Tonight was the night that the anarchists converged on West Toronto- much to the dismay of the local residents. It all started a couple of weeks ago when Zach Ruiter, an anarchist, started publicising the fact that there’s a uranium processing plant at Lansdowne & Dupont. The plant has been there for over 50 years, and the information about it is published on the Internet- but, Ruiter came out screaming that it’s a secret plant…
The evening’s festivities began at the entrance to the plant. About 8-10 people showed-up for the protest, they were outnumbered by the 12-15 police officers who were there. The anarchists grumbled a lot about the large police presence- quite ridiculous considering how much damage the anarchists have done in this city in the past. This is a nuclear plant- imagine if they didn’t have enough security and something happened?
While the (small) crowd was gathered in front of the plant I took some time and talked with some of the neighbours across the street. At first they thought I was one of the anarchists and they were very stand-offish. I explained to them I was reporting on the event, and not part of it, and they quickly warmed-up to me. So I asked them their feelings on what was going on.
While they weren’t impressed to have a uranium processing plant across the street from their houses, they were even more unimpressed with the people running the event. They complained about the meeting the day before saying that Ruiter was way too alarmist and that much of the information he was sharing was inaccurate.
They also said that Ruiter got a lot of flack from the residents at that meeting. This is very curious, because it exposes the Toronto Star’s bias in-favour of the anarchists. In their article about Wednesday’s meeting they mentioned that one of the local residents was unhappy with Ruiter. That’s not quite true according to what I was told, many of the residents were vocally unhappy with him. I guess this is to be expected, the Star has spent a lot of time promoting the anarchists in the past.
After the demonstration, the protesters marched to the local community centre and began the evening’s meeting. There were about 100 or so people there, half of them were with the anarchist/lefty crowd, and the other half were from the neighbourhood. The locals were rather uncomfortable with the lefties, particularly with the wacky ones, like the old lady walking around with a radio frequency detector and telling people to put their phones into airplane mode.
The background music playing before the meeting started was from Occupy the musical- this was the first hint that this meeting was not about the locals. When Ruiter announced that the meeting was Livestreamed by Occupy Toronto there was a collective sigh from the local residents- this was when they began to understand who was behind the meeting.
There was some entertainment before the panel began speaking. The Raging grannies were on-stage and sang a few songs. Here’s a video:
I won’t bore you too with the details of the speakers. They began with a line-up of politicians from federal, provincial and local government. The local representative was a very nervous looking city councillor named Cesar Palacio- he’s conservative leaning, and as I was told by someone I met there, he has generally voted along with mayor Rob Ford.
Suddenly things were beginning to make sense- I was wondering what the anarchist’s ulterior motive was (they usually have one). The lefties have been trying to punish Ford ever since he was voted in. This situation didn’t make Palacio look very good, he should have been on-top of it. I could imagine that if there was a lefty city councillor in this ward we may not have had such an assault.
I went up to Palacio during the meeting and asked him if he knew that it was being run by anarchists. He looked at me nervously and nodded. From what I could see, this is a man who was filled with fear that his career was over. And, it may just be everyone – left, right & centre – should be genuinely upset that he wasn’t on top of such an important fact.
That said, as much as we should be angry with Palacio, we should probably be even more disappointed with our neighbourhood’s MP- Andrew Cash. Nuclear regulation is under federal legislation and Cash should have been aware of this plant. As a message to MP’s across the country, we should boot Cash out of office at the next election.
Let me get back to the anarchists- because they’re an important part of the story. Zach wasn’t the only anarchist in the room- there were many. In fact, there were a couple of very significant anarchist leaders amongst us, and a very high-profile supporter. All of them are sympathetic to the violence that occurred during the G20.
Zach is an unfluential member of the anarchist community. I first learned about who he was after watching one of his videos chronicling an anarchist field trip to the student strikesin Montreal earlier this year. Most of the strikers were students who acted peacefully and lawfully during the strike. The anarchists were anything but peaceful though. One of the more memorable moments was when they invaded the Université du Québec à Montréal, spray painted the walls, interrupted classes, and assaulted to women.
Zach made another video that caught my attention. It was about an incident in a Toronto court where George Horton, a G20 vandal, was being sentenced to 10 months in prison. The video included a who’s who of Toronto’s pro-violence anarchists- including two of the people who were at the meeting with us on Thursday night.
The first person who appears on the video is Julian Ichim, the anarchist who led the interruption of the Remembrance Day ceremonies last week– he’s also currently being prosecuted for crimes related to the G20. The next person on the video is a man who I refer to as “Flagpole Alex”- he violently assaulted me this summer to the point where I needed staples in my scalp. Alex (who’s last name is still a mystery) is currently on the run from the Toronto Police.
The next interesting character on the video was in the room with us last night. Her name is Sakura Saunders– a self-identifying anarchist. If you listen to Saunders on the video you will hear her saying about Horton: “I mean, all he did was kick the door of a police car!” Saunders is a trust fund kiddie who has somehow morphed to promoting violence on the streets of Toronto- the exact opposite what my neighbours in this ward want to see.
I’ve saved the most interesting person on the video for last. Roy Brady of the Council of Canadians (CoC) was speaking at the meeting on Thursday night. The CoC’s have an uncomfortably close relationship with anarchists across Canada. I spoke on the phone with the CoC’s Executive Director Garry Neil last year and he personally admitted that they were responsible for bringing the anarchists into their protest at the 2010 Olympics. Here’s a video in case you don’t know what happened that day:
There was one last anarchist who joined us on Thursday- her name is Ashleigh Ingle, a teacher at Toronto’s exclusive Dragon Academy, and the author of a paper titled No Photo Ops With The Fucking Cops. Ingle is a leader of the anarchists- I first saw her at an anti police march leading the chat “No Justice, No Peace, Fuck the Police. Here’s a short video of that day:
One of the best tricks of the anarchists is what I call the fuzzy bunny attack. They will attach themselves to a cause that many people find to be quite appealing as a way to get support from outsiders. Once the outsiders have joined them, they have the perfect ‘human shield’ to protect them as they engage in what they lovingly refer to as ‘smashy, smashy’.
I can’t speak for what Zach Ruiter’s intentions are in this protest- I can only guess. That said, my instinct tells me that he genuinely cares about this cause. I totally respect that, I too have very strong issues with nuclear power. I’ve been writing about it since last year when I uncovered that Cameco had a uranium contaminated ship in Vancouver’s harbour- less than a kilometre from my house. I’ve also reported extensively on the disaster at Fukushima.
Zach could be a great asset to the battle against this plant. Equally, with his deep connections and support of people who have exercised street violence, he could be a very valuable ally. There are many people in the community who are uncomfortable with this part of Zach’s background.
We all need to be reassured that violence will never be a part of any action against the GE-Hitachi plant. Personally, if he gives us his word on this, I will have no issues having Zach work in our community.
Can you do this Zach? If you can, then we should all embrace your leadership and work with you- if not, then you have no right to come into our community…