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Organizing for upcoming anti-hate rallies in Toronto

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Image: Flickr/Alisdare Hickson

If you think that you're the only one who has been worried about the Make America Hate movement in the United States and are struggling to find a way to get involved, to act, you are not alone.

Let me tell you again: you are not alone.

In fact, you have over a thousand friends, acquaintances and solidarity activists who are actually very concerned alongside you.

I'm sure you've heard from at least one person that what happens in the United States' is their own sovereign business so it shouldn;t concern us, when in fact it does.

We were all shocked when we heard that someone had died in the racialized clashes between alt-right demonstrators and the left wing, anti-white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. We were shocked when we saw the video of how activist Heather Heyer died -- with thirty others injured -- while the demonstration she was participating in was marred by a hit and run.

The hit and run seemed to come out of nowhere while demonstrators were passing through an intersection. As the black car raced -- driving backwards trying to make a quick getaway -- I'm sure it was pretty obvious to the driver that a major accident had occurred. Firstly, because of the total amount of damage to his car, and secondly, because of all the commotion with demonstrators desperately running after the vehicle to get the licence plate number. James Fields from Ohio has been charged with murder.

Heyer's mother was interviewed by CNN where she said of her daughter that, "she felt it was important to speak up for people who are not being heard."

Even more devastating was the alt-right's reaction. Neo-nazi supporter Andrew Auernheimer referred to Heyer as a "fat skank" and asked Daily Stormer readers to target her funeral

Trump's response proved to us that actions speak louder than words. Even the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called him out, though not by name, denouncing "the failure at the highest political level of the United States of America to unequivocally reject and condemn" racist violence, saying it was "deeply concerned by the example this failure could set for the rest of the world."

Her death recalls our shock when we learned that anti-globalization activist, Carlo Giuliani, was killed in a demonstration more than a decade ago. We were faced with the same criticism, that his death occurred in another country so it does not affect us. But it does. And "an injury to one is an injury to us all" rings true here and with Giuliani.

We held a vigil at the Italian Consulate because we knew his death mattered.

Carlo Giuliani was an Italian anti-globalization demonstrator who was shot dead by a police officer when Giuliani approached him and his vehicle. He participated in the mass demonstrations against the Group of Eight (G8) summit that was held in Genoa, Italy, from July 19 to July 21, 2001.

Let me tell you a bit about him. Giuliani, who was from Rome, came from a family steeped in activism. His father, Haidi Giuliani, would go on to become a Senator for the Communist Refoundation Party after his son's death.

His son, Carlo, died on July 20, 2001, after clashes between anti-globalization demonstrators and Italian Carabinieri in the fortified Piazza Alimonda. Even after all these years, I still remember watching the video that caught his death on camera. Giuliani was penned in by the police and he chose to raise a large fire extinguisher practically over his head. Now we will never know if he raised the fire extinguisher to throw at the police or to shield himself from rubber bullets. We do know that he was shot in the face at point blank range.

Genoa was turned into a walled city just as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) demonstrations turned Quebec City into a fortified city in April, 2001. The chain linked fence was christened the Wall of Shame.

There is something disturbing -- for citizens' rights and for democracy -- to set the tone for the meetings in such a way, as in Quebec City and Genoa, had to watch the fence being assemble right before their eyes, before the summit would even begin.

The need to keep the public as far away as possible is disturbing as if our politicians are too afraid of their own citizens that they feel safer in a locked down city and locked down meetings. Fences do not make good neighbours, and even worse politicians.

Hoping to avoid fences -- is that why the next G7 meeting is being held remote location, with geography a stand in for the chain linked kind of barrier? Looking over the G7 meeting scheduled for early summer of 2018, Jaggi Singh has publicly posted that Google Maps has pinned the Quebec location to be about five hours away from Montreal in La Malbaie.

Sounds like the government has learned something from the last time it held a major political event, never let it be held in or near a big city like Toronto in 2010 for the Group of Twenty (G20) after a smaller G8 meeting was held in cottage country with much less disruption. It was here in Toronto where police over-kill of their duties led to the largest mass arrest ever in Canadian history, as roughly 1,100 people were detained or arrested.  

There are already two demonstrations in Toronto planned against "Make America Hate Again" and a white supremacist ideology that has turned up in Canada as seen in recent anti white supremacist rallies at city hall. These have so far been small, where alt-right Canadians have faced off against their leftist counterparts.

There is a Toronto rally planned for Thursday August 31, 2017, called Fight The Right: We Stand With Charlottesville which will start at 6 pm from Queen's Park. The rally is being hosted by the group SAFE: Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere.

There is another rally against hate being planned for Thursday September 13, 2017. While the time for the rally is still scheduled to start at 6:00 pm, organizers realized that Dundas Square was not going to be a big enough venue to meet at, so the location has now been changed to Queen's Park.

This rally was first conceived to counter a Toronto Nationalist Party that was supposed to be held at the University of Toronto, but they have recently decided against the idea. Organizers wrote, "In light of countless recent tragedies sparked by hatred and bigotry, we will absolutely be moving forward with our Unity Rally on 9/14."

In both cases, these rallies will need our support. Recent experiences of organizing against the alt-right and white supremacy has taught us that they will try and counter-rally us probably on both dates and we don't want to give anyone the impression that they hold the majority opinion in Toronto. So that is why coming to these rallies is stepping up our responsibilities in advocating for the world we want to be.

And to show the world that we believe that Heather Heyes' death matters to us. Just as confronting hate matters to us.

Image: Flickr/Alisdare Hickson

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