If you want to understand the mindset of the people who were arrested at last week’s Vancouver Casseroles march, there’s an interesting document that has been posted on Facebook by one of their arrestees. Interesting, in a sick & demented kind of a way that is- this guy is way off the charts on the crazy lefty scale…
I’ve seen Gregory Williams around in the Occupy Vancouver social media forums. He tends to get himself involved debates on violence- always supporting the concept of ‘Diversity of Tactics’ (DOT). DOT is a perversion of politically correct language that says that protesters must ‘respect’ other people’s ‘right’ to use whatever tactics they wish to- basically, anything goes. So, one protester may decided to drop a banner off of a bridge, while another may decide it is a good idea to break windows or get into a street fight with the police
Greenpeace gives a good explanation of what DOT is, and why it is a bad idea…
DOT has been the downfall of the activist community. It enables the selfish and immature to use demonstrations as a reason to externalize their anger without thinking of those around them. If you want to see the results of this policy, have a look at this video from the 2010 Olympics.
A lot of people involved in the anti-Olympics demonstrations complained about this incident afterwards. The result was that they received a lot of abuse from the DTES activist crazies. This resulted in a good man (who has since been co-opted) receiving a lot of abuse from them, and finally in a stacked debate with Harsha Walia. You can watch this debate on the infamous Harsha Walia Gone Wild! video.
Gregory Williams wrote a very long public letter about last week’s incident- one that would make most regular people cringe. I have put the most relevant part here for you to read- the rest of the document is embedded as a PDF at the bottom of this article:
When we understand this critique, it puts calls for “Casseroles” activists to cultivate good relations with the police in a whole new light. There are several implications:
1.) Whether or not a social movement is policed depends, to a certain extent, on how effective it is. Most genuinely anti-capitalist movements with any traction whatsoever have suffered police repression. But it depends to a much greater extent on the social location of the given movement. Movements that are mostly composed of middle class white people, which tend to have a rhetorical and tactical bent that is far less threatening to racial and class power structures and therefore to capitalism itself, are, as a rule, usually not threatened with nearly as much police violence as movements that are composed of low income and/or racialized people.
2.) As a result of this, it is important to note that the ability to be friendly with the police, to treat them as protectors and purveyors of our “charter rights” is a LUXURY that only movements with a significant amount of social privilege enjoy. Those movements can choose, in solidarity with low income and/or racialized people, to undertake a thoroughgoing critique of police and to chose tactics that do not rely on police protection. But they do not have to.
3.) It follows, then, that it is an a priori good to make it as difficult for the police to do their jobs as possible and, ultimately, to work towards the abolition of police entirely. This is not to say that there are times when it is tactically advantageous to cooperate with the police. Sometimes solidarity with another social movement demands this (the most recent example I can think of is the efforts by the Musqueam Nation to protect their ancient burial ground at cesna:m, where the leaders of the demonstration have asked those who come to be respectful of the police). As a general rule, however, it is a social justice concern to make the cops’ lives as difficult as reasonably possible.
As you can see, not only does Williams misrepresent the behaviour of the Vancouver Police (who are tame by the standards of most countries), but Williams actually tells people it is their duty to resist the police when they are doing their jobs. This is the sort of demented thinking we are up against here.
Another story of the crazy activists in Vancouver’s Downtown East side…
Do you know what else is highly ironic? They keep claiming the VPD learned its tactics from the SPVM (Montreal police). Funny thing about that is a)Mayor Tremblay is the most protest friendly mayor, even letting occupy stay until long after the temp dropped to the negatives, and Occupy Montreal was probably the last camp to pack up, thanks in part to that, b) if you look at the protests in Mtl, Quebec city, TO and Vancouver, the SPVM has the lowest arrest/ticket ratio compared to all, at about .01 percent. Compare that to Quebec city that has arrested/ticketed or detained hundreds at a time in the few demonstrations they have had their. In fact, many in Montreal are wondering why the police in this city have been so “hands off” and when things got really bad, were calling for the military because the police couldn’t or wouldn’t seem to handle the worst of the protests/ers.
Vancouver protesters are lucky that the VPD are getting advice from the SPVM, not the SQ (Quebec provincial police) or the SPVQ (Quebec city police).
You make a very good point here. The irony behind their complaints is comical.
Having lived in counties where the police don’t hesitate to beat people I find it totally offensive that these people make such accusations about what is happening in Vancouver. It is entirely irresponsible…
Do you know what else is funny? These folks are managing to lose a PR war with group, the police, that generally speaking, are looked at with indifferance at best, and fear, distrust, and disliking at worst.
It takes real skill to lose a battle that much in your favour. Maybe if they successfully lose this battle they can go make white supremists, predatory priests, wife beaters or some other group look good in comparison.
The kids are lucky that the police don’t know how to read the riot act. If nothing else, it would be amusing to hear them shout ‘we’re not rioting, we’re marching in the streets to effect a change in government, to establish a socialist dictatorship!’ as they are arrested for rioting.
Seriously, tho, I would like to see a good, clean fight between the kids and the police. You know, a proper Canadian matchup, Canadian rules, not these bizzare middle eastern/american rules that these kids seem to be playing by. It’s not their fault, really, as the Universities are mostly full of Americans who manufacture our teachers, etc. etc. You wouldn’t believe that one delaware corporation filters who gets to go to law school in Canada, but it is true. So there is not, and has not been for some time, any competent legal advice for church, state, etc. That delaware corporation ensures that only high-functioning idiots become lawyers.
Lawyers/Professors/Doctors/Etc. have fiduciary duty to those under their care, and due to systemic compromise of the University system, they are not meeting those duties, and cannot even reasonably articulate them. These kids are more the symptom than the cause, in my view.
Someone just pointed me to this blog article, so I thought I’d share my two posts on the matter. One before the police beatings started, when I was participating in them; and one after, when I anticipated it wasn’t safe enough for me to continue participating.
The “other people have it worse elsewhere” argument doesn’t answer how the police acted in this case as judge, jury, and prison guard. That is not their responsibility, and throwing people against cement waste bins or head first into steel doors, when they aren’t resisting, is accomplishing nothing but making their jobs even harder. Why? Because now decent law-abiding people can’t trust them.
You seem to have little understanding of why these demonstrations were happening at all, and why the police response to them was deemed largely inappropriate. It’s unfortunate, because you accomplish nothing but coming off as though you have a bone to pick with Greg, when you could be offering some sort of critique if you had any other reason for writing about this issue.