Tag Archives: Protests

Burnaby won’t cover policing costs related to Trans Mountain protests

An RCMP officer reads a court order to Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, right, and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, second from right, before they were arrested after joining protesters outside Kinder Morgan’s facility in Burnaby, B.C., on March 23, 2018.

The City of Burnaby, where protests and arrests have been taking place over work under way to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, has ruled out paying policing costs related to managing the activism, says its mayor.

Like many B.C. communities, Burnaby is policed by the RCMP, and is normally on the hook for expenses, but Mayor Derek Corrigan – a vocal critic of the pipeline project – says he is drawing the line at overtime and other RCMP costs related to Trans Mountain as a project the city opposes.

“We’re not paying for the additional policing costs that are being accumulated as a result of the protests at the Trans Mountain project,” Mr. Corrigan said in an interview. “I don’t think there is anybody in the Western world who doesn’t know now that Burnaby is not paying.”

He casts the position as a reflection of Burnaby’s opposition to the project as well as the view that the Trudeau government, which approved the project, should be picking up the costs to deal with protests against it.

This isn’t the first time the issue has come up. The B.C. government says there is an outstanding $800,000 bill for policing 2014 protests related to the project that “remains in dispute,” according to a statement from the provincial Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor-General.

“The province is aware of Burnaby’s views on paying for these policing matters and we confirm there is an outstanding non-payment with respect to 2014,” said the provincial statement issued by Colin Hynes for the Ministry of Public Safety.

In their statement, the provincial public safety and Solicitor-General’s ministry said the Police Act in B.C. compels municipalities with populations over 15,000 to pay for the cost of policing within their boundaries. “This includes the cost of policing matters related to civil disobedience.”

However, the ministry said the dispute will not affect policing. “It is important to note that regardless of any disagreement over funding, policing services will continue uninterrupted and will be unaffected by any funding disagreement.”

Ironically, British Columbia’s NDP government has been sharply opposed to the expansion of the pipeline – a policy that has pitted them against the NDP government in Alberta, which is a proponent for the project.

Mr. Corrigan’s stand comes amidst increasing protests over the project. According to the Burnaby RCMP, 54 demonstrators against the project were arrested on Saturday for breaching a court-ordered injunction that prohibits protesters from coming within five metres of a pair of terminals in Burnaby operated by project proponent Kinder Morgan. Last Friday, federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart were arrested in protests.

The Trans Mountain expansion project, which has been approved by the federal government, will triple the capacity of the pipeline to about 900,000 barrels from 300,000. In recent weeks, one protest drew more than 5,000 people – and a police presence to manage the gathering.

Ali Hounsell, a spokesperson for the Trans Mountain project, said in a statement issued Sunday that “Trans Mountain’s view is that policing is a local government cost. “

Mr. Corrigan said the Mounties have told him they may take the matter to dispute resolution. While he said he has no details on that process, an RCMP spokesperson in B.C. pointed out there are provisions for working through disputes in the service agreement on municipal policing in B.C.

The mayor also said he is skeptical about RCMP assurances that dealing with the protests won’t distract from routine policing needs in Burnaby.

“They’re telling me, no, they are not diminishing any of the resources that are available to the community. But I can’t help but think this takes a toll in being able to deal with these issues,” Mr. Corrigan said. “While I am being assured that it is now, I am suspicious that it is.”

In a series of e-mail responses to Globe and Mail questions on the issue, a spokesperson for the RCMP E-Division covering B.C. said the force is dealing with protests now and looking to eventually deal with costs.

“The RCMP goal for any demonstrations is to ensure that they take place in a peaceful, lawful and safe manner. We will deploy the resources necessary to accomplish this,” Sergeant Janelle Shoihet said in an e-mail.

Sgt. Shoihet said the Burnaby RCMP don’t have contingency funds for their responsibilities but, rather, respond to calls for service and rolls salaries, expenses and other costs into an annual policing budget for the detachment.

“As you can imagine, it’s difficult to predict how many calls for service we’ll get in relation to one specific event or a series of events and therefore difficult to predict how many resources we’ll need to respond.”

Mr. Corrigan said the protests against Trans Mountain are going to get worse.

