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G20 Resistance. Why Now? Why Act? Let me explain.

This is a note I published on facebook on June 8th.

I would like to tell you why I am going to the G20 convergence as a concerned community member (going as a street medic and political poet), and why I think you should get involved in some way or another, and how I am navigating the overwhelming amount of information and disinformation out there. It is admittedly framed from my personal experience and my political stances. Please take the time to critically read this, share, and comment. I think it is really important.

First, a list of ways you can get involved:
– be a street medic. training is available.
– be a sexual assault support volunteer. training is available.
– help the Toronto independent media coop as a photographer, videographer, blogger, journalist, web assistant
– help at the convergence centre for activists as a cook, child care volunteer, welcoming committee, general volunteer
– attend any of the events coordinated by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN), add numbers to a march
– if you have sleeping space in Toronto, the TCMN is organizing billeting for out of towners
– Tell your friends about the G20 and why people are protesting
– Artists and performers! There are many opportunities to perform at the block party, poetry night, marches.

CONTACT ME if you want more information and I will send you in the right direction.

In my community, there have been a lot of ideas, opinions, and plans thrown around for the G20 convergence happening in Toronto the weekend of June 25-27. The People’s Summit is happening in Toronto at Ryerson the weekend before (18th-20), and then there are days of resistance and action coordinated by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network starting on the Monday 21st until the 27th.

There is A LOT of information being thrown around right now. We are being bombarded by articles from the corporate media (The Star, The Globe and Mail, etc), all of the activist groups organizing, and also from people in your community. There is talk about the massive police mobilization, the protestors, the leaders and their policies, the resistance movement – probably enough to be super overwhelming and inclining many people to want to turn a blind eye to the whole thing.

Understandable.

But please, I, I dunno, I implore you! Don’t turn to apathy, or exasperation, or laziness. We, as people of privilege living in a state that prospers through the exploitation of poorer states, really need to be the ones voicing our concerns, and yes, voicing our dissent through PUBLIC demonstration.

In our supposedly democratic state, how do we as citizens participate? By voting? Well, arguably our first past the post voting system is completely undemocratic and elections are not everday. By speaking to our political representatives? Sending them letters? Petitions? How many times have you been able to get a hold of your riding’s member of parliament of member of provincial parliament?

Our political system delegates representatives to act on our behalf. It is our duty then to make known what it is the people want. Invisible forms of participation like letters are not enough. We need to publicly demonstrate that their is dissent. That is why an event like the G20 is an OPPORTUNE moment to show that there is a mass movement of people who want change. Because there is such a media focus on Toronto right now, “the whole world is watching”, and we the people who are local to this event, need to take advantage of this moment and show the leaders and the world that we want change. This is an international event, but to us, it’s LOCAL. Toronto is right there, let’s go.

Think about it this way. If the G20 happened and no one blinked an eye, no one hit the streets, nothing would change. When the G20 happens and thousands of people voice their concerns, the leaders will realize they do not have unanimous support and the rest of the world that is getting screwed over by capitalism, etc, will be reassured to know that the movement for change is alive and well.

We will not just let the leaders of the world’s richest countries waltz into Toronto, shut down the downtown core, spend over a billion dollars on security, put a fence between the people and the leaders who are supposed to represent them, have meetings about issues that concern the entire world behind closed doors, and have the police, the military, the RCMP and privately hired security to attack civilians for voicing dissent. No, we will not do nothing. We are organizing. Groups of concerned people from Vancouver to Halifax are coming to Toronto to take action. Talk, discussion and understanding the issues is the first step, but action needs to follow.

Some people tell me they don’t want to be anti this or anti that, or resisting, or dissenting. They want to be pro-peace, pro-community, etc. To quote Laura McD, we are anti-war because we are pro-peace. We need to first acknowledge that there is a problem before we move to the solution. Maybe negative language is discouraging, but I want to make it clear that the world’s systems of oppression need to be dismantled.

Do not let the media confuse you. The activists, organizers, and protest groups coming in from all over this state are not simply shit-disturbers. They are not just getting together to riot, or alter corporate property, or protest in a self-masturbatory way. These people EVERY DAY are building the communities they want through local initiatives. And it is not protesters versus the police as the media frames it. It is the PEOPLE confronting our political leaders, who are promptly hiding behind fences and ignoring us.

