Good news from the anti-poverty front.
On July 21, 2010 during an OCAP rally against the McGuinty Government's cutting of the Special Diet, eleven OCAP members and supporters walked into the offices of the Liberal Party to deliver an 'invoice' outlining how much money is owed to poor people on assistance in this province.
[To find out more about the Special Diet Campaign, please read: McGuinty's axing of the Special Diet program is a catastrophe to poor and sick Ontarians]
Inside Liberal HQ, they went to a window, put out a banner and addressed the crowd outside. Police soon arrived and, rather than issue warnings and provide any opportunity for the protesters to leave, they handcuffed them, announced they were under arrest for trespass and that they would be taken to the 52 Division.
Eleven people were arrested in total. Nine individuals were taken to 52 Division where they told that their charges had been elevated to mischief; only to be informed later by detectives that a charge of forcible entry was being added and that everyone would be held overnight because each accused person would need to line up a surety to put up money for them.
On November 4, 2010, the Crown Attorney's Office dropped charges of mischief and forcible entry against nine members and supporters of OCAP, though each person was offered and took part in the diversion system and made a small charitable donation.
The two other individuals involved in the protest (11 were arrested in total) Anne Abbott and Lenny Olin still facing trespass charges.
According to an OCAP press release: "Anne, is a member of OCAP who drives a wheelchair and uses a communication board via an assistant to express herself fully. Because the cops are ableist and lack respect for disabled people or any understanding of their issues, Anne and her assistant were dealt with separately from the rest of the delegation to the Liberal offices. They were given summonses to appear on trespass charges and, at this point, are still facing a trial in January. If there a trace of shame or decency in the system (or even a desire to pretend here is), their charges will join the others in the garbage can."
Furthur, "The July 21 action at the Offices of the Liberal Party was part of OCAP's
fight to challenge the McGuinty Government's elimination of the Special Diet and their decision to consign those living on sub poverty welfare payments to even greater poverty. On that day, no one engaged in any 'forcible entry' or terrified office staff, as the Crown implied, but that's not really the point because our real 'crime' was to resist poverty. When the G20 leaders or the McGuinty Liberals get together to discuss how to impose their austerity measures on people, they are not just within the Law but are actually protected by lines of cops. When poor people organize to challenge their plans and build social resistance to it, however, they are breaching the 'peace' and challenging 'the Rule
One Month of Love for OCAP
November 2010 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty. November will be a 'Month of Love' for OCAP - we invite you to be
part of making OCAP's 20th Anniversary the celebration that it should be,
and of ensuring that our work continues in the months and years to come.
OCAP's 20th Anniversary Party:
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010
Cecil Street Community Centre - 58 Cecil Street, Toronto
6:30 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Sliding scale - $0 to $100
Other ways to support the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty:
--Become an OCAP Sustainer: OCAP does not receive government funds or
large grants -- we rely on donations from progressive individuals and
unions. We have three full time organizers, a downtown office, and a very
modest budget where we only manage to scrape by. You can become a
sustainer who makes a donation each month and helps us keep doing the
casework and organizing that we do. Visit: http://update.ocap.ca/sustain
--Join the Fightback: If you think you might be interested in the way we
fight back or would like to be involved in our organization, contact us.
As we face austerity around the world, the coming years will be integral
in fighting back against these measures. Be a part of that resistance in
"By creating a new political space for people left voiceless by our political system, OCAP has consistently been a thorn in the side of the powerful and a ray of hope for the marginal. Over the past 20 years of neoliberal onslaught, OCAP has been on the front lines of resistance, with its unique combination of unrelenting truth telling, community advocacy and direct action. As we head into a new era of brutal "austerity" measures, we are going to need OCAP's courage more than ever. Please join me in helping OCAP to gather all the resources it needs for the battles ahead." -Naomi Klein, journalist and author
"OCAP courageously and consistently stands up for the rights of poor people. They have faced attacks from government, police and courts but never back down. I support OCAP and I hope you will too." -Judy Rebick, journalist and political activist
"For those of us involved in the struggle for justice and equity, OCAP has and thankfully will no doubt continue to remind us all that we need to fight to win!" - Kelly O'Sullivan, labour activist.
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