Archive for Police

Defend Our Coast, Effective Protest? Perhaps Not. Lets Talk About It

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Justice, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2012 by animal_static

This is my third post regarding the Defend Our Coast action that took place this past October in Victoria BC.  Time is a funny beast and when it gets mixed up with our notoriously fickle human brains there is a tendency to produce nostalgia or arbitrary associations with past events.  So lets recap shall we?

Very briefly,  the Defend Our Coast event was a direct action located on the legislature grounds in Victoria B.C. with the intention of giving voice to the many people who are directly opposed to the expansion of the oil and gas industry in Canada and more particularly in B.C.  Criticisms were most directly aimed at corporate and fed/prov. governments who are engaging in some pillow talk on how to best get the much contested Enbridge pipeline project put in place.  There were a number of concerns put forward including health for the present and future generations, political corruption, first nations rights, environmental issues, and several other talking points.  The direct action which included “the possibility of arrest” involved the staking of a black fabric picket the length of an oil tanker (235 meters if I am not mistaken) on the legislature grounds.  The arrestability of this seeming offense is up in the air at this point with organizers citing laws prohibiting the erection of such a structure and questioned police not really being aware of such a law.  So what we are left with is the suspicion of some publicity generation on the part of the organizers though we can’t really speak to the intentionality of this action at this point.  The end result was no arrests on the ground though the police have been reported for poaching off site protesters in such a way as to infringe on search and seizure rights mentioned in the earlier posts.  No one really expects much else from the police do they?  Nothing shocking here.

There is some valid criticism out there that this was a largely symbolic event which is often the case when this kind of action is lead by environmental NGO’s.  Well actually, there is always an open possibility for good intentions to translate into a lot of shouting and back patting with little actual “action” no matter who runs the show.  I was talking to someone about this who made the valid point that events like this are the bread and butter for NGO’s who success if often linked to the visibility of their profile and the number of supporters they can claim.  An event like the one that we were just talking about had thousands of physical participants and thousands more virtual supporters and managed to make newspapers, TV news programs and social media buzz for several days.  Impressive stuff by any standard and a home run for involved parties, but did anything tangible come out of it?

The reason for this post is that there is a D.O.C. reflection event coming up on Tuesday, November 6th which will feature a variety of panelists who are going to weigh in with their thoughts on the effectiveness of the event in general and some of the pitfalls that accompany event organizing.  Should be interesting and it can never hurt to be critical of your protesting soul.  Self reflection and critical analysis are crucial components to weighing the worth of social actions.  Click on the above poster for the event info. If there is a pod cast I will be sure to post it.

It is only Monday and it usually takes me all week to decided on blog content but my pessimistic crystal ball tells me that my next post will contain my complaints about the upcoming American election which is sure to end in tragedy no matter who wins.

Comments and sharing are always welcome

AnimalStatic

A Photo Report of the Defend Our Coast Event. Victoria BC. October 22, 2012

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, Law, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by animal_static

So the Defend Our Coast Action that I blogged about yesterday went off without a hitch today.  There was a great turnout of 3000 plus people, with a strong media presence (which can be good or bad), a reasonable police presence, and a whole slew of inspirational speakers.  The crowd is always the make or break factor in events like this.  Arrests, drugs, and violence basically make the whole effort a media write off but today was very peaceful and the act of civil disobedience went unchallenged by police.  To my knowledge there were no arrests at all at this event.  Some very irate drivers who were rerouted around the site but no arrests

We were lucky enough to be presented with a varied selection of powerful and concerned voices.  First Nations leaders from multiple provinces were present today, paying respect to the  Songhees Nation for allowing the flying of the flags of protest on their territory and providing us with powerful first hand accounts of the effects of oil production in Canada.  This was not merely a descriptive endeavor however but also a call to fight.  It was widely noted that we need to fight the present corruption of a government who are in bed with big oil to secure a livable world for future generations.  To paraphrase one speaker, “We are fighting for our childrens future and though the politicians and CEO’s don’t know it we are fighting for their childrens futures too!”

