Filed under: Canadian Tire Fire, Featured
This week we bring you news from Winnipeg, where folks gave a defiant welcome to cops from over 70 countries. We also have a roundup of Prisoner Justice Day events, and news from tenant actions in Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal!
Winnipeg Resists the World Police and Fire Games
In late July, Winnipeg hosted the World Police and Fire Games – an international event that saw cops from over 70 countries descend on the city to participate in sport competitions. Folks in Winnipeg made sure to let them know that the event was not welcome in the city.
— Emily Leedham (@Emily_Leedham_) July 29, 2023
On the same day that the event kicked off, Winnipeggers took part in a critical mass bike ride through the streets of downtown. One major focus of the protests was the ongoing calls to “search the landfill” – to recover multiple Indigenous women whose remains are believed to be in either of two landfills on the outskirts of Winnipeg. Community members claim that the approximately $17 million put toward the games, including contributions from all levels of government, is insulting while these calls, and many other community needs, remain unmet.
The event set up “designated protest zones” to try and absorb the dissent, but the protests took their own shape and did not conform to the protest zones. On Sunday July 30th, about 200 people joined a rally in downtown Winnipeg calling again for a landfill search. After the rally, the crowd marched to one of the venues where the games were taking place. Many in the crowd tried to push through the gates to enter the venue. According to the CBC, some protesters left red handprints in paint on police cars, and one police car window was allegedly smashed.
More than 65 phrases including profanity and acronyms used by police abolitionist groups were spray painted along the WPFG Half Marathon route. It is believed the graffiti occurred overnight. Major Crimes is investigating.https://t.co/I43O0UUx7f pic.twitter.com/4e4vow8h5D
— Winnipeg Police (@wpgpolice) July 31, 2023
Others took it upon themselves to heavily graffiti the route of the Games’ half marathon. Winnipeg Police drew criticism for a twitter post announcing that the major crimes unit was investigating, once again displaying their hypocrisy in the resources they are willing to pour into their own interests. In Vancouver, a solidarity banner was put up, and a solidarity rally was held repeating the calls to search the landfill.
📆 TODAY – Wednesday August 2.
📍Vancouver Art Gallery. Southside.
— Defund604Network (@defund604) August 2, 2023
Prisoner Justice Day
Prisoner Justice day began in the 1970s as a day to remember all those who have died in prison. August 10 1974, Eddie Nalon died in a segregation cell in Millhaven Prison near Kingston. One year later, prisoners held a one day work and hunger strike to remember him, and every year since, prisoners across so-called Canada and beyond continue this tradition.
📆 Thursday, August 10
⏰ 6-8 PM
📍 Claire Culhane Memorial Bench, Trout Lake Park
FB event: https://t.co/3jHdciLXWJ
— Defund604Network (@defund604) July 24, 2023
Inside, many prisoners observing the day continue not to eat every August 10th. On the outside, many cities across so-called Canada held events to acknowledge the day.
In Vancouver, organizers held a memorial at Trout Lake Park. The event was organized in the spirit of solidarity with all communities impacted by incarceration and featured speakers with experiences of incarceration. The event also served as a fundraiser for abolitionist organizing in the city.
In Saskatchewan, organizers held a memorial at the Regina Legislative building.
In person vigils planned in Montreal and Ottawa were unfortunately canceled due to a storm, but an online stream of speakers took place instead. You can watch that online event here.
In Toronto, an event was held as well. The organizers sought to brig attention specifically to:
1) The ALARMING and INHUMANE deaths that are increasing behind the bars of our correctional system
2) The abusive treatment towards people incarcerated
3) Justice-seeking groups and the work being done within our communities to support imprisoned people and end imprisonment as a response to social problems.
4) DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY
5) How to get involved to make transformative change
In Hamilton, a crowd rallied outside the local prison and held up banners and signs in solidarity with prisoners. The Barton Prisoner Solidarity Project, a local prisoner support group, reported that multiple ranges had called them to confirm that they were refusing meals that day.
