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(en) Canada, Vancouver, BC. Squeegee Organizers Jailed

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 23 Oct 2003 09:36:30 +0200 (CEST)

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1.IWW Goes to City Hall
2.Squeegee Council Under Attack
3.Letter to City Council
Members from the IWW Squeegee Council and Buskers Union visited City Council
(Tues Oct.21) to challenge the police harassment of street youth. A
delegation walked into the Council Chamber during a Translink presentation.
All eyes quickly turned when two buskers began to
play the Wobbly classic ‘Power in a Union’ on the guitar and banjo.
Security tried to intervene somewhat passively as most Councillors were
smiling during the disruptive song. Distracted by the musicians security
couldn’t stop the delegation from handing out a letter (attached at bottom
of story) while others waved the Wobbly flag and the black and red Squeegee
Council banner. When the song ended the delegation left promptly saying
“end the war on the poor.”

In the lobby about two dozen people clapped. A Wobbly briefly spoke out
that the police were attacking and targeting street youth and it must stop.
A bystander said ‘I’ll vote for that.” As the delegation went down the
stairs they past by several security guards who were late to get up to
the action.

Three IWW squeegee kids ran into problems at the same liquor store that was
confronted last month for refusing to sell to squeegee kids. Although ‘X’
had paid for her beer another liquor store employee tried to stop the
transaction. Having paid already, with receipt in hand, X left the
store unwilling to put up with the discriminatory behavior of an employee
who was supposed to have been reprimanded (said the Store Manager to the
Squeegee Council).

The VPD arrived in force then stole X’s beer and squeegee. At that point
two more Squeegee Council members arrived, ‘Belle’ and ‘Blay’, bringing the
total to five. Belle produced a receipt for the squeegee’s and their union
cards. The IWW paid for squeegee’s precisely so the cops would not steal
them, this had been previously successful with the VPD. This time officer
1918 ripped up the receipt and union card. When Blay tried to take his
union membership back he was punched in the face twice then put in one of
two paddy wagons.

Officer 2055 threatened to charge Belle with resisting arrest. Despite the
fact the Belle is pregnant the police were being rough with her putting her
in the other paddy wagon. Belle returned the favor by spitting in the
undercover’s face. The VPD drove Belle to the police station than let her
go free uncharged. They did not let Blay and X go free, nearly 24 hours
later they are still in jail. The police had been heard taunting X about
belonging to the union.

During the altercation another squeegee kid pushed a police officer in self
defence, then was immediately jumped on by three more cops throwing him to
the ground. During that fray the VPD pepper sprayed his dog as well as
someone else’s for daring to growl when their human friend was being
assaulted. A VPD officer warned that squeegee youth that they would arrest
him whenever they saw him downtown.

The VPD felt that they needed two paddy wagons, 2 undercover cops, 3 women
officers and about 6 male to deal with the problem of squeegee kids
acquiring beer through perfectly legitimate ways. Currently two comrades
remain in jail, while another was given a ticket for jaywalking by officer
1918. We do not expect that the photographs from the OCT 10th Mass
Squeegee will be returned to us as they were in Blay’s backpack. The VPD
instigated this event to further the climate of fear youth who are
organizing are living under.

The Squeegee Council calls out for allies in the community to support our
struggle. Add officers 2055, 1918, and 1200 to your list of dangerous and
violent offenders against street youth, along with 1507 ‘Anderson’ who heads
up the ‘Anti-Squeegee Project’. Be aware the paddy wagon 7191 BT has been
used to terrorize homeless youth. Was this retaliation because the IWW
dared to go to City Hall and sing a nice song for the Mayor? Perhaps next
time the Squeegee Council will do more than sing.


OCTOBER 21st 2003
re: aggressive panhandling bylaws

In 1999 the Ontario Provincial Tory government passed the ‘SAFE STREETS ACT’
which promised to deal with the epidemic of what was called aggressive
panhandling. The 21.6% cut to welfare and other social program slashes led
to an epidemic in poverty. The media claimed that the Safe Streets Act
would deal only with panhandlers/squeegee workers who were aggressive,
but that was clearly not the case. The Metro Toronto Police gave out
thousands of Safe Streets Act tickets. Before any major event the cops would
sweep the streets throwing anyone with unpaid fines in jail. The Safe
Streets Act was a vicious attempt to drive the poor out of the
public eye in Toronto, and had little to do with ending ‘aggression’.

The IWW Squeegee Council is very concerned at the striking similarity
between the Ontario situation and what is unfolding in BC. Ie. Mass
poverty, welfare cuts, institutionalized homelessness. Like in Toronto the
corporate media claims that a law needs to be made to crackdown on
aggressive panhandlers. However the Vancouver Police Department needs no
new laws to attack street youth, they are doing this already as previously
mandated by ticketing squeegee kids for jaywalking and soliciting business
on the road etc.. The VPD have not been able to clearly identify which
panhandlers are aggressive and which are not. The VPD are already giving
all squeegee kids $86 tickets and many of them have ended up in jail.
Squeegee’s are routinely stolen. Officer 1507 Anderson has a personal
crusade that’s called ‘the Anti-Squeegee Project’ which includes court
dates, tickets, brutal release conditions and driving his motorcycle on the
sidewalk to chase kids. The Anti-Squeegee Project consists of identifying,
targeting and arresting squeegee ‘offenders’. The VPD have physically
beaten an unidentifiable number of squeegee kids, and now taken to harassing
buskers. A law regarding aggressive panhandling gives the VPD the choice of
determining who is ‘aggressive’ and who is not based
on their own hatred and bigotry.

Does the City of Vancouver will to deal with the impending poverty crisis
created at the provincial level by jailing homeless and poor people? If
people cannot access welfare or housing they will have only two choices for
survival. They will either make money on the street by squeegeeing,
panhandling, busking, by sex trade and flea marketing, or their other option
is to get into criminal offences which are much more dangerous.

-That no law be passed against ‘aggressive panhandling’ including
panhandlers, buskers, squeegee kids and flea marketers. We know that such
laws will equally harass polite panhandlers, the intention of this law is
not to target people who are truly aggressive at all.
-That the VPD end the ‘Anti-Squeegee Project’ immediately.

From: Garlic Bobcat <streetpoet77-A-hotmail.com>

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