There were some incendiary political challenges to BC premier Christy Clark and Stephen Harper today as well, most notably the challenges from Green Party leader Elizabeth May to the willingness of Clark and Harper to sell the future of tomorrow for a dollar today.  Another First Nations leader also had something to say about the price tag of this project stating that their complaints to Enbridge about the this pipeline were responded to with, “here, have some money” and when complaints were then taken to the government, the result was …”here, have some money”.  Todays challenge loudly stated that you cannot throw money at us and make it all go away.  The message today was the demands of a group of people who have been pushed too far, and too often disregarded in the pursuit of profit.  BC is not for sale.  Canada is not for sale.

I just left this message for Premier Clark.  Not expecting a reply:

Other people are writing about this event with more grace than I can muster at the moment so I will conclude here and present you with a selection of the photos that I took today.

Congratulations to everyone who made it out today and braved the rain.  Special acknowledgement to all those who had to travel from out of town to make the event.  That’s dedication.  I hope everyone took some inspiration home with them today which wont wear off by the weekend.  There are many avenues available to affect positive change.  Lets explore some!

Comments and sharing are always welcome,

AnimalStatic

Some Thoughts About Tomorrows Defend Our Coast Action, Victoria BC

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, Law, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by animal_static

Life is busy business when you try to balance school and reality (not synonymous).  It has been a couple of weeks since my last post but there is something interesting happening tomorrow that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  The Defend Our Coast, anti-pipeline event is happening October 22 (tomorrow) in Victoria BC.  Very basically, this is a protest to collectively speak out against the looming Enbridge oil pipeline that is looking to link Alberta oil to the Asian market via a line that will span the province of British Columbia and will see increased tanker traffic in a very fragile and very risky shipping route on our beautiful coast.

Image from rabble.ca

I fully support the anti-pipeline message but do have a few concerns around this particular event.  The most prominent criticism would probably be what comes across as a somewhat Eco-centric (nature centred) standpoint with the bulk of project criticisms revolving around environmental concerns.  Spills, climate change, habitat, forests…all that stuff.  These are obviously valid concerns but, to continue the metaphor, it is unfortunate that crucial social concerns often take a back seat when environmental NGO’s get behind the wheel.  If you are out tomorrow or supporting in spirit or text, please remember the voices that are silenced or under represented in events like this.  If there is any population that will suffer negative effects of industrial expansion, legal reform, or environmental degradation, historical statistics tell that it will be Canadian First Nations before any other.  First Nations communities shoulder the brunt of industrial fallout, feel it first,  and will suffer longer than other groups.  Here is where the silencing aspect comes in.  Critics of this statement will cite first nations involvement in the event and thus claim representation.  This is true but hardly a complete view on the matter.  Engagement of the government in the context of this event is to validate the system producing initial inequalities and therefore inadequate to address the colonial oppression that is embedded in our legal system.  Just a thought.

Also,  there is a LOT of attention around the potential arrest of participants in this event.  My advice is do not get yourself arrested at this event.  I am not against legal defiance of this sort and see the value of the statement that it makes in certain situations but I personally don’t feel that this is one of those occasions.  It needs to be considered that protests on legislature grounds are largely symbolic.  You have a right to peaceful assembly and you can do this at legislature under law but your arrest here will only fatten police coffers.  There are big wheels rolling on this pipeline project and your arrest is hardly likely to sway anyone.  The public already supports you and the government will do what it will do.  The current BC premier is a weak one and the liberal party needs your votes, you can rest assured that she is already listening to you.  Finally,  there is something wicked cooking in Ottawa right now that if passed will render useless any recent anti oil actions.  The upcoming Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) was signed overseas, quietly tabled without a public release and will, if unchallenged, pass into law on Nov 1.  If this happens, the doors will be open for the potential sale of Alberta based, Nexen Oil to the Chinese corp, CNOOC.  The wording of the agreement allows for corporations to take the provincial or federal governments to court should they undertake actions that impede corporate profits.  No pipeline equals loss of profit which equals financial cost to the offending governments which always means that your voice doesn’t matter any longer.  This is really important and very lacking in the language of this event.  Something to think about if you are considering crossing any police lines tomorrow.

Finally, BE AWARE OF YOUR RIGHTS.  Police are manipulative, will take advantage or your ignorance and WILL infringe upon your rights.

You have the right to peaceful assembly.  The legislature is a  public space.  Use it don’t abuse it.

You have the right to remain silent though you do need to identify yourself upon arrest.