Today is #PrisonersJusticeDay, when prisoners often engage in hunger or labour strikes to fight for better conditions. We joined friends outside Barton Jail in solidarity with folks incarcerated in our city – some ranges have organized a hunger strike to mark this day. pic.twitter.com/SSLX8gTiiC
— CUPE Local 3906 (@cupe_3906) August 11, 2023
In Halifax, a healing circle and smudging ceremony was organized by the Nova Scotia Elizabeth Fry Society to mark the day.
Please join us for Prisoners' Justice Day on August 10th! pic.twitter.com/wLO4y2MedD
— Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia (@EfryMainland_NS) July 20, 2023
In Kingston, an annual memorial and healing circle was held on the site of the former Prison for Women.
Tenant Actions and Ongoing Rent Strikes
Rent strikes in Toronto are still going strong after months!
On August 1st, the rent strikes at 71, 75 and 79 Thorncliffe Park Drive entered their fourth month. Tenants marked the day with a rally at the office of their landlord, Starlight Investments.
Today tenants of 71, 75 and 79 Thorncliffe Park Drive rallied at the head office of our landlord Starlight.
The rally kicks off our fourth month on rent strike in protest of rent hikes we cannot afford. pic.twitter.com/zpjy6Q78iO
— Thorncliffe Park Tenants (@tparktenants) August 1, 2023
Rent strikes at 33 King st and 22 John Street entered their third and second month at the beginning of August. On August 1st, tenants rallied at the offices of their landlord, Dream Unlimited, and returned hundreds of eviction notices. They disputed claims in the media that the landlord is willing to negotiate, clarifying that the landlord has thus far made no moves to address tenants’ concerns.
To mark the beginning of the THIRD MONTH of the rent strike at 33 King & 22 John, tenants returned hundreds of eviction notices to their landlord Dream Unlimited today and issued Dream Unlimited a notice of their own: the rent strike continues… 🧵 pic.twitter.com/CmvHdxZAat
— YSW Tenant Union (@YSWtenants) August 1, 2023
After returning eviction notices to their landlord, the King Street and John Street tenants joined Thorncliffe Park tenants in their action, in a great display of collective power.
After delivering notice of the continuation of the 33 King & 22 John rent strike we joined our neighbours from @tparktenants in solidarity as they put their corporate landlord Starlight & PSP Investments notice for the FOURTH month of their rent strike!✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼✊🏻#StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/tHrOlBYD0N
— YSW Tenant Union (@YSWtenants) August 1, 2023
In Hamilton, tenants of 1083 Main St East disrupted a ‘real estate empowerment conference’ hosted by their landlord Dylan Suitor. Earlier this year, tenants went almost 3 months without running water in their building. Now, rather than maintaining the affordable units, Suitor is attempting to kick out low income tenants in the 60-unit building. The tenants and their allies occupied the front of the building outside the conference, calling on Suitor to withdraw the evictions.
What an action today! Two weeks ago we learned about Dylan Suitor's landlord empowerment conference in #Burlington and quickly organized to be there!
— HamiltonACORN (@AcornHamilton) August 1, 2023
In Montreal, organizing continues against Bill 31, the housing law which would make it possible for landlords to unilaterally block lease transfers. The Montreal Autonomous Tenants Union (SLAM-MATU) has called for a rent strike against Bill 31, rent hikes, and for housing for all in the coming months. They are holding an information session on August 19th to explain the “Why and How” of rent strikes to those interested in learning more and participating. You can find more information here.
A pledge is available here for renters to fill out if they are willing to participate in the rent strike along with a minimum of 5000 other people. According to SLAM-MATU:
If 5,001 people fill out this pledge (that’s five thousand plus one), a rent strike will be called. If 5,001 people do not fill out this pledge, then anyone who has filled it out does not need to go on rent strike. The rent strike committee will contact you for strike meetings and to let you know if 5,001 pledges to strike have been received.
Meanwhile, the FLIP – Front de lutte pour un immobilier populaire is organizing a demo against Bill 31 on August 25th at 5pm at Metro Papineau.