Appeal from Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at tao.ca
Tue Feb 19 00:41:07 MST 2002


----- Original Message -----
From: John Clarke
To: David McNally
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2002 10:27 AM
Subject: Allies


DOZENS FACE JAIL AS 'QUEEN'S PARK RIOT' CASES GO TO TRIAL

An International Appeal for Solidarity from the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty (OCAP)

On June 15, 2000, OCAP organized a March to the Ontario Legislature to
demand action by the Conservative Government to deal with a crisis of
homelessness that was (and still is) claiming hundreds of lives in Canada's
largest province. We called for the Legislature to receive and hear from a
delegation from our organization. The response was a brutal police attack that
led to dozens of serious injuries. Yet the homeless and their allies resisted on
that day with a determination that scared and angered the authorities. In
the weeks that followed, dozens of arrests were made in an attempt to destroy
OCAP. This was totally unsuccessful as support poured in and the level of
resistance we were able to organize increased dramatically. Now, the trials of
the June 15 defendants are underway. One homeless man, charged with damaging the
pathway through the Legislative grounds, has already been given a one hundred
and ten day sentence and the Prosecutor stated that this was the least serious
matter that he will be dealing with. Between now and May, over thirty women and
men will go to trial and, clearly, face serious jail terms.

Later this year, three OCAP activists deemed to be principal organizers of
the action will answer to charges of 'participating in a riot' and 'counselling
to participate in a riot' before a jury. If convicted, they face jail terms of
over two years each. The use of such antiquated and reactionary laws are a
serious attack that threatens to make the very call for militant action a
crime. OCAP will not be organizing any cringing defence. We will state
openly that we went to the Legislature to demand the right to be heard and with
every intention of exercising that right. If a 'riot' took place on that day,
however, primary responsibility for it lies with the Government of Ontario,
whose brutal policies and arrogant refusal to respond to the grievances of
the homeless set the stage for confrontation. Blame also lies at the door of the
police who chose to attack and disperse the crowd with such extreme
violence.

We will go to court not just to defend ourselves but to accuse and condemn
those who created the so called 'Queen's Park Riot'. It will be of huge
help, as we build momentum for the political struggle that surrounds the trials,
if we can point to wide support across Canada and internationally. Our struggle
in Ontario is only the local expression of a global movement of resistance to a
neo liberal agenda that would remove all barriers to the making of profit
regardless of the human cost. On that basis, we would like to appeal to working
class and progressive organizations everywhere to send us messages of solidarity
that we can post on our web site at www.ocap.ca. Please feel free to include
updates on your own struggles and any appeals for support that relate to them.
With this initiative, we hope to build up an
international sense of an injury to one being an injury to all and a
readiness to come to each others support as we face our respective local
representatives of a common enemy. We thank you in advance for all
expressions of solidarity. We will continue to send out updates on this struggle
and, more than anything, promise that the legal attack we are under, whatever
its immediate results, will not divert us from building a movement that fights
to win.

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

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Macdonald Stainsby
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In the contradiction lies the hope.
                                     --Bertholt Brecht



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