Thursday’s OCAP Protest: Bullies, Victims, Lies, And An Angry Woman With A Shank…

OCAP Leader John Clarke Slandering Me To The Media...

OCAP Leader John Clarke Slandering Me To The Media…

On Thursday the OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) held a protest in the City of Toronto owned Metro Hall building. It was pretty much the same crowd who were at their City Hall protest a couple weeks back minus a few. Anarchist Mennonite Street Preacher Doug Hatlem Johnson was conspicuously absent, but John Clarke was there, as was Mark Brill, Jenny Peto as was her partner Lisa Schofield.

The protest was much the same as the one at City Hall. People had signs, there was chanting, people sitting on blankets and lots of media. But, there is one thing that was different- this time, late in the evening while the police were dragging OCAP members out of the building, an angry (and sadly misdirected) woman with a sharp object attempted to stab me…

The moment I arrived I was accosted by a person I’ve not met before. His name is Macdonald Scott, he’s an elfin looking man who’s an immigration consultant who works for a law firm- and, curiously, he’s also a member of the racist hate group (that focusses on immigration) No One Is Illegal. Scott came up to me and made what comically looked like a Nazi salute in an attempt to block my camera. I asked him why he was blocking me and he said the usual “because you’ve been harassing people”. He had a Jenny Peto moment when I asked him specifics of what I’ve done- you could see on his face that he knew he was caught lying so he stopped and turned away from me.

So I walked away from him only to notice that John Clarke was talking to the media about your’s truly! If you can believe it, he was so scared that someone from the media would talk with me that he actually put himself on the line by slandering me to them. After my story about Mark Brill’s participation in a violent union action the week before, Clarke probably knew he had a lot to hide.

The next hour was bordering on the ridiculous. Wherever I walked, OCAP members (mostly their leaders) followed me around with signs and tried to stop me from filming. It was juvenile, even John Clarke was following me around- all this despite the fact there were dozens of people with cameras.

About half-way through I started to figure out why they were doing this. I watched OCAP people talking to the media, and all the reporters did was throw them softballs. Here’s an organization that works closely with (and some of their members participated in) the Black Bloc during the G20, and people who threw Molotov cocktails during the Queen’s Park riot- yet, not a single member of the media appeared to ask a single critical question. The mainstream media knows that people who criticise OCAP get pushed out of the way.

I came back later in the evening to cover the arrests when I met fellow blogger UndercoverKity. Things were relatively quiet until about 8 o’clock- but, as the eviction time got nearer, one could feel the energy in the crowd getting more tense. Police officers began to gather around the crowd at about 8:15, and MacDonald Scott stood up to make an announcement. He said that he also represented the Movement Defence Committee, a legal fund setup to provide support to activists who end-up getting arrested. In his speech he made it crystal clear that anyone who was arrested would receive legal assistance.

There was an announcement on the PA system at 8:30 proclaiming that the building was closed and all people should leave. A few minutes later a police official came out and gave a last 5 minute warning- anyone left inside the building afterwards would be arrested. I smelt smoke in the air a couple of minutes later and alerted the building security- it seems like someone may have put a match into a bag full of paper garbage but the fire didn’t catch.

One of the first people to be arrested was Derek Soberal. He put up a bit of a struggle and was then carted off into a paddy wagon waiting outside. Soberal was apparently the only person who was taken into custody that night, the rest of the protesters were ticketed and sent outside. Some protesters went limp and had to be dragged out, the others went peacefully.

While I was outside, filming the arrests through the window, a woman came up to me who I’ve met once before. It was at Sid Ryan’s protest against the Ontario Liberal Convention when OCAP leaders used their megaphone system to try to incite people to commit violence against me. She also tweeted an abusive message to me back in January. She appears to be in her 20’s, I’m told she’s a gang member- and from her speech/demeanour, it seems clear she’s developmentally disabled. For this reason I won’t publish her name.

She came up to me and told me I should stop filming because I’m a “molester”. A couple minutes later Undercover Kitty yells out at me to put away my camera and to immediately get out of there. I trust him with my life, so I didn’t ask any questions I just walked away briskly. He later told me that she was behind me with a sharp metal object in her hand that was about 4-5 inches long. He also said she had a friend in-front of me who was just about to grab my camera. His last observation is that this protest was “clearly out of their territory” – it’s possible this was planned and they were brought in.

Just a typical day at an OCAP rally…

When analyzing OCAP, outside of the violence, there’s a much more important question to be asked. Are they representing the people they say they are- or, are their leaders appropriating the voices of the poor for political purposes?

