BEYOND THE G20: Opposing All Forms of Police Repression

1,100 people were ultimately arrested, often violently. The majority
of arrestees were held in make-shift cages without access to lawyers,
medical care, or adequate food and water. Most were not charged with
any crime, and 59% of those who were charged have seen those charges
withdrawn.

Women were subjected to sexual harassment, queers and disabled people
were assaulted. People were targeted for intimidation and arrest
because they spoke French, were from racialized communities, or
"looked like activists" or wore black.

And then, just two weeks ago, another mass gathering took place, which
erupted in rioting. Thousands of people took to the streets after the
Stanley Cup loss by the Vancouver Canucks, and a night of property
destruction, burning cars, looting and physical violence ensued.

Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Constable Jana McGuiness
unintentionally highlighted the differing police tactics when she
explained the VPD's approach. She told the media "you don't want to
punish the whole group for the actions of a few."

But when the "actions of a few" are a form of political
protest - against cuts to social services, against ever-increasing
corporate power, against environmental destruction, and against the
ongoing colonization of Aboriginal land - then mass repression,
collective punishment and rampant violations of civil liberties is
exactly what happens.

Wearing our political stripes on our sleeves is far riskier in Canada
than wearing a hockey jersey, and the reasons we take to the streets
seems to determine the police's response far more than our actions.
And it's not just any political message that attracts such treatment.
It is specifically those social justice movements from the left, and
organizing by oppressed communities, that face the brunt of state
repression.

So yes, police repression during the G20 was extreme. But it is not
unprecedented.

Calling police action during the G20 "heavy-handed," or an
over-reaction to the protests, is misleading. Seeing police violence
during the G20 as a one-off, isolated event during which "the public"
lost its trust in police, is a mistake.

Looking beyond the media spotlight, incidents of police violence are
systemic, not isolated.

When over 1000, mostly white, mostly young, mostly middle class people
are assaulted and arrested by police officers on the lawn of Queen's
Park, it's a big deal. Screaming newspaper headlines reveal how police
officers who break the law and beat up those they've detained usually
get away with a slap on the wrist if that.

But when those same officers assault people at night, in alleyways,
and in interview rooms - people who disproportionately come from
racialized and low-income communities - it rarely makes the news. And in
those cases, even a slap on the wrist is hard to come by.

In two years time, on the second anniversary of one of the largest
mass-arrests in Canadian history, we hope to celebrate justice for all
victims of police abuse.

Making this hope a reality will take dedication, creativity, and
courage. It will require building a social movement that is powerful
and organized enough to win justice. Our mobilization will inevitably
face repression from the State. The Movement Defence Committee will do
all we can to support these movements going forward.

In solidarity,

The Movement Defence Committee

We encourage you to support the G20 Defendants, other victims of
police abuse and community-based social movements. Many people still
face charges from the G20. Some of the defendants are challenging
their draconian bail conditions, others are launching lawsuits against
the police. Community organizations are continuing to engage in
struggles against police violence and the G20 policies of austerity.

You can support G20 defendants by donating to the legal defence fund.
If you are facing charges from the G20 you can also apply to the fund
to help pay your legal costs. You can find information here:
http://g20legaldefencefund.wordpress.com/

You can find information on some current community-based organizations
and their campaigns here:
http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/june-2011-our-streets-are-still-fire/7580