved. The ABC Party also ran with the promise of restoring policing in public schools programs that were eliminated last year following a third-party review. On November 28th, the Vancouver school board decided to restore the program in a narrow vote.

On the bright side, in Surrey BC, organizers disrupted a Coffee with a Cop event put on by the Surrey RCMP. They made sure anyone present in the McDonald’s where the event was being held knew that Surrey RCMP have killed 3 people this year alone.

Queer Community Defense

In multiple cities, queer communities had to band together after ‘Drag Storytime’ events for kids came under attack. In both Hamilton and Vancouver, transphobic and homophobic protesters groups showed up to protest the queer-positive events where drag queens read stories to kids and their families. Protesters gathered outside the events to spread hateful rhetoric and intimidate attendees, at times also attempting to, or gaining access to the events. Counter-protesters took up space outside the events and aimed to create a safer space for attendees.

A report-tback from the Hamilton event stated:

At the Hamilton event there were probably about 30 protesters, a mix of seniors, highly wing-nutty women and big dudes who looked like they came to fight. There were at least double the number of supporters, who did a solid job standing up to the haters and holding a space outside the library filled with music, chants and pride flags. To me the day felt a lot like most other anti-fascist demos in this region, with people yelling at each other with a line of cops in the middle; maneuvering to control the space; and some moments of escalated tension that threatened to break into a physical fight…

…remember there’s lots of ways to engage with events like this…I’ve heard for instance that least some haters’ lives were made more miserable that day by returning to a car with slashed tires.

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A weekly roundup of anarchist and anti-authoritarian news from so-called Canada. Email us at: [email protected]

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