Often forgotten in the midst of exciting direct action campaigns is what can happen to activists if they get arrested. Court support has always been the unsung work of activists who also happen to work in the field of law and justice or of groups such as the Movement Defence Committee.
I can't tell you how important jail and court support is to the movement, but may I just remind my gentle readers of the police crackdown surrounding the G8/G20 organizing. Individual lives and communities were ripped apart as Canadian law enforcement sought to make an example of certain high profile -- and thus targeted -- activists.
Indigenous rights activists and their allies were especially targeted by the police.
Back in 2010 I wrote, [activists who were arrested before the G20] "Hundert and Henderson are confident that the goal of the Crown and the police to repress social movements and break apart networks of activists is one that will fail. During the G8/G20 protests in Toronto, more than 40,000 people took to the streets to challenge the G20 agenda and to stand up for Indigenous sovereignty, migrant justice, women's rights, environmental justice, queer and trans people's rights, economic justice, and against the government's and police's increasingly repressive attacks on people's rights and freedoms."
According to Leah Henderson, "We are being targeted for the ideas we advocate as anarchist organizers including decentralization of power, non-hierarchical and non-coercive community structures, active resistance against oppression, and real freedom and equality. The Crown has singled us out specifically as anarchists, but also as allies to Indigenous land defenders."
The idea and necessity of court support started taking root within the Canadian activist community who were preparing for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) demonstrations in April 2001. Fast forward more than a decade and the G20 demonstrations saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.
Idle No More is a movement that is constantly respecting the future by respecting the past. There were certain topics in the past which are still being debated today -- including the need for road or rail blockades or occupations. Again, let me remind you that this fight for Indigenous rights just didn't start on the first day of Idle No More.
What I also like about Idle No More is its intimate knowledge of history as a motivator to move forward; sometimes that motivation was filled with historical hate, and other times with historic hope.
More recently, Indigenous rights activists in Elsipogtog, New Brunswick, have been arrested and found guilty of various charges after police raided an anti-shale blockade camp in July 2014.
Right now, social media is drawing our attention to another activist who has come into conflict with the law: Chris Thunder.
According to his Go Fund Me account, Thunder was arrested on August 20, 2014 and still remains behind bars where he has been charged with alleged breach of his bail conditions -- he was alleged found to be without the presence of his sureties -- as he tried to make his way to the Peoples' Social Forum.
His allies claim that Thunder was directly targeted by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
Regarding activism, "Direct Action is very important to Chris, and also likely the reason that he has been targeted. He is not trying to run away from his legal responsibilities to go to court, but is rather embracing his responsibility as a Haudenesaunee to protect the land."
You can keep up to date on Thunder's situation or donate to his legal fees here.
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