From It’s Going Down (with embedded tweets removed)
This week the bulk of our column is dedicated to covering Palestine solidarity efforts across the country. Read on for a round up of occupations, sit-ins, marches, blockades and more.
We also cover the late October arrests of the founders of the Drug User Liberation Front in Vancouver, and a raid of the groups offices. Cops want to make sure that anyone getting safe drugs into the hands of drug users is punished, so people continue to die from criminalization and the contaminated drug supply.
Some brief mentions of other actions that have taken place in the past month:
There was a disruption of an RBC university recruitment talk in Toronto in late October. The action took place during a week of action against banks on campus. Folks made connections between the banks and the fossil fuel projects they fund, including notably Coastal Gaslink, the pipeline project currently nearing completion in Wet’suwet’en territory.
In mid-October, Indigenous leaders from communities across Turtle Island gathered in Toronto to demand a stop to TC Energy’s pipeline projects in their territories. Wet’suwet’en land defenders were joined by Nahua, Mixtec and Otomi land defenders from Puebla, Hidalgo, and Veracruz in so-called Mexico. The weekend of action included a film screening, rally, and march through downtown Toronto, with stops at many of the offices of pipeline collaborators.
We’re trying out a new monthly schedule for Canadian Tire Fire. You can expect a new issue at the beginning of each month. We’re always taking suggestions for stories. Email us at canadiantirefire [AT] riseup [DOT] net.
Since Hamas’s October 7th attack, killing around 1,400 people and taking around 240 hostages, Israel has been carrying out a massive campaign of death and destruction on the Palestinian people through a brutal siege and military offensive. Thousands of Gazans have died, over 10,5000 at last estimate, with thousands more estimated buried under the rubble of countless buildings collapsed by the bombings. Fuel has run out at many hospitals, worsening an already deadly crisis caused not only by the air and ground assault but also by the blocking of food, water, and fuel from entering the open-air prison.
The colonial violence of the Israeli state has intensified in the West Bank as well, where Israeli settlers have been given increasing access and encouragement to arm themselves. Between IDF and settler civilian attacks, at least 133 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed. Israel recently deported Palestinians working in Israel to Gaza, where they will be under constant threat of death, but only after imprisoning, beating, and interrogating many of them. In the face of all this, Western states like the US and Canada have been standing by Israel, publicly mourning the deaths of Israeli soldiers, shying away from providing any meaningful international pressure for a ceasefire, and creating an environment generally hostile to solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
Across Canada, anarchists and others have been organizing to support Palestine from afar. So much has been happening there’s no way we can cover it all, but we’ve put together a summary of some of the efforts that have taken place over the last few weeks, as well as some reflections on proposals for anarchist interventions.
On October 30, coordinated office occupations began of 17 Canadian MPs demanding that Canada call for a ceasefire. In addition to office occupations, MPs have been targeted in other ways. On November 1st, the entrance to Melanie Joly’s MP office was drenched in red paint and had a banner hung on it. As well, the list of the names of the Palestinians killed by Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza (produced by Palestine’s Health ministry) was left in front of the door of the building.
Weekly marches have been happening in many cities in Canada. In Vancouver, protests have met most Saturdays at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
In Montreal, protests have been been happening downtown at least once a week as well, with emergency protests called a few times as well. These demonstrations have consistently brought out thousands of people. A recent Montreal demonstration on November 4th was attended by an estimated 50,000 people and coincided with a symbolic blockade of the CBC/ Radio Canada building.
Weekly marches have been occurring in Toronto, with the latest on November 4 including a 5 hour sit-in in Toronto’s financial district going late into the night.
In Toronto, INKAS Armored, a defense contractor with tied to the IDF, was picketed:
Early on the morning of October 30th, a crowd descended on INKAS Armored, a Toronto-based defence contractor with ties to the Israeli Defence Forces. Responding to a call from Palestinian trade unions for workers around the world to shut down exports to the Israeli military, the protesters set up picket lines to block access to the facility.
In Vancouver on November 3rd, anti-Zionist Jews held an action where they blocked a major artery to the Port of Vancouver, calling for an end to business as usual in the face of the assault on Gaza.
