Post G20 -- arrests, intimidation and ongoing resistance
Community Update by the Community Solidarity Network. Begin forwarded message:
This report has been a long time coming. Many people that spent the last year as the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, putting together the infrastructure for the Convergence have been arrested, beaten, and intimidated. Many of our most beloved and central organizers are under house arrest conditions while many others in the city have leaped forward to join the resistance.
A new organizing space, the Community Solidarity Network, has just been formed. We see ourselves as the central networking, trust-building and organizing hub for the post-G20 defence happening in different spheres across Toronto. Though our primary mandate is to ensure that all charges against everyone who opposed the G20 be dropped, we will be hosting open meetings shortly for everyone who is organizing various initiatives in the city.
We have established a legal defence fund that is independent, held in trust by a lawyer and overseen by seven highly respected trustees. All money raised at this time is being directed to this G20 Legal Defence Fund that will soon be accepting applications from anyone that requires money for defence. Money will be distributed based on 'need' and 'risk' as established by the G20 Legal Defence Fund's trustees.
At this time, we have only raised a fraction of funds required and encourage people facing charges to apply for Legal Aid and if possible to organize fundraisers and approach family members to donate to the fund. We ask the same for all allies as a tremendously large amount of money is presently required. However, the G20 Legal Defence Fund cannot promise that it will be able to cover everyone's full legal expenses.
If you are a defendant, please make sure that you have signed up on to our announcements list through http://g20.torontomobilize.org to receive timely updates and ways to apply to the Fund. Also, visit http://movementdefence.org/ to get options on other post-G20 legal defence.
If you are organizing support events or fundraisers, please see http://g20.torontomobilize.org/getinvolved. Details of transferring money can be found at http://g20.torontomobilize.org/support.
Since June 27, 2010, there have been five major demonstrations against police impunity and repression that have brought out approximately 8,000 people to the streets of Toronto. These protest were organized by ourselves as many other organizations in the city. The demands were an end to police violence, a public inquiry and freedom for our friends.
We now know that in between June 21-27, 2010, at least 1,100 people were held for long periods, either on the streets or in a makeshift jail that was built specifically for the purposes of housing people speaking out against the G8/G20 policies. Many thousands more were detained and questioned but we have no reliable way to ascertain exact numbers at this time. Of the 1,100 people actually held, we believe that at least 306 had charges laid against them.
Of these 306, it is our understanding that presently, at least four are still in prison, their bails either denied or they are awaiting bail hearings. Arrests continue to occur with the most recent that we know of taking place in Hamilton on the night of August 26th. Those in jail are Indigenous people, Indigenous solidarity activists, environmental justice activists and low-income people unable to put up large sums of money as bail.
304 people appeared in court on August 23, 2010. 104 of these people had their charges withdrawn or stayed or considered completed by the (in)justice system. Many people were coerced into paying sums of $50-$100 and were 'diverted' or were asked to turn in 'guilty' pleas.
Approximately 33 did so in the end. This was an obvious ploy to allow the police to save face and not explain why the ridiculous charges, long detentions and mental trauma had to take place in the first instance.
Many people were told to take the 'deal' or face further repression. Despite this coercion, dozens of people refused to take the 'deal' insisting that they would take their charges to trial to assert their ability to organize in the face of repression.
232 people (at least) continue to face ongoing prosecution and criminalization and will be returning to the courts in the months and years to follow.
Of these 232 people, plus the arrest on August 26th, it is our current understanding that at least 110 face conspiracy and counseling charges.
Conspiracy charges do not require authorities to prove that any so-called illegal activity even took place, only shared intent or encouragement of so-called illegal activity. The test for evidence is sufficiently lowered for conspiracy charges and is thus an easy way for the police and the courts to criminalize dissent and silence outspoken critics. This is one of the most worrisome tactics of the G20 'security' attack and the establishment of the Integerated Security Unit and must be loudly and publicly opposed.
Of the people facing conspiracy and/or counseling charges, two are presently in prison, while the courts and the prosecution are attempting to put two back in jail.
18 or so that face the gravest conspiracy charges have been released on extremely difficult bail conditions. Many are under house arrest, unable to use laptops, cell phones, internet, associate with loved ones or friends or join or organize public demonstrations.
We now know that many of the committees organizing logistical support as well as many meetings where public demonstrations were being planned in Toronto and across cities in Ontario and Quebec were infiltrated. Many dozens of organizers and activists were followed, questioned, harassed and intimidated. People were approached at their homes and workplaces, on dark street corners and on transit - all intended to create a sense of insecurity and tension in the lead up to a people's convergence against the G20 policies.
The police have continued to use the media to drum up fear. For the last five months, we have seen the images and statements released by the Police, by Minister Stockwell Day and others to ostracize people that struggle for justice and to scare people from taking to the streets. While over 40,000 people refused to be intimidated by this propaganda and acted together - the police, even in recent weeks, continue to hold press conferences to criminalize people while mainstream TV and newspapers gleefully cover images of burning police cars. Ridiculous claims of what happened in Toronto continue to be written and re-written that could not be further from the truth.
The truth is simple. The G8 and G20 process is one of exclusion and exploitation. It is a place for the rich of the world to gather to create the policies that suppress people of color, Indigenous people, women, queer communities, disabled communities and the environment. The G8 and G20 meetings resulted in a declaration of war against the people of the world.
Termed 'austerity measures' the governments of the world and their corporate puppet masters have vowed to cut people's access to healthcare, education, good jobs, decent living conditions, justice or dignity, instead choosing to bail out banks and large industries. This process impacts people across the globe, it attacks people on their streets and in their homes everyday. This process is opposed by all of us. The week of June 21-27, 2010 was not a series of protests; it was a series of declaration of the kinds of worlds we wish to live - worlds with justice, dignity, self-determination and mutual aid.
As the months pass, we are fighting to support our friends, our comrades and our allies in the pursuit of their freedom. We know that many of them are organizers and activists, some without full immigration status, and that it is our responsibility as a movement to ensure that police and state repression does not trample upon those that will act for real change.
Actions in solidarity have taken place across Turtle Island and across the globe. In particular, it has been heartening to see many organizations and coalitions that were absent in the mobilizations prior, stepping up to show solidarity. Many educationals and fundraisers have taken place to create awareness and money to support the legal fight that must ensue. We look forward to continued solidarity and salute the work of allies and friends that continue to fight for justice in their communities and for those abused by state violence in Toronto during the G20.
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