You have the right to be free from search and seizure.  If you are not under arrest, committing a crime, or suspected of committing a crime, you do not have to let police search your bags.  They will try to make this seem to be otherwise but this is indeed your right.  Don’t take off your bag, gesture to your bag, or verbally engage in consenting language.  I personally would stick on this one as a matter of principle.  Be polite about this though or you are going to pay for it.  A “f*ck you pig” will result in a breach of peace offense or something worse.

Finally, you do have the right to photograph or record in a public space.  Police will often tell you to stop.  You don’t have to and please don’t.  People needs records of events and misconduct.  That said, if you are in a cops face when they are arresting someone or otherwise trying to perform their duties, you are obstructing.  This will get you into loads of trouble.  Use your head please.

My next entry will regale you with tales of conflict and courage as they unravel under the lens of my trusty camera at tomorrows event which promises to be very exciting.

here is the link to the FIPA (legalese):  http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/fipa-apie/index.aspx?view=d

Defend Our Coast page:  http://defendourcoast.ca/

Comments and sharing are always welcome,

AnimalStatic

Homelessness and the Troubles of Moving From NIMBY to YIMBY.

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Politics, Security, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by animal_static

I think about homelessness a lot.  What it is and how it comes to be.  Social circumstance, mental health issues, domestic abuse, unaffordable housing, economic downturns; These are all elements that non-exclusively contribute to what is largely viewed as a homeless blight on our urban (and rural)  neighbourhoods but would be better regarded as a failing from a society bent on individualistic consumer goals.  Our North American existence is set against a  backdrop of government budget cuts and a Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) philosophy based on aesthetics and fear. Homelessness is criminalized and sensationalized, effectively stripping the humanity from street populations.

Homelessness is painted with a broad brush and most people misunderstand the true scope of what it means to be without a home.  It’s not just about physical bodies occupying physical space in our city streets.  The lack of tangible shelter creates an emotional vacuum and replaces well-being with fear  and certainty with uncertainty. A stable place to rest ones head  instills confidence and a sense of security but the lack of said shelter exacerbates a wide range of problems for a demographic that is already harassed by poorly trained police forces, thwarted by municipal and provincial policies, unable to predict and plan for mundane aspects of daily life that most of us take for granted, and shunned by the majority of the population.

When we think about homelessness we think about single individuals begging for our money at inopportune times (man those shopping bags are heavy), block our paths downtown, are visibly intoxicated, and OBVIOUSLY making no contribution to our city living minus the added threat of dirty needles and something extra to step over on our way to work in the morning.  What is the reality?  The reality is that well-paying jobs are hard to come by in the post recession economy and wages have not kept up to inflation.  Housing on the west coast is really expensive, and competition for vacancies is high as municipally supported housing developments absolutely do not cater to affordable housing.  What emerges is an impoverished working class that hold down jobs but do no make enough money to maintain a fixed address.  Here on the west coast we see entire families that couch serf for indefinite periods of time.  The kids go to school and the parents go to work while having no real sense of home.  These folks are known as the “hidden homeless”.

Image from The Guardian

The effects of the cuts to the healthcare budget under the Gordon Campbell Liberal government are also worth noting.  The nutshell;  Cuts were made, facilities were shut down with no provisions for made for the added strain on standard health care provision.  What resulted is an increase in subsidized housing for mental health patients in standard rental complexes, which creates its own unique set of problems, and a whole bunch of people with no place to go and no way to integrate into the work place.

Whats the solution?

Everyone has an opinion, few act on them and so far no one has successfully come up with a plan to attack the problem.  It is a difficult task and one that is fraught with ethical problems.  Shelters are good, safe injection sites are good, education is good, and safe communal sleeping spaces are good but the idea of tackling a seemingly unsolvable problem is daunting.

Image from Woodwynn website

Woodwynn Farm located near Victoria BC has taken an innovative approach to regional homelessness where on site housing is provided for eligible candidates and residents engage in various aspects of farm life, building skill sets and ideally a sense of confidence that facilitates  participation in the regular workplace.  While this project is in danger of being labelled as paternal libertarianism I can understand its ideals and applaud any constructive effort to help people work through the vast array of problems that made them candidates for this program in the first place.  Woodwynn acknowledges that there is no “cure-all” that works for everyone but notes that there have been success stories and that makes it worth the effort.  Sadly, Woodwynn is embattled against its local municipality who seem determined to dismantle the existing camp which would obviously negate any future programs if they are successful.  Kudos are to be given to Woodwynn as they have openly stated that they will not be disassembling the camp any time soon.  Civil disobedience in the face of misguided authority is a beautiful thing.

