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(en) Canada, Toronto, Report on OCAP Gatekeeper Squat Victory from Arrested Trade Unionist

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 10 Nov 2003 17:24:07 +0100 (CET)

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Note: The one other arrested person is a member of the Steelworkers. In
total four people, all trade union members, were arrested yesterday.
Originally From: "Alex Levant" <alevant-A-yorku.ca>
40 members of CUPE 3903 were among the 500 people who participated in the
victorious march and occupation of an abandoned building at 558 Gerrard St.
E., securing its conversion into social housing. The action was a victory
on two counts: in addition to transforming an empty building into social
housing, demonstrators forced the state to respond politically by
negotiating with the demonstrators instead of unleashing its uniformed
goons. Unequal and inhumane distribution of housing is a political issue
that politicians should address through negotiation and dialogue rather than
through police violence on unarmed civilians, and this victory should be
recognized as a breakthrough in that regard.

Unfortunately, prior to the beginning of negotiations several of our members
were assaulted by police with various degrees of severity. The police
proceeded to further assault us by arresting 3 of our members, strip
searching us, holding us in jail, and charging US with assaulting police!
This gross abuse of authority is yet another example that demonstrates that
the police force is out of control in this city. Without any semblance of
accountability or evenhandedness, Toronto Police behaved like hired thugs
protecting an empty building from homeless people.

CUPE's participation in the demonstration is a textbook example of social
movement unionism. CUPE 3903 has a long history of fighting for social
justice beyond our immediate economic interests. This activism is not
motivated by charity, but by the conviction that as a labour union our
struggle with our employer is inextricably intertwined with all struggles
against every form of oppression. Accordingly, in addition to bargaining
our own collective agreements we picket alongside striking workers, fight
for housing for everyone, and help defend against the brutal attack on
immigrants and refugees. Recognizing that arresting activists is a tactic
used by the state to intimidate and silence us, CUPE National has a legal
defense fund that assists arrested members. Additionally, CUPE 3903 helps
cover arrest-related expenses.

Thanks to OCAP for organizing another successful action!

In Solidarity,

Alex Levant
CUPE 3903

P.S. Please see OCAP's report below for a detailed account of the


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