What I see as the most exciting thing the G20 is doing, is that activists from across Ontario and beyond are converging, meeting, sharing ideas, and inspiring each other. This is SUPER COOL! For this fact alone you should come to Toronto! Indigenous rights activists, feminists, anarchists, pacifists, workers, radical cheerleaders, poets – they’re all gathering. Again, this is SUPER COOL! Just at the couple of meetings in Toronto I’ve been to, I’ve met so many incredible people who are creating positive change in their communities. It is so reaffirming to meet people who care about the same things as you and are striving for social justice and peace.

I would like to address tactics. The tactics of the state and the tactics of the activists.

The state’s main tactic is fear to suppress dissent. Demonstrating the police weaponry to the press and making public images that remind you of warfare is a tactic of the state to create fear. Anyone who was slightly hesitant about hitting the streets who sees pictures of the lines of police is going to be deterred from coming. This is a way of deterring dissent and making the numbers of protesters smaller. If you are seriously worried about potentially getting hurt, go to the lower risk actions, or help at the convergence centre, or have conversations with people you know about the G20. You do not necessarily have to be on the frontlines of a protest to participate.

(Personally, I’m okay with potentially getting injured. People in exploited countries all over the world have it way worse, every single day. I can handle some scrapes or bruises. I just don’t want to get majorly injured that I can’t continue participating.)

The tactics of the activists is a diversity of tactics. This means that we acknowledge that people have differing tactics, and we respect them all because we need a multi-pronged approach to change. We do not waste time in the movement arguing about tactics. We have better things to do.

Briefly, I want to address the issue of non-violence. There is a grave misunderstanding that those people who are willing to have altercations with the police or alter corporate property are ignorant shit-disturbers. On the flip side, pacifists are seen as idealists who are making the state’s job easier. I see that both sides villainize the other without having first asked why they choose those tactics. Ignorant judgments get us nowhere. We all want the same thing! In my opinion, any kind of dogmatic practice is going to be problematic and truly, most people are not hardcore always violence raw raw or always peaceful kumbaya. Creating the issue into a dichotomy of violence /non-violence is problematic because that dichotomy does not exist. And again, the point is that we respect a diversity of tactics. So let’s do that, and move on.

Ok. This is getting long. Let me tell you what my main tactic is.

Art. I find that art reaches out to people, makes connections and creates community easily. It also inspires people, and it is easy to get tired. Antagonism is not my favourite way to build community. I don’t think a poem will solve global injustice, but I think a poem can convey ideas and emotions that stir people to think differently or act differently. It is a small step just like everything else, and it is my main way of contributing.

I am organizing a poetry night on the Saturday the 27th in Toronto and I need poets and people to come. I still am finding a venue. I could use help. Talk to me.

I still have lots to share on
– How to protect yourself from the police weapons like sound cannons, pepper-spray/tear gas, and how to treat injuries from these weapons.
– Local Kitchener-Waterloo community building initiatives and what people are doing everyday locally.

So, yeah talk to me.

It’s hard to fit everything I want to say into this. Please ask questions. Let’s have conversations. I realize publishing this is a risk, on the very public facebook. But I figure the cops have a file on me already anyway. I’ll risk it.

Anyway, I am stoked for the G20 convergence. I think a lot of good things will come out of it to continue on. I think working together with people will inspire me further and reaffirm that we are on our way.

Understand? Disagree? Ready, set, discuss. ACT.

Love,
Janice.

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Further links:

Toronto Community Mobilization Network http://g20.torontomobilize.org/
The TCMN is the coordinating body of all of the actions. It is separate from the People’s Summit. The website has links to all the ways of getting involved. And news.

The People’s Summit http://peoplessummit2010.ca/section/2
A conference, civil society’s alternative “counter Summit” happening the weekend before the G20

Toronto Media Coop http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/
This website is constantly updated with new information, not owned and controlled by the corporate media. If you want to contribute, contact them.

Kitchener-Waterloo People’s Summit http://2010resistance.ca/
The KW People’s Summit is a series of panels, workshops, events locally organized in the lead up to the G20.