From Embers: 85 Years Since the Christie Pits Riot

85 years ago this week, in the midst of another long hot summer, a series of anti-Semitic and xenophobic provocations in the City of Toronto escalated into a full blown riot at Christie Pits. As the Nazis rose to power in Germany, a series of “Swastika Clubs” were organized out of a canoe club in Toronto and patrolled the Beaches neighbourhood with the intention of harassing so-called foreigners and to “clean up the beaches.” Tensions mounted and several confrontations were narrowly avoided.

About a week later, during a baseball game at Christie Pits, members of the “Pit Gang” unfurled a huge white banner bearing a black swastika. Jewish and Italian youth rushed the banner and tore it to shreds, and the skirmish quickly escalated into a massive riot involving hundreds of fighters and lasting several hours. Amazingly, no one was killed. The riot became a part of the mythology of the city, especially for the Toronto’s Jewish community. Read More …

Getting It Together: Organizing Collectives for the Real World

During 2017, Punch Up Collective spent several months developing curriculum for a four-hour workshop we call “Getting It Together: Organizing Collectives for the Real World.” In early 2018, we facilitated this workshop for the first time and also wrote “Getting It Together: Ideas for Organizing Collectives,” a companion article which Briarpatch Magazine published.

We were primarily motivated by what we see as the demands of this political moment. As Toronto-based organizer Syed Hussan writes, “If there is a hope in hell of us transforming our society, and building the kinds of worlds we want to live in, we need masses of people organized, disciplined and militant. It may seem that media moments are where change happens, but that is fleetinDuring 2017, Punch Up Collective spent several months developing curriculum for a four-hour workshop we call “Getting It Together: Organizing Collectives for the Real World.” In early 2018, we facilitated this workshop for the first time and also wrote “Getting It Together: Ideas for Organizing Collectives,” a companion article which Briarpatch Magazine published.

We were primarily motivated by what we see as the demands of this political moment. As Toronto-based organizer Syed Hussan writes, “If there is a hope in hell of us transforming our society, and building the kinds of worlds we want to live in, we need masses of people organized, disciplined and militant. It may seem that media moments are where change happens, but that is fleeting. Large scale movements rise up and dissipate. Organizations, collectives, affinity groups are needed to build up to them and beyond them.” We wholeheartedly agree.g. Large scale movements rise up and dissipate. Organizations, collectives, affinity groups are needed to build up to them and beyond them.” We wholeheartedly agree. Read More …

Report from August 11th Anti-Fascist Mobilization in Toronto

This is a report on the anti-fascist mobilization against the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI) in Toronto on August 11, 2018. It’s written by an individual and is not intended to be comprehensive – for a fuller picture, see reports from Anti-Racist Canada here and here, the Toronto General Defence Committee, No Borders Media (source for the photos), and the video from THREAT.

The story began when the WCAI, which is based in Alberta, called for an “epic rally” in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. WCAI prides itself on putting “political correctness in the trash where it belongs,” and by that they mean embracing the racist label, openly referring to Muslims and immigrants as ‘sewage,’ and calling for extreme violence against anti-fascists. Several racist rallies have been unable to take the streets of Ontario in recent months due to anti-fascist mobilizing, so the WCAI claimed they were flying in from Alberta to lead a coalition of the most violence-prone groups (Proud Boys, Soldiers of Odin, Northern Guard, the Canadian Nationalist Front and the Canadian Combat Coalition) and “take back Toronto.” It was called for August 11th, one year after Charlottesville. Read More …

Hamilton Rent Strikers Bring Demands to Landlord’s Doorstep in Ottawa

For years, tenants have swallowed the landlord line that rent increases are simply a routine levy to provide necessary upkeep to buildings. Too often the profit-driven mechanisms of the real estate industry are hidden behind the curtain of landlord spin and nice-guy superintendents. Since the growth of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and other more aggressive forms of investment into multi-residential properties, working-class tenants have been feeling severe pain and insecurity over their housing, forcing them to organize out of the sheer necessity of collective self-defence. Peeling back the surface layers of the landlord industry, they see where the rent increases that they’re forced to swallow actually go: into mansions — big mansions — and luxury cars, $10,000 suits, yachts, and every other gross display of opulence imaginable.

Such was the case last weekend when striking tenants from the Stoney Creek Towers in Hamilton trekked to Ottawa with their supporters to confront the executives from InterRent, a REIT with an investment strategy based around displacing working-class tenants from their neighbourhoods. Read More …

Counter-demo in Markham against Anti-Refugee protest

I am feeling pretty distraught at to moment, not so much from the cut I received as my megaphone was torn from my hand and thrown into a fountain, not so much from the punches and shoves, but mostly from this feeling that as the Chinese left, we’ve been asleep to the political dynamics in the Chinese ‘community’ for the past decade or so. Today, about 15 of us gathered at Markham Civic Centre to counter protest an event organized by Conservative Party and fascist elements opposed to the housing of refugees at a York Region School Board facility. Read More …

Support the Flemingdon Park Rent Strike

On August 1st more than 200 tenants at 31-35 St. Dennis Drive will withhold their rent. Rent strikers demand Minto Properties withdraws its application to raise rent above the guideline. Despite serious and persistent disrepair in the building, Minto wants to raise tenants’ rent by $180 over three years. This would mean that every month Minto would take $70,000 more in rents from the pockets of tenants in the building. Read More …

Toronto: Cops n Klan, Hand in Hand: Report on the July 21 Counter Demo against PEGIDA

On Saturday July 21 folks showed up to counter a PEGIDA rally – something that’s been happening consistently in Toronto. PEGIDA is the name of a group in Germany which opposes immigration and spreads racist hate against Muslims. Local bigots have been trying to import the model.

When I showed up the number of racists were pretty small – maybe 7-10 people huddled inside a metal fence protected by about 40 cops. Antiracist crews numbered about 60. Not the worst turnout and odds I’ve seen. Read More …