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It Begins: Repression of “Anti-Petroleum Activists” and the Pan Am Games

On January 29 2015, a person in Hamilton who has been active in organizing against Line 9 and the Tar Sands opened their door to find a detective from the Hate Crimes and Extremism Unit of the Hamilton Police. This person is on bail from charges relating to the many blockades of Enbridge’s Line 9 construction sites. They were placed under arrest for breach of bail under a flimsy pretense. They were held overnight and released the next day under a stricter bail. Subsequent court appearances have made it clear that the Hate Crimes and Extremism Unit targetted this person as part of the security operation in the lead up to the Pan Am Games.

This is a simple and, in many ways, all too common story. Bail and probation conditions are routinely used by police to harass and intimidate people in Hamilton, usually broke people and people of colour. We seek to share the story of our friend’s arrest and some analysis around it not to arouse indignation about the police’s actions, but to inform our allies of the kinds of attacks we can expect in the leadup to the Pan Am games and to combat the fear this harassment can bring.

The Hate Crimes and Extremism Unit (HCEU) of the Hamilton Police Services (HPS) was formed over ten years ago in response to attacks on minority groups, however it quickly shifted to also being the political police of the HPS. In 2009, the HCEU released a report identifying police themselves as being the largest victim of hate crimes in Hamilton and that anarchist and anti-police activists were therefore the group most responsible for hate crimes. This was in conjunction with a similar shift in the RCMP and OPP extremism units in advance of the massive protests against the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2010 G20 summit, which was used to massively surveil, infiltrate, and disrupt our movements.

These maneuvers by police have their echo in a recent news story indicating that the RCMP now consider so-called “anti-petroleum activists” to be a leading security threat in Canada. A big chunk of the HPS’s latest budget increase will go towards intelligence gathering, with additional funding from the Pan Am committee and in co-ordination with other intelligence agencies.

The day before the HCEU detective set out to find our friend, he attended an intelligence meeting about threats to the Pan Am games, and evidently his first task was to seek out local “anti-petroleum activists” to harass. Our friend has no intention of organizing around the Pan Am games and, to our knowledge, neither do any of the other anarchist or anti-tar sands organizers in town – we are opposed to this stupid disply of nationalist arrogance, but were mostly planning on ignoring it. It is clear to us that police are opportunistically using the Pan Am games as cover to attack anti-tar sands and anarchist movements, and as with the G20, it is those already ‘known to police’ who are targetted first.

We share this story to resist the police’s attempt to isolate our friend and to frame their broader attack on our collective movements as a question of individual bail compliance. We want to combat fear with accurate information, so that we can intelligently adapt our organizing rather than react in fear. Although we might organize in different ways, this attack on our friend is also an attack on all those who challenge the dominant economic and political systems. Solidarity – let’s look out for each other and be prepared to act to defend each other. This kind of harassment is only going to continue as the Pan Am games approach.

Some practical considerations: Don’t talk to the police! If the cops show up at your door, ask if they have a warrant. If they don’t, you don’t even have to open the door for them. If they have an arrest warrant, only the person named has to respond and even then, only your name, date of birth, and address. Also, consider encrypting hard drives and USB keys, as these are frequently targetted during searches. With some simple precautions and a practice of solidarity, we can feel confident in our strength and resilience in the face of repression.

See reverse for a list of additional reading…

Additional reading:

-Countdown to Pan Am : http://www.thespec.com/news-story/5327723-countdown-to-pan-am/

-Anti-Petroleum movement a growing threat to Canada: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/anti-petroleum-movement-a-g…

-The Toronto G20 Main Conspiracy: https://www.indybay.org/uploads/2014/08/12/torontoconspiracy.pdf

-A legal guide for activists: http://movementdefence.org/node/10

 

 

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