“This is the overture to what ‘s going to happen later on. I anticipate there will only be an escalation of the protests over the next months. This problem is only going to become progressively worse.”

The Globe and Mail 

[SOURCE]

How Black Bloc Activists Have Changed Protests

A Black Bloc protester throws a chair during an anti-racism demonstration, in Quebec City on Sunday, August 20, 2017. (CP/Jacques Boissinot)

The images were striking: massive blockades, protesters donning masks and black hoods suddenly racing across streets, throwing stones and destroying cars.

Such were the chaotic scenes during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany this July. Amid the looting, clashes with police and general frenzy, slogans were also emblazoned on walls offering “Free hugs for Black Blocs.”

What are the Black Blocs? And why are they associated with the G20 violence?

The Black Bloc is an anti-establishment protest tactic featuring demonstrators dressed entirely in black and concealing their identities.

Black Blocs are often demonized by the media and held as solely responsible for the chaos at major summits, even though many of the rioters lack the traditional Black Bloc garb.

After the G20, Der Spiegel published an article condemning “black-masked rioters” whose “sole purpose was to sow violence,” comparing them unfavourably with people conducting “real political protest” which it argued was now “more important than ever.”

That’s similar to the condemnation of the so-called anti-globalist movements.

Behind the mask

Embodying “new anarchy” principles, Black Blocs operate without hierarchy. They are temporary groups formed for a specific protest. Black Blocs do not exist before and after a given event.

The tactic of forming Black Blocs first appeared around 1980 in West Germany. It arose from the counter-culture movement in which people lived in squats, trying to emancipate themselves from the dual influence of government and capitalism. These “Autonomen” (autonomous people) marched against nuclear power and neo-Nazis.

They formed Black Blocs during demonstrations in order to ward off the threat of eviction from their squats, including Hamburg’s notorious Hafenstra├ƒe squat. To this day, the Berlin anti-capitalist May Day protest still includes a significant Black Bloc presence.

The tactic spread through activist networks and punk music, reaching the United States and Canada in the early 1990s.

The Battle of Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) Summit, which received wide media coverage, was a turning point in the dissemination of Black Bloc ideology.

Since then, the tactic has been taken up by the anti-austerity movement, the student movement (notably in France, Italy and Quebec), and such non-Western countries as Brazil and Egypt.

Black Blocs are also active in anti-police demonstrations.

Due to their particular aesthetic, Black Bloc tactics are easily duplicated once they’ve been observed, like in so-called “riot porn” videos, for instance.

Yet they vary from place to place. In Germany, Black Blocs often march with banners on all sides, as protesters walk arm-in-arm. Elsewhere, individual black-clad protesters appear throughout the march or form smaller groups. Supporting groups may tag along, such as activist brass bands or street medics.

In terms of demographic makeup (class, gender, race), Black Blocs differ over time and from place to place. Black Bloc protesters might be anarchists, Communists, environmentalists, feminists, queer activists, disillusioned social democrats, students, people unemployed or holding down odd jobs. In any case, according to a Black Bloc slogan: “Who we are is less important than what we want. And we want everything, for everyone.”

The Black Bloc has become a beacon for rebellion, the object of a certain revolutionary romanticism. For many, being part of a Black Bloc is proof of their radical convictions; others see it as a display of masculinity, tinged with misogyny.

In fact, women tend to prefer to form small single-sex Black Blocs, ensuring greater solidarity among themselves.

Black Blocs and the media

One of the arguments used to discredit Black Blocs is that they get media attention at the expense of non-violent protest. Yet experts in the sociology of communication have observed that the peaceful protests are often overlooked by journalists, who rarely report their demands.

And so the media obsession with Black Blocs apparently benefits all the protest movements. It’s also important to remember the results of a 2010 study on the media fallout of the 1999 Seattle Black Bloc: The overexposure of “anarchists” led to a substantial increase in visits to websites associated with anarchy (Indymedia, Infoshop, etc.)

In Brazil in 2013, hundreds of thousands of people visited the Facebook pages of local Black Blocs.

Black Blocs also publish news releases on independent media, explaining their causes and choice of targets — for example, multinationals exploiting workers and polluting the Earth, banks making profits off our collective debt, police protecting the political elite and private companies, etc.