One way of answering that question is to look at the statistics. According to one count there are over six-hundred thousand people living in poverty in Toronto alone. The crowd on Thursday was about 100 people at it’s peak- consisting of three groups- each divided about equally: poor people, anarchists and OCAP’s leaders (generally college educated people with opportunities in life). So, there were 30-40 of the 600,000 Torontonians living in poverty at the protest- OCAP’s far from operating with a mandate.

At least, not a mandate from the poor- it’s very clear OCAP members have been given a mandate by the labour movement. The public services unions have a lot to gain from OCAP’s lobbying- and, as we saw a week previous, OCAP members have been bussed-in to labour disputes to provide muscle in the past. OPSEU members often march alongside them waving their flags.

It’s true that OCAP’s protests have value in creating awareness- but, with an issue that’s as delicate as poverty, not all press is good press. If you look at the media’s coverage you’ll see OCAP is only helping entrench people in their own positions- the liberal/radical media tells a positive story to an already sold audience, the conservative media reaffirms the values of their audiences, and OCAP’s militancy helps the bigots justify their “get a job you bum” attitude.

The more I look at OCAP the more it looks like a gladiator academy- a tool to radicalise the poor. The people who have taken leadership all have deep roots in the city’s radical Trotskyite (violent) community. They have close affiliations with violent/racist organizations like No One Is Illegal. They have connections to red-diaper baby superstars like Naomi Klein– someone who actually tried to help cover for John Clarke’s revving up the crowds as they threw Molotov cocktails during the Queen’s Park riot.

The parallels between OCAP and Occupy are too much to ignore…

Another parallel is that there was almost no discussion about solutions at this protest- neither was there any at the City Hall protest. There was lots of talks about building more shelters- but that won’t necessarily solve the big problem. There are empty shelter beds somewhere most nights, but many shelters fill-up. It seems that currently there’s no way of knowing which shelters have space until late at night. (One solution I could think of is that the shelters could use a common application to book people into their spaces- that way, people could have real-time views of where space is available.)

There’s one last important thing to mention. It’s about Macdonald Scott’s promise that everyone arrested would be provided legal care. I’ve now heard from two independent sources that when Derek Soberal was arrested, nobody came to help bail him out. He was left sitting on his own, and didn’t end up getting out of jail until about 2:30am. That’s some show of solidarity there Macdonald.

People living in poverty need better representation than this…

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    • brotherwolf1 on March 11, 2013 at 08:48
    • Reply

    I hope that after reading and seeing this, those who were supporters of O-CRAP will see the light and leave them, the same way O-CRAP abandoned those who supported them to the end of this event. These people ( O-CRAP ) use people for their own purposes only as disposable people , promise them the moon , but deliver dust bunnies instead.

    1. I certainly know that if I was with a group that left one behind like this I’d probably not trust them any longer…

    • Georgian on March 11, 2013 at 17:46
    • Reply

    If there’s one thing opportunists hate more it’s a rival opportunist. Turf war.

    1. Hopefully their members will realize that if OCAP can throw Soberal under the bus they could be next…

        • Georgian on March 11, 2013 at 21:37
        • Reply

        They see Soberal as an interloper looking to gain a fan base. Soberal tries this routine wherever he goes and, even if he doesn’t realize it, OCAP agents are always there watching him.

        1. Yeah, it was the same at Zach Ruiter’s “Idle No More” march a couple of weeks ago. At one point Soberal feels guilty about blocking innocent people in their cars (on a weekend) and tries to get some cars through- it took about 20 seconds for Ruiter to stop him. He must have been watching Derek like a hawk…

          • The Hammer on March 13, 2013 at 12:28
          • Reply

          This is not the first time Soberal has done this with OCAP. Wasn’t he the one who led the OCAP charge during the budget meeting a couple years ago?

    • Tamara on March 11, 2013 at 23:06
    • Reply

    Holy Sh*t Greg, thank god she didn’t stab you! That would have been horrible! They’ve riled people up way too much, you’re NOT a molester or racist person at all! I also hope that wasn’t a planned thing by people in positions of power in these organizations… if so, that is blatant corruption as well as will to commit murder or at least bodily harm… This is very serious, please watch yourself and thanks to Undercover Kitty for being there too! Bloody hell this whole thing has gone way out of control! They can’t just seem to grasp that you simply disagree with them and that you haven’t actually said anything wrong. I have never heard you say anything racist or sexist. I suspect alot of these people are just going on faith that others who tell them you do know what they are talking about. And some are willing to harm you and others without anything more than faith. :(

    Maybe she did it completely on her own. Had the object in her pocket and then got mad and decided to attack at the spur of the moment. I hope so… otherwise, if this was planned whoever planned it is dangerous to anyone they meet.

