From Canadian Tire Fire
Communities across the country continued to face the threat of wildfires. First Nations communities continue to be most drastically impacted, with multiple remote communities in Manitoba, Northern Ontario, and BC being evacuated this week.
In a week where vulnerable people, especially Indigenous folks, were displaced on a wide scale by both environmental catastrophe and the criminalization of poverty, while simultaneously the richest man in the world shot himself into space (and sadly returned), the crisis of capitalism was truly stark.
We also want to give a shout-out to this week to the exciting return of a few anarchist projects. The Halifax Anarchist Bookfair announced they will be back for a fourth year on September 4. Proposals are due by August 4! As well, the excellent anarchist podcast From Embers has returned from hiatus, digging into Fairy Creek forest defense on their first episode back.
Encampment Evictions Continue in Toronto and Vancouver
This week saw a drastic escalation in encampment clearing tactics in Toronto. First on July 20, police cleared an encampment with 26 residents at Alexandra Park. Police repeated tactics used in previous encampment attacks and evictions, showing up in large numbers, fencing off the park, and destroying residents’ belongings and housing. They also arrested 9 people, 7 of whom were charged for trespassing.
However, nothing could prepare the city for the show of force the next day, at an encampment by Lamport Stadium. This encampment has been hotly contested, and was cleared at least once before, in May of this year. It is estimated that 14-17 people were living there.
The first City vehicles arrived before 5am. By 7am, a large collection of on-foot, bike, and mounted police, had amassed near the stadium. Support groups, who had been expecting action against the encampment, were present in small numbers as well, and quickly put out further calls for support.Again, police fenced off the area around the encampment, barring journalists or further supporters from entering. Those inside the fencing surrounded the encampment, linking arms and holding up makeshift barriers. Police responded with a stunning display of violence, shoving those gathered to the ground, using forceful arrest techniques, deploying pepper spray, and ultimately sending multiple people to the hospital with injuries ranging from concussions to broken bones. 31 people were arrested, including encampment residents, supporters, journalists, and legal observers.Supporters then moved to two police stations where people were being held. At one, police continued to attack the crowd, again deploying pepper spray and arresting more people. Finally, supporters were forced away from the station and gathered in a nearby park.
Throughout the ongoing ordeal of encampment evictions, the rhetoric spewed by both the mayor and police has been particularly vile and deceitful. Mayor John Tory has multiple times repeated that police were only deployed in such large numbers to quell rowdy protesters, which is demonstrably untrue. He has also stated that encampments had to be cleared because they were “interfering with programming in the park for low-income children.” Two days after the clearing of Alexandra Park, it was observed to be closed for a film shoot.
Unsurprisingly, the police themselves will share whatever narrative they please; in one instance tweeting that police had been sprayed with pepper spray, omitting that it was a police officer himself who misfired.
With another raid expected, this time on Toronto’s Moss Park encampment, the struggle continues.