But for those already familiar with anarchy politics, words are unnecessary: the target is the message. Black Blocs are a byproduct of the “age of riots,” characterized by a crisis of political legitimacy, austerity, and increasingly militarized police forces. In this context, riots are the language of the unheard, to use the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

What violence?

Some security experts and scholars (those specializing in the Years of Lead in Italy, for example) have suggested that Black Bloc tactics are a gateway to terrorism and polemicists have conflated them with Islamic terrorism.

Yet the anarchist movement long ago renounced the idea of armed struggle, with the apparent exception of the Fire Nuclei in Greece (several members of which are currently in prison) and a clandestine network in Italy.

Furthermore, Black Bloc activists do not share Islamist values. Some even joined Kurdish forces in fighting the Islamic State.

As for Black Bloc violence, from a historical and political sociology standpoint, it is extremely limited and Black Bloc do not peddle in extreme violence used, for instance, in the 1970s by far-left groups. It has even been called “symbolic” by some academics.

Its goal is to desecrate the symbols of capitalism (the windows of banks and multinational clothing or fast food companies, to name some examples) and to defend protesters against potential police violence. Yet in some cases, some participants throw objects at police (rocks, bottles, fireworks and, on rare occasions, Molotov cocktails).

Although the issue of Black Bloc “violence” generates much heated discussion, increasing solidarity with Black Blocs is being observed within social movements.

The teachers’ union in Brazil extended an invitation to Black Bloc protesters when demonstrating, as did Indigenous groups during protests against the Olympic Games on “stolen land” in Vancouver in 2010. Hundreds of people protested alongside the Black Blocs in the French demonstrations against a revised labour law in 2016.

Activists today often uphold the principle of “varied tactics,” which was formally laid down in 2000 by Montreal’s Convergence des luttes anticapitalistes (CLAC).

“The Black Bloc is dead,” anarchists declared a decade ago in the post-9-11 era of police repression.

That was premature. The Black Bloc is still very much alive and well, and continues to spread from protest to protest and from continent to continent.

By Francis Dupuis-Deri, The Canadian Press

[SOURCE]

Colombia’s Riot Police Sent Back to School to Learn About Human Rights

written by Adriaan Alsema, June 16, 2017

Members of Colombia’s feared ESMAD riot unit must take compulsory courses in human rights, the country’s State Council ordered while convicting the unit for killing a student during a protest.

The ESMAD unit is one of Colombia’s most feared and loathed police units, because of recurring reports of police brutality and excessive violence in the curbing of social protest.

In the last month alone, the unit was accused of throwing teargas into people’s homes and aiming at protesters’ bodies when western Colombia rose up and protested peacefully to demand an end to chronic state neglect and violence.

In Bogota, the unit used teargas and water cannons to break up a month-long peaceful protest of teachers demanding structural investment in the country’s substandard education system.

In the ruling condemning the execution of a student protester in Cali in 2005, the National Government was ordered to submit each of the country’s riot police units to compulsory schooling on human rights, after reminding authorities that public manifestations are Colombians’ constitutional right.


The mere taking part in a civilian protest does not represent a transgression of legal order since the inhabitants [of Colombia] have the right to express their dissent to measures adopted by state authorities.

Council of State

The court also urged the Prosecutor General’s Office to re-open the homicide investigation that was closed before going to court, but is now investigated by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States.


The damage that result from this kind of reproachable behavior must be known, judged and repaired before civilian justice, before submitting the victims of the armed conflict to the wearisome burden of demanding a conviction in international courts., in addition to the fact that this circumstance leaves the Colombian justice system ill-served and is portrayed before the international community as an instance lacking efficiency, suitability and social legitimacy.

Council of State

Colombia’s Congress last year debated a proposal to disband the controversial unit, but the bill never made it to the final vote.

Colombia Reports

[SOURCE]

Standing Rock and the Battle Beyond

An insight into the battle for Native American land rights as protests continue against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Staff |  Dec 27, 2016

For months, Native Americans have been protesting against the Dakota Access oil pipeline, a multibillion-dollar construction project that tribal leaders say is threatening sacred sites, as well as the tribe’s source of drinking water.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says the federal government failed to properly consult with them before issuing permits for the pipeline.

