Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Police Target Hamilton Book Fair

This is ridiculous: The Hamilton police department is warning that the 2nd annual Hamilton Anarchist Book Fair is a potential source of hate crime. Criminalizing dissent is always bad, but there is something particularly cheeky about the police -- the armed fist employed by defenders of the status quo against land claims, struggles for racial and gender justice, actions by working people, and so much else -- accusing these social justice activists of conspiring to promote hatred.

Here is a media release from Common Cause, the group of platformist anarchists who are organizing the event:


Anarchists call Police report comparing activism to hate crime "chilling"

May 24, 2009

HAMILTON- Local members of the provincial anarchist organization Common Cause fear Hamilton police are seeking to criminalize local organizers after a Hamilton police report identified the 2nd annual Hamilton Anarchist Book Fair as a potential source of hate crime.

While presenting the Year-End Hate Crime report (available online) to the Hamilton Police Board on May 19, acting sergeant Michael Goch stated police would be “actively monitoring” the book fair scheduled to take place on June 6.

Alex Diceanu, Ontario Treasurer of Common Cause responded, "As the organizers of the annual book fair, and as local anarchists and activists, Common Cause is deeply disturbed by these statements.

"This is a manipulation of hate crime laws to criminalize activism. At this time of economic and environmental crisis, alongside increasing political disengagement, activism and educational events such as the book fair should be encouraged, not chilled with surveillance."

The report also identifies the 2010 G8 summit (Huntsville, ON), the 2010 Olympics, “local native land reclamation issues”, “the anarchist movement” and “anti-government and anti-establishment reaction of economic crisis and job losses” as trends and events that “may have significant impacts and repercussions on the Hamilton community in terms of hate/bias related incidents.”

For the first time the report also includes incidents of graffiti aimed at police even though this contradicts the report's own definition of a hate crime.

Diceanu commented, "We are concerned that public resources meant to investigate hate crimes are being focused upon people trying to improve this community."

The Hamilton Anarchist Book Fair is not a threat to the community.

It is open to the public and family-friendly, featuring free child care and a kid's workshop.

Over 300 people attended last year's book fair. Activists will gather again this year to exchange literature and other forms of information.

Workshops at the book fair attempt to address issues faced by marginalized groups named in hate crimes legislation, including indigenous peoples, racialized groups, people facing disability barriers and others. Other workshops address the the economic crisis, environmental justice and workplace organizing.

"Common Cause's Basic Policy states clearly that, and I quote, 'we actively oppose all manifestations of oppression such as racism, sexism, [religious] sectarianism and homophobia and we struggle against them.'

Indeed, anarchists have always sought to understand and end all forms of oppression in our struggle to create a world marked by true equality, freedom, peace, and harmony with the natural environment" says Diceanu ATTACHED PHOTO: A Hamiltonian with a disability talks with AJ Withers
a disability-rights activist with DAMN 2025 at the 2008 Hamilton anarchist book fair. Photo Credit: George Sweetman


thwap said...

Come on Scott, you KNOW that there's probably a book at that book fair that condemns the Israeli government's brutal policies.

And we all know that the only reason you would criticize say, an IDF soldier shooting a Palestinian school-girl in the back and getting exonerated by an investigation saying it was "self-defense," is because you're an anti-Semite.

In all seriousness, that report you quoted is one of the most chilling things I've read in a long time.

More to come, here or elsewheres.

Anonymous said...

Our press release received a positive response from some of the local media, not the main local paper (the Spectator) but from surrounding towns.

Here are the links.

Anarchists cry foul over police targeting of book fair. Monitoring seeks to criminalize political dissent, organizer says.

Hug a cop or be charged
By Hamilton Community News Editorial

Elisa said...

Very good article! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt some pearl-clutching conservative heard the word "Anarchist", promptly wet their pants, then ran screaming to their nearest right-wing enclave:

"OH NOES! They want to discuss IDEAS! Ideas that WE don't like to discuss! They want to talk about subjects which make us SLIGHTLY UNCOMFORTABLE! OH THE HUMANITY!"