    • Tamara on March 11, 2013 at 23:09
    • Reply

    It probably wasn’t anyone in a position of power in the organizations… Maybe just a few of the people who are mad at you… I hope. Either way I hope no one attacks you in the future. Be careful.

  1. Tamara, no, this was a planned attack. I was there and witnessed the entire event as it transpired. Greg was being stalked and they were setting up to pounce on him from behind. One person was going to jump on him to grab his camera from behind and the other person had the object in her hand ready to attack once Greg was in a more vulnerable position as he would been while trying to prevent an other person from taking his camera. These same two person were accosting a little earlier as well, also outside after everyone was order to vacate the building. I was watching Greg the entire time he was outside and these two persons were following him for a while. This is how OCAP operates . They attack anyone and everyone who THEY don’t like , even though they can’t prove so much as the time of day . OCAP are just parasites preying upon the weak and vulnerable persons , uses them until such time as they have a use for them and then, throw them away like unwanted trash once their use has expired.

      • Tamara Dippel on March 15, 2013 at 20:17
      • Reply

      Oh god… thanks again for helping Greg and be careful guys! This is sick! OCAP is corrupted :( Bloody hell :(

    • The Hammer on March 13, 2013 at 09:52
    • Reply

    Jenny Peto was there eh? She took time out of Israel Hate Week to attend this meeting. Shocking! OCAP is showing signs of desperation. Things have not been going their way at all and they are lashing out. More and more the public are seeing them for what they really are.

    1. So true- even for Lisa Schofield, partnering with Jenny Peto is a true sign of desperation…

  2. Yupp, Ms Peto was indeed there, spewing the usual hate this, hate that crap. It seems that O-CRAP hates just about anyone and everything which has living brain cells.

    • Reader on March 13, 2013 at 18:41
    • Reply

    I hear OCAP is getting funding for Stop The Cuts Toronto, headed by Jenny Peto, partner of paid OCAP organizer and Toronto Palestinian Film Festival’s organizing committee member Liisa Schofield (Sko), from CUPE and Social Planning Toronto which wants to prevent Toronto city cuts to the many nonprofit groups that have CUPE 1281 or another union or are Social Planning members.

    1. I’ll have to dig into that and see if I can find any evidence. If there’s corruption going on here it needs to be documented…

    • Almost an Activist on March 13, 2013 at 22:40
    • Reply

    I remember going to an event for the homeless at some church behind the Eaton Centre about 3 years ago held by the Toronto Disaster Committee.

    There a couple of speakers after the nurse and the last was Mark Brill of OCAP.

    Mark went on about some woman who heads up Street Health who Mark called a murderer who he said was responsible for a number of deaths each year because she cared about money and not Street Health. He said she must be stopped in any way possible to prevent more homeless deaths.

    A woman spoke up saying she was concerned about his language and that the previous month he had said the same thing and seemed to support a couple of people at that previous meeting who talked about getting revenge on the woman.

    Mark said he is a pacifist but it is not his place to tell people what to do.

    When she said he should not be condoning violence Mark accused her of being a police informant.

    When she protested that most of the people there knew her and knew she was “no informant” a person shouted from the crowd saying he knew she was a police informant. They I saw Mark turn his head to another part of the crowd and nod and another person started shouting “informer, informer, informer…..”

    The woman very hurredly left the church.

    It was the only “activist” event I ever attended and after seeing that display I am distrustful of the whole movement because nobody running the event spoke up only this one woman and she was clearly and very publicly denounced, for saying you can’t justify encouraging people to commit violence against others. He was even specific about what this woman has actually done to cause all these deaths Mark was accusing her of.

    1. Someone followed me around last week saying I was an informant, another was saying that I’m a cop. It was the same sort of vibe you’re talking about- I could tell it was a well-worn tactic. The problem is that most people see through this BS these days. And, thanks to the Internet, the word is getting out to more people every day…

  3. I am working non a story now about CUPE 1281 and its president Denise Hammond . CUPE 1281 and Hammond have a very interesting story, especially her connection to and with the Ryerson Student Union . You won’t want to miss this .

    1. Can’t wait to see it!

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