Spartacist Canada No. 160

Spring 2009


25 Years Ago: Victory Against a KKK/Nazi Frame-Up

We print below, slightly edited for publication, the remarks of Paul Schneider at the December 12 Toronto Holiday Appeal.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the beginning of a successful campaign to defend two trade-union militants who were framed up by the Ku Klux Klan. Mike Mares and I, who were both postal workers in 1983, were charged with “assault causing bodily harm” for defending ourselves and others at a labour-endorsed abortion rights demonstration in Toronto. For nine months, KKK “intelligence director” William Lau Richardson and Nazi George Graham dragged Mike and me through the courts in an attempt to have us locked behind bars.

Key to defeating this frame-up was the work of the Committee to Defend Anti-Fascist Unionists. Initiated by the Trotskyist League and militant postal unionists, this committee mobilized broad support amongst labour, minorities and all the intended victims of the labour-hating, race-terrorist KKK/Nazis.

Richardson had a 15-year history of terror, infiltration, provocation and harassment of the left and the labour movement. Born in the United States, this Klansman had worked for the CIA, U.S. Army Intelligence and had a “professional relationship” with the RCMP. After he moved to Canada, Richardson, an explosives expert, was hired by the notorious union-busting outfit Centurion Investigations Ltd. Richardson admitted under oath that while employed by Centurion he made bombs that were planted in the cars of union officials, militants and foreign workers. These actions were intended to break strikes and disrupt union organizing drives. He also bragged about collecting information on Chilean refugees.

In mid-1983, just months before he targeted Mike and me, Richardson was congratulated in the KKK Action newsletter for becoming a “Great Titan.” He was one of the creeps hanging around our union hall targeting us and targeting our union. He and his Nazi cohort provoked, harassed and intimidated a Toronto rally in defense of abortion rights on October 1, 1983. Mike and I helped defend that rally from this scum.

Hundreds of unionists from across Canada, including 12 union locals and close to 90 union officials, supported our defense. The Ontario Federation of Labour—then representing 800,000 unionists—endorsed the demand “Drop the Charges Against Paul Schneider and Mike Mares!”

In February 1984 in the old Canadian Union of Postal Workers union hall, close to 100 people rallied in defense of Mike and me. The following July, more than 40 protesters including members of 14 different unions demonstrated outside the courthouse, demanding that the charges against Mike and me be dropped. Time and time again our supporters filled the courtroom to show their solidarity.

With counsel provided by well-known lawyers, Paul Copeland and Clayton Ruby, the defense committee sought to ensure that Mike and I had the best possible legal defense while placing no confidence in the so-called “justice” of the capitalist courts.

Central to defeating this frame-up was the mobilization of broad protest by the labour movement and minorities. This was not only an important victory but a concrete demonstration of the necessity of a class-struggle program to defeat capitalist reaction. A victory in court cannot stop KKK/Nazi terror—they’re out to kill. What we need are labour and minority mobilizations to sweep the fascists from the streets.

The climate of Cold War II fed into the genuinely criminal activities of the right wing and the race terrorists of the KKK. The Cold War emboldened them to attempt more massacres like the 1979 KKK/Nazi murder of five anti-Klan protesters in Greensboro, North Carolina. When the KKK threatened to hold a “victory march” in Detroit days after the Greensboro massacre, comrades in the Spartacist League/U.S. initiated a successful rally to proclaim “The Klan Won’t Ride in the Motor City!” From San Francisco to Chicago to Ann Arbor to Vancouver, Trotskyists initiated demonstrations to stop racist reaction. In November 1982, the SL initiated the powerful 5,000-strong Labor/Black Mobilization that stopped the Klan in Washington, D.C.

During their anti-Soviet war drive, the bosses employed union-busting, racist terror and rampant social reaction to discipline the working class. Today, the bosses and their governments are fleecing working people to solve their capitalist financial crisis. The bosses and their governments are moving to keep the working class and minorities in line and will not hesitate to employ union-busting, racist terror and social reaction to achieve their goals. We must stop them. We must be prepared to defend those who fight against capitalism.

Tonight we must support the Partisan Defense Committee’s program of sending monthly stipends as an expression of solidarity to those imprisoned for standing up to racist capitalist repression and imperialist depredation.

Working people need their own government. Working people don’t need pro-capitalist coalition governments. We need a workers government that will put an end to capitalism once and for all. Thank you.