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Jack Layton has Obama/Rae Syndrome

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Below is the text of an email I just sent to the Federal New Democratic Party of Canada in response to this statement by the party:

Statement on the vandalism in downtown Toronto by NDP Leader Jack Layton
Sun 27 Jun 2010

New Democrats tonight add their voices to all those calling for an end to the violence and vandalism taking place in downtown Toronto.

Peaceful and lawful protests are important in a democracy and help raise important issues. Torontonians have often marched and protested peacefully on these streets, with virtually no serious incidents.

And then I wrote:

I am currently living in the U.S. but am a Canadian citizen and when I live in Canada I am a New Democrat. At one time I was active at the riding, provincial/territorial and federal levels. I was a federal councilor for the Yukon 1n the 1980’s and a provincial candidate for the NDP in the 1990 Ontario election.

From where I sit, it looks as though the NDP is making a horrible mistake by not condemning the police violence in Toronto as well as the vandalism caused by a small number of protesters. Actually, given that the police have used agents provocateurs in the past, perhaps we should be careful when talking about who did what in the streets.

Perhaps public opinion can’t yet see the police violence or the fact that almost all of the demonstrators were peaceful. But the truth will out.

Remember how Tommy Douglas and the NDP opposed the War Measures Act in the face of public opinion and media criticism. What does Canada think of Tommy Douglas now?

The NDP should be very wary of making the same mistakes Bob Rae made when he alienated his base, as Barack Obama is doing now. Many NDP supporters are horrified by the actions of the police as well as the vandalism. Oh and by the way, breaking a window is wrong but it is worse to break a peaceful demonstrators head.

No matter the short term cost, do the right thing and political rewards will one day follow.

Written by slothropia

June 28th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Toronto Cops Wait for End of O Canada to Charge Protesters and Shoppers

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I guess they didn’t want to interrupt Canada’s national anthem.

This occurred at the intersection of Queen Street and Spadina Avenue, a popular shopping, restaurant and entertainment area. My understanding is shoppers were caught with the protesters.

Written by slothropia

June 27th, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Toronto Cops Following Miami Model

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Thanks to a poster on Babble who alerted me to this piece by columnist Catherin Porter in the Toronto Star. It’s all about the script that Toronto cops are following this weekend. It is a plan that is often followed in the United States at political conventions for example. Here are the main elements:

Information warfare. This starts weeks before the event. Protesters are criminalized and dehumanized, and described as dangerous “anarchists” and “terrorists” the city needs to defend against.

“Often, a faux cache is found,” says Archer. “They are usually ordinary objects, like bike inner tubes, camping equipment, but the police make them out to look threatening. It lays the groundwork for police to be violent and it means there’s a reduced accountability of law enforcement.”

Intimidation. Police start random searches of perceived protesters before any large rallies. They are asked where they are staying, why they are walking around. Police raid organizer’s homes or meeting places, “usually just before the summit, so there’s maximum chaos organizers have to deal with,” says Archer.

“All this is meant to dissuade participants. The best way to make sure you don’t have a critical mass of people taking over the streets like in Seattle is to reduce the numbers at the outset.”

This is usually made possible by last-minute city regulations, curtailing the right to protest. In Miami, the city commission passed a temporary ordinance forbidding groups of more than seven to congregate for more than 30 minutes without a permit.

“They threw rocks.” That’s the line police use after tear-gassing or beating protesters most times, Archer says. Urine and human feces are variations on the theme. But it’s always the protesters who triggered the violence. A popular police tactic is called “kettling.” Officers on bike or horses herd protesters into an enclosed space, so they can’t leave without trying to break through the police line. Take the bait; you provoke a beating or arrest. And of course, there are the famous agent provocateurs, outted publicly two years ago in Montebello. Police officers dressed up like militant protesters to protect the peaceful crowd, they say; Archer says it’s to instigate trouble.

In Montebello, one of the three cops dressed in black was holding a rock.

“It’s the same lies every single protest,” she says. “It’s justification by law enforcement for their violent actions. This is a propaganda war.”

Job well done. At the end, regardless of the bodies clogging the temporary holding cells and hospitals, the police always congratulate themselves. And by the time the cases go to court, the story is long forgotten and the circus has moved to a new unsuspecting town.

More than 270 people were arrested in Miami during the summit seven years ago . How many were convicted, in the end? I called the American Civil Liberties Union to find out.

“None,” said lawyer Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, who was the president of the Miami chapter back then.

Written by slothropia

June 27th, 2010 at 7:24 pm