Anarchist Analyses of Palestine Solidarity
A few proposals have emerged recently for how anarchists and radicals should engage in this moment of international solidarity with Palestine. Because we imagine our readers will come across them, we’d like to offer a few reflections.
An anonymous submission to North Shore Counter-info has called for anarchists to escalate their interventions in the current moment. The article speaks, in part, to a desire for a specifically anarchist response to the unfolding crisis, one in which it is easy to feel powerless, and where the way to respond from a specific politic is at times unclear.
Commentary published in Montreal Counter-Info offers a different suggestion: for anarchists and the radical left to “prioritize the voice(s) of the people concerned and acknowledging their complete leadership of the ongoing resistance movement…accept a secondary role: to sometimes stay silent, to listen, and to learn.” It also asserts: “it is in no way our role to emphasize “complexity” and bring “nuance” to the situation.”
We believe that an anarchist response to this situation requires careful reflection, and identification of both the specific analysis and skillsets that anarchists bring. A meaningful anarchist response requires political clarity, which in turn requires time spent understanding the issue and building political analysis together. It requires reflecting on our range of tactics and skills, and what these can offer to an international solidarity movement. It also requires an honest discussion of strategy, developed with our comrades or adapted from other contexts. We can use a lens of effectiveness, or of what tactics we wish to see generalized, what skills we may be able to help foster and spread, but the why matters. Whatever words we use to describe it, we should assess both the intentions and likely effects of our interventions. Are we aiming to spread a message of solidarity in a new but still symbolic way, have we identified a chokepoint that allows for a more material intervention in the flow of money, information, or equipment to Israel and those supporting it, or are we doing something else entirely?
We should remain critical of our desire to ‘escalate’ – does this stem from a belief that ‘escalated’ actions (one-off or sustained) are more effective than marches and rallies in this moment, do they feel more politically fulfilling (to us, or to a broader movement), does taking on more risk mean we care more? How does acting with urgency support or hinder our goals? There are myriad good reasons to escalate, and it is worth being clear about what those reasons are, and whether the tactics we choose align with those reasons.
While the submission to North Shore Counter-info may give some anarchists a much needed push to begin reflecting on how to engage more thoughtfully and consciously in this context, its lack of specificity makes its message ring hollow. While hope is a critical part of any struggle, the vision for anarchists to “share food, tell stories, dance and sing songs, bask in the warmth of the sun, and marvel at the deep night sky” feels out of touch while the Gaza sky, day and night, is filled with explosions. Living free in Canada is not a suitable anarchist intervention in the absence of a direct proposal to use that freedom to affect something outside of ourselves.
While the commentary in Montreal Counter-Info proposes a model of solidarity that misses the opportunity for deeper understanding, unity, and empowerment, its assertion that showing up is never the wrong thing remains true: “While solidarity in words means little at the moment, solidarity in the streets will never be too much.” In this moment, we must not look away – with our eyes on Palestine, and a critical gaze toward every violent nation state, including our own, we can turn to each other and find a way forward.
Safe Supply Compassion Club Founders Arrested, Solidarity Actions
On October 26th, Vancouver police raided the offices of the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF), an advocacy and community support organization. The day prior, two founding members of the group were arrested and had their homes raided. Since 2021, DULF has provided services including drug testing, overdose response training, and the provision of harm reduction supplies, as well as being vocal supporters of drug decriminalization and harm reduction-oriented policy. Notably, in 2022, they launched a compassion club pilot program, which allowed members to access up to fourteen grams of tested cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine every week. The arrests this week stemmed from allegations that DULF was using funds provided by the BC Centre on Substance Use, meant to fund other harm reduction programs, to pay for the compassion club. DULF had refuted this accusation, saying that all funds used to pay for controlled substances came from crowdfunding.
In September 2023, DULF released a report of preliminary findings from the first year of the compassion club program. According to the report, data collected from the 43 participants of the program found that enrollment was associated with a 35% reduction in overdoses, 50% reduction in hospitalisations, 39% reduction in experiences of violence, and 48% reduction in police interactions.
Following the arrests, a march and rally was held in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, calling out the criminalization of harm reduction amidst an overdose crisis. A solidarity rally was also held outside the BC legislature in Victoria. And in Toronto, a crew held a demonstration outside the office of the Attorney General.
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