Spartacist Canada No. 165

Summer 2010


G20, Vancouver Olympics

State Repression Targets Leftists

In the wake of the police-state measures surrounding the Vancouver Olympics, the government and police forces are preparing the largest “security” crackdown in Canadian history around the G20 summit in Toronto on June 26-27. A swathe of the downtown core is to be blocked by a three-metre high fence and thousands of heavily-armed cops are being mobilized from across the country. A spokesman for the RCMP Integrated Security Unit warned: “There’s going to be a massive—absolutely massive—presence of police and security on the ground like you’ve never seen before” (Toronto Star, 23 March).

During last year’s G20 summit in London, England, a 47-year-old man, Ian Tomlinson, died at the hands of riot police who were rampaging against protesters. Now the capitalist media is whipping up a frenzy against the threat of militant protests in Toronto by anarchist and other groups. This follows the demonization of anarchist anti-Olympic protesters in Vancouver, who were targeted by a media witchhunt and state repression.

Grotesquely, some self-proclaimed leftist groups joined in “violence”-baiting the anarchists in Vancouver. On March 9, the Socialist Voice website published a scurrilous article by Derrick O’Keefe, one of its “contributing editors,” titled “Activists Debate Vancouver Olympic Protests.” The International Socialists’ Socialist Worker (March 2010) ran the same article in slightly abridged form. Denouncing the anarchists’ February 13 “2010 Heart Attack” demonstration, which saw the arrest of several protesters, O’Keefe claimed that it “served up a PR coup for the Vancouver Police and the Olympic organizers.” In the same article, O’Keefe railed that “incidents” like the smashing of bank windows during the protest are “frequently the work of unwanted intruders.” Such slanders against “outside agitators” are the stock-in-trade of social democrats who support the existence of the repressive capitalist state. Nowhere do O’Keefe, Socialist Voice or Socialist Worker call to defend the anarchist protesters against state repression.

From the standpoint of the working class, these activists committed absolutely no crime. At the same time, we understand that successful struggle against the multi-faceted oppressions of the capitalist system must first and foremost seek to mobilize the social power of the working class. Rejecting this Marxist perspective, the “direct action” activists can offer no alternative except the sideshow of broken windows and toppled newspaper boxes, bringing them into isolated and ineffectual conflict with the bloody fist of the bosses’ state.

As we wrote in the build-up to the Vancouver Olympics:

“These Olympics shine a spotlight on the repressive nature of the capitalist state, which cannot be ‘cleaned up,’ reformed or pressured into acting on behalf of the workers and the oppressed. It must be shattered by workers revolution. Stopping racist state terror, defending the rights of Native people and the poor—all this and more requires the forging of a multiracial revolutionary workers party that fights to expropriate the capitalist class and build a new, socialist society where a centrally planned economy will produce for human need, not the profits of a tiny minority.”

—“Vancouver Olympics: State Repression Against Natives, the Poor,” SC No. 163 (Winter 2009/2010)

We print below a March 13 protest letter sent by the Partisan Defense Committee to B.C. Attorney General Mike de Jong following the arrests in Vancouver. The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization associated with the Trotskyist League/Ligue trotskyste.

We protest the state crackdown against anti-Olympics activists, a number of whom have been arrested and charged with serious crimes. From the standpoint of the international working class, the only “crime” committed here was that of heavily armed state agents repressing protesters in downtown Vancouver. The activists only exercised their right to protest, some through targeting symbols of oppressive Canadian capitalism, such as the Bay and TD Bank, without hurting anyone. In response, Guillaume Joseph-Marc Beaulieu was arrested and charged with mischief over $5000. Charges of possession of a dangerous weapon and possession of a prohibited weapon have also been laid against Daniel Myers. Charlotte Hannah, 23, and Willow Riley, 18, are facing the very serious charge of assaulting a “peace officer.”

Canadian governments and rulers, including in B.C., have nothing but contempt for the rights, health and lives of Native people, minorities and the oppressed. The “Black Bloc” protesters sought to oppose the grinding misery and exploitation that is the daily reality of workers, Natives and the poor in this society. Having whipped up a flag-waving “national unity” hysteria around the Olympics, the government wants to intimidate all those who would protest the violence and depredations of the capitalist system.

We condemn the attack on the “2010 Heart Attack” activists and demand that all charges against anti-Olympic protesters be dropped.