All the women and children were along the line crying, they had just gone through pepper spraying everybody… people then started pushing as the [attack] dogs were coming. – Ladonna Brave Bull Allard, founder, Sacred Stone Camp

Protests against the project have been growing since April and began when a handful of people set up camp, just south of the proposed pipeline on the land of Ladonna Brave Bull Allard.

When the Army Corps approved the first major permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Allard received a 48-hour heads up, warning her of work commencing on the pipeline. It was then that the Sioux took the Army Corps to federal court – Allard called in for reinforcements using a social media video, calling people to stand with the cause.

Since then, thousands of people, including tribes across the US, have joined historic demonstrations in support of the Sioux.

In December, the Obama administration handed them a victory, denying a final permit the company needed and saying different routes for the pipeline would be sought.

But the election of Donald Trump has cast doubt on that decision, and the company in charge of constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline says it isn’t backing down.

Fault Lines examines the case against the pipeline, connecting it to other fights being waged by US tribes that have helped build the growing movement at Standing Rock.

Editor’s note: We have used archive footage in this Fault Lines episode from Democracy Now! and Unicorn Riot.

Source: Al Jazeera

US Army Corps: Those Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline Will Not Be Forcibly Removed

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Protesters block a highway during a protest in Mandan against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, North Dakota, U.S. November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Army Corps seeking peaceful transition to free speech zone

By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 28, 2016

Water protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota vowed Saturday to remain in their camp after the US Army Corps of Engineers told them to leave the federal land they’ve occupied.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday, Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered a mandatory evacuation of protesters seeking to block construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, but both the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they have no plans for “forcible removal” of the protesters.

The Army Corps provided an update Sunday, on their plans to close off their land involved in protests against the Energy Transfer Partners LP, pipeline project.

According to Aljazeera, the Army Corps which manages the government land where the main camp protesting the Dakota Access pipeline is located, said last week it would close public access to the area on Dec 5.

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On Sunday, the Army Corps said it had no plans to “forcibly remove” anyone who remains, though a statement said that to do so was risky. The statement said anyone who remained would be considered unauthorized and could be subject to various citations.

Although the order said people who defy it could face legal consequences, officials said Monday the state also would not seek to forcibly remove people.

Citing increased violence between water protectors and law enforcement and the increasingly harsh winter conditions, on Friday the Army Corps said it decided to close its land to the protesters who have been there since early April.

The Corps, has established a free speech zone on land south of the Cannonball River and is seeking a peaceful and orderly transition to the safer location.

This transition is also necessary to protect the general public from the dangerous confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement officials which have occurred near this area. “Unfortunately, it is apparent that more dangerous groups have joined this protest and are provoking conflict in spite of the public pleas from Tribal leaders. We are working to transition those engaged in peaceful protest from this area and enable law enforcement authorities to address violent or illegal acts as appropriate to protect public safety,” said Omaha District Commander, Col. John Henderson.

Free Speech Area. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Free Speech Area. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

The Army Corps, asked the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, in a letter to tell members of his tribe, along with supporters there, to move to a free speech zone, — which is slightly more than 41 acres and provides clearer jurisdiction for police, fire and medical units.

MPR News reports, Oceti Sakowin is on federal land, but according to treaties cited by tribal leaders, the land and the rivers belonged to the Sioux Tribe.

Archambault II and other protest organizers made it clear that they planned to stay in the Oceti Sakowin camp — one of three camps near the pipeline construction site.

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Nick Tilsen with the Indigenous Peoples Power Project, pictured here on Nov. 26, 2016, says Native Americans are not going to move out of Oceti Sakowin Camp “unless it’s on our own terms because this is our treaty land.” Doualy Xaykaothao | MPR News

As news of the Army Corps’ intention to shut down the camp spread over the weekend, people like environmental activist Nick Tilsen expressed renewed resolve.

“Indigenous people are here to stay,” he said.

Tribal elders call the Standing Rock protest movement a spiritual war and rebirth for Native Americans everywhere.

An Oglala Sioux member from South Dakota, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “We have every right to be here to protect our land and to protect our water.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, believe the Dakota Access pipeline could contaminate their water source, the Missouri River, and desecrate the tribe’s sacred sites.