Check out Woodwynn Farms here:  http://woodwynnfarms.org/

Comments are always welcome

Animal Static

Share Inspiration as You Find It.

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Food For Thought, Politics, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2012 by animal_static

I meant to drop a new post about a great book that I just finished reading and I was going to say all kinds of great things about it and it was going to be awesome…..but I kind of dropped the ball.  The work week was over, the sun was shining and the universe lured me away from the blog world and and other assorted social media. I ended up on my motorcycle and one thing lead to another. Before I knew it I had landed smack in the middle of a beautiful beach bordering the majestic and mighty Pacific Ocean.  Next week for sure.

While I haven’t followed the plan that I had set for myself this weekend I did, of course, dedicate some of my hard-won free time to trolling the internet for some novel finds.  I think I was pursuing some Anti-Olympic protest footage when I came across a killer video which features “Loukanikos” (translates from Greek into Sausage) who is also known as “Riot Dog”.  As the footage will show you, this dog is a walking, barking, hero meme who has apparently been present at various Greek protests over the last few years.  The footage in this particular video is from the anti IMF, EU riots of 2011.

Coming from Canada which is known for political apathy (not you Quebec) I always find that a good anti government protest video serves to lift the spirits. I also think that it is amazing that this apparently stray dog always seems to find his way to the right side of the police line, taking the beatings and tear gas and being a presence that obviously inspires those willing to stand up to their government and its police gang.  It also doesn’t hurt that the accompanying track, “Do Anything You Wanna Do”, by Eddie and the Hot Rods circa 1977 is a positively uplifting anti-establishment song.  For me the combination is a winner and I hope you enjoy it.

Comments and sharing would be great.
-AnimalStatic

Cellular Phones, Convenient Communication and Your Invisible Leash.

Posted in Activism, Apps, Food For Thought, Politics, Privacy, Security, Society, Surveillance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2012 by animal_static

Thinking about taking your cell with you to the next direct action or mass civil disobedience event?  Please reconsider.

The following article from Peter Maas and Megha Rajagopalan at ProPublica entitled, “That’s No Phone, That’s My Tracker“, provides an effective warning about how your cell phone is now better considered as your personal tracking device and that to continue regarding this device as your ‘phone’ might be a touch….simple.  One professor referenced in the article goes so far as consider them as robots which take in and communicate with the world with us (owners) acting as a vehicle for the device.  These robots log and store a LOT of potentially sensitive information.  Location, activity, communications, preferences, and travel patterns are all stored and surrendered to various agencies with an increasing frequency that SHOULD be making you squirm.

Rather than republishing the article I am providing a direct link to the original ProPublica content here:

http://www.propublica.org/article/thats-no-phone.-thats-my-tracker

The average persons social reporting or activities are not likely to land them in jail or have the eye of the government look twice (No bragging about your tax evasion, or Terabyte Pirate Bay exploits now), but do you really want to be a willing accomplice to the “frictionless” accumulation of your personal information?  The eerie feeling that you are being watched (you really are being watched), will be eased by a corporate salve of streamlined advertising and a slew of new apps designed to keep your head down.  With releases like “Turf Wars” via itunes, Companies like Apple aren’t even trying to hide this application of your device anymore.  Making a game of tracking your location? Scary stuff.  An informal statistic that I located on a user forum for this game stated that roughly a year ago there were 4.2 million accounts with 1.8 million active users.  That is a LOT of information.

Jean-Paul Sartre philosophized that we only becomes aware of ourselves when subjected to the gaze of another.  With this many eyes around you could easily visualize a hyper paranoid populace too uncomfortable in their own skins to function socially rather than the eager igeneration waiting for the next Foursquare or Angry Birds experience.

Please be aware and safe with your information.

For the sake of being thorough here are the links regarding  GPS gaming example:

Turf Wars via itunes,

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/turf-wars/id332185049?mt=8

User stats for Turf Wars,

http://turfwarsapp.com/forum/267/topic/50305515/

Please comment, critique, and share.

-AnimalStatic