Tommy Taylor’s account “Arrested and Abused at the G-20” is frightening. Will it make any great difference to public perceptions ? I doubt it ! However, it is great that there is a coherent, cogent account of what happened.
I was involved with Sinn Fein here all the way from a street protest party excluded from power right through to seeing our party share Regional Government in the Northern part of Ireland and having a significant presence in the Southern Irish Parliament. I was also on the Party National Executive for most of a decade and have seen and made politics from the inside-out and top-down as well as street level up. Because of this, perhaps these comments may carry a little more weight.
1) While this mass citizen arrest took place during the summit meeting protests, it is obvious that far more is involved here than the mere optics of justifying costs. Anyone familiar with accounts of the round-up of citizens in Chile after the overthrow of the Allende Government there, and the imposition of a military dictatorship, can identify the parallels in the detention procedures.
2) The police cars abandoned for burning etc, the presence of large numbers of specially equipped forces apparently tasked for specific purposes, the transport, the prepared cages etc. indicates more than a reaction to a protest situation. Rather it points to a ‘dry run’ training exercise using the cover of the summit protest.
3) With regard to the cages and facilities provided, any low ranking Red Cross Administrator setting up a temporary facilities for holding a few hundred to a few thousand people would give immediate concern to water, food, sanitation and shelter and medical first aid in that order. It is not rocket science. The UN, every First World Government , the Red Cross and most large international Charitable Welfare Agencies have ready plans for these facilities. Most in fact use the similar standardized plans that had their genesis in post WW2 refugee camps.
4) The cages, the layout, the provision of cameras etc all indicate careful planning and preparation. Water was available as were disposable cups; it just was not issued in the amounts required. Basic food was available; it was deliberately withheld. The holding pens were secure, yet people were unnecessarily held in plastic or steel handcuffs even though these added little to the security factor.
5) Rationing toilet paper is another indication of what was afoot here as were the deliberate withholding of women’s specific sanitation needs. I remember decades ago, reading a translation from a CIA inspired manual used by the Shah of Iran’s forces where all these things came under the title ‘ Denigrating The Captives Self Esteem’ ! Nothing new in this treatment of young women, the same tactic was also used to attempt to demoralize and break women political prisoners in Armagh Jail during the early eighties.
6) This whole scenario as documented by Tommy seems geared to be a large-scale exercise using the availability of ‘protesting human resources’ for a mass arrest to access the psychological reaction of confined masses to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and denial of basic Civil Rights.
As such the Authorities will be accessing a) ease of arrest, b) docility during transport, c) acceptability of confinement, d) reaction to various deprivations , etc.
7) If this was a large scale, Government sanctioned experiment, then Taylor’s posting and others in Facebook etc will be a continuing part of the same exercise. In my experience, most will not protest or put themselves in harms way again. A few will cross the line and accept that violence against the authorities is necessary and the seasoned protesters will continue to protest with as much or as little impact as the protest giving rise to this has had.
8) No one individual or small group of individuals can effectively counter the deployment of State resources on the scale described. However, if a special grouping were formed with all that were arbitrarily arrested combining to bring a Legal Class Action against the Canadian State, for deliberate and wilful abuse of their freedoms, then this would immediately stymie this State activity and bring the Human Rights bulldozer to a standstill ! It could also be used to smoke out and expose the hidden hands and agencies involved in these things.
9) I have spend decades of my life fighting for Left Wing causes and I still do. However I have long reached the view that there is a far bigger picture and more vital battle now to be fought for Basic Human Rights and to checkmate the State Juggernauts, while people still have some freedom to act.
As an individual I did a hunger and thirst strike in jail against arbitrary arrest. I was in poor health at the time. After days of this I was placed on Hourly Hospital Watch and then released. I was never again re-arrested under this same act. Individuals are not powerless and neither are empowered class action groups as the Unites States experience has shown.
10) We, in the Western World, where human rights and progressive politics are concerned, are now where citizens were in early thirties Germany were. The time to act is finite and a Legal Class Action in Canada is as good a place as any other to start the checkmate to the State!