Filed under: Action, Anarchist Movement, Anti-fascist, Community Organizing, Indigenous, Ontario
Community, labour and Indigenous groups push out racists and disrupt Trudeau fundraiser – by collective effort on the territory known as Kingston. Originally published on North Shore Counter-Info.
On Wed December 19th in Kingston, a federal Liberal party fundraiser was scheduled at St. Lawrence College. Labour unions called a rally for fair bargaining in solidarity with PSAC and CUPW workers. Known far-right organizer Georges Hallak, and others from near Ottawa posted a “yellow vest”/anti-UN immigration policy/anti-Trudeau invitation to the event.
We have no love for Trudeau. He is a neo-liberal, neocolonial monster whose policies give us 1000 reasons to disrupt their $400/plate dinner. But on this night our primary interest was to challenge the anti-immigrant racists.
About 8 anti-immigration racists came from Ottawa, Kingston, Napanee, and elsewhere in the eastern Ontario region to disrupt the Justin Trudeau liberal party fundraiser.
Around 70 labour and 30 community folks attended, including an anti-racist affinity group born out of local anarchist and autonomous organizing. Our goal was to to drive a wedge between the anti-immigrant racists masquerading in yellow vests as part of the far-Right co-option of the Gilets Jaune movement in France. Their stated goal was to protest Trudeau and particularly the carbon tax and UN migrant charter and, with lots of cameras and poorly written anti-Trudeau Christmas carols, to push their message out online. But they were also clearly there to cozy up to union folks, trying to create a social bonding experience over precarities of globalized Canadian work experience.
They are populists trying to push their specific interpretation of the roots of the economic crisis that much of the middle class and blue collar workers find themselves in. They are trying to spread their xenophobic lies – that the precarious employment crisis in Canada is somehow being caused by globalist Jewish overlords and untenable immigrant disrupters. We know these both to be a myth. The scapegoating and demonization of Jews is nothing new and its resurgence, including in leftist circles that uncritically share myths about the Jewish world order, is harrowing. Jews are no more and no less complicit in global capitalism than any other ethnicity, yet they have become a comfortable scapegoat to protect the rich against a true working class uprising. The global attack on migrants is one that the left generally rejects as unethical and untrue, but of course the far right continue to portray migrants as a threat to Canadian society and, moreover, any pro-refugee policy as akin to open borders and the entry of millions of migrants onto this land to fight over the crumbs we barely survive on.
Their fear and their logic was ridiculous and we ridiculed them for it.
That is why we went. To ridicule, to confront, and to expose their protest for what it was, a perversion of the anti-austerity, worker’s critique of our system.
There are two ways to critique the system. Ours is an anti-capitalist critique, which understands power and puts blame on interlocking systems of oppression–systems that divide us, harming the most vulnerable, and pitting us against each other, instead of directing our legitimate rage upward, at those truly in power, not some caricature scapegoat.
Anti-racists were present from the start, and confronted the far right outside, forming a wedge to keep them from mingling with the labour organizers, and shouting down their chants and statements to keep their message from being heard or recorded.
After at least half an hour of such confrontation, the mass moved towards the building, holding a vibrant protest inside, though far from the actual event. The racists continued to try to mingle with labour and interspersed themselves in the crowd, trying to get the odd chant here.
There were lots of perspectives and approaches to dealing with the racists, but we were united in the goal of shutting down their message and preventing them from making links with local labour. Some folks talked to them because they believe in the capacity to change minds, or to widen the wedges that are already appearing within these movements; others were there to shut them down and drive them out, using physical interventions as needed. The far right later complained of being spat on, punched and having their car tires slashed.
Meanwhile, the anti-racists built links and connections with our labour allies and took opportunities to link the betrayal of workers with the continued colonial occupation of the land called Canada, and to recognize the importance of anti-colonial struggle and migrant rights in all of our movements.
As the chants were wearing thin and energy was waning, local CUPW, PSAC, NDP, 15 and Fairness, community organizers and labour activists made a final push to breach the doors to the new special events centre in SLC. Getting through one set of security, the people were stopped by another door, behind which, we knew there would be greater and armed response. Chants echoed through the building for a while and then, as the union announced that our position was trespassing, and workers were taking a risk by staying there, somebody pulled the fire alarm. The piercing shrieks of the fire alarm representing the untold deaths and murders of Indigenous peoples on the Liberals watch, and echoed throughout the building, a fitting soundtrack to those eating their $400 a plate meals.
We came because we are not only in solidarity with postal workers and other union members, but because we are are also angry that the federal Liberals are trying to force pipelines through unceded Indigenous lands.
It was a new action for many and in retrospect some people thought we could have been more confrontational by keeping the anti-immigration racists out of the building all-together. That’s a lesson learned for next time.
We believe it’s important to develop a culture that can confront both racists and state power. We worked on this a bit by having a meeting before to talk about people’s goals, limits, and the support needed if there were arrests. We met again after the action to debrief, and discuss what worked well, and we can do differently next time. We talked through the concern that the fire alarm may have dissipated the momentum of breaching the doors to the event centre and stopped us from getting closer to Trudeau. This was not the case. Labour organizers appeared shortly after the breach calling their members back. We were going no further that night, and the fire alarm was a successful irritant that went beyond the hidden lines of RCMP, CSIS and other state forces.
We seek to learn together and learn from our different perspectives. So much anarchist propaganda is a homogenous narrative that harms or disillusions those who can feel like they are anarchists. How can we make new narratives that makes clear anarchism is for all of us?
Some of the broader lessons or reminders we took from the action was that populism is growing in our communities, but we are much stronger than them. The far right wanted to disrupt the Liberal event, but it was anti-fascists, anti-racists, Indigenous organizers and labour activists that both shut them out, sent them limping home and disrupted the Liberal fundraiser.
We will continue to get more people involved, and make space for as many tactics as possible, and to become stronger ourselves to help our anti-racist and anti-fascist movement grow.