Swamp the Courts! Enviro activists gather for court support, Ezra Levant silliness and police brutality ensues
Today was quite eventful for anti-line 9 activists in Hamilton, Ontario. During the eviction of Swamp Line 9 many people were arrested and charged with mischief, trespassing and breaking and entering. Today was the first court appearance for some of these folks, and activists from across southern Ontario gathered in Hamilton to show support for them and protest the controversial Enbridge pipeline reversal that would ship tar sands diluted bitumen from Alberta.
At about 11am we gathered at the bus terminal downtown with friends, signs, drums…and Ezra Levant. Yes, our favorite right wing media nutjob Ezra Levant showed up and tried to interview the protestors about why we don’t support the pipeline, if we care about “freedom” and if we have ever protested Saudi oil. With all due respect, even by the lowest possible standards, this man is a terrible reporter. Most activists agreed not to talk to Sun Media as they have a reputation for distorting statements, putting words in people’s mouths and doing everything in their power to discredit anyone who even questions neoliberalism. Essentially, Ezra tries to make asses out of people by personally attacking those involved in social movements rather than giving constructive criticism, and in turn makes an ass of himself and his network. Good job, Ezra! Anyway, I personally chose not to talk to him at first, and had the pleasure of telling him to fuck off when he kept harassing me after not taking “no” for an answer. We marched to the courthouse with him following, and when we got there he just kept going at it…harassing people, following them around when he was told to leave them alone, and commenting on how great the pipeline is. Eventually, I got fed up and said “Ezra, let’s have a conversation. What do we do when the pipeline breaks? How are we going to deal with the environmental and community impact?” I was completely respectful, as I really did want to hear his answer. But of course, he dodged my question completely and just talked over me, asking me about Saudi oil and if I have ever protested it. At that point it was just us yelling at each other, because even when I tried to answer him he wouldn’t let me speak. At one point Ezra even accused Mike of being my “boss” because when it got heated he reminded me who I was attempting to talk with and I agreed to not waste my time anymore.
So here it is Ezra, since you wouldn’t listen to me in person maybe you’ll take the time to read my answer. I am against the oil-dependent economy, and the co-dependency of social and environmental destruction with this economy. I fully understand, and I believe that I tackled this a bit in an earlier post, that oil companies provide jobs for people and these jobs are necessary for these workers to put food on their table. I get it. However, does this justify harm to the planet, to ecosystems, to First Nations communities, to any community? There is something seriously messed up with the system if you have to choose to survive or to cause harm. I’m sure you heard what happened with Kalamazoo in 2010. Line 9 is made of the same material as line 6B, and diluted bitumen is much more abrasive and viscous than regular crude oil. This means that it has to be mixed with a condensate to make it flow, and the Kalamazoo spill proved that these pipelines cannot handle diluted bitumen. Ezra, and others reading this, it isn’t a matter of IF the pipeline will rupture but a matter of WHEN and WHERE and HOW communities impacted by it will cope. In fact, because we are all biologically, chemically and atomically connected, if one ecosystem is negatively impacted then that basically means the whole world is or will be thrown off balance. The kalamazoo river is still dealing with the harmful consequences of line 6B. So tell me, Ezra, for I am dying to hear your answer…what do we do when this happens?
We went into the court house around 1:30, and before then we saw a couple of our Hamilton friends get served tickets for blocking traffic during the march. Seriously? There must have been at least 40-50 people in the march (that’s a very rough estimate) so clearly the police just picked a handful of people they recognized after the fact. Also, we found it odd that the police wrote down our names and birth dates before they let us in the court house. I’ve never had that happen before. About half an hour to an hour in, a female activist (I’m not sure if she’s okay with me saying her name so I won’t) was escorted out of the courtroom by two male police officers and locked in a small room after apparently being disruptive (I personally didn’t notice anything). People then started chanting outside of the court room, “let her out!”. Eventually those of us still in the courtroom left and joined, because this is completely unbelievable and unacceptable for obvious reasons. I mean, if she was causing that much trouble, couldn’t they have given her a warning or just kicked her out of the building? That’s what happened to me actually, because when we were gathered outside of the courtroom a male police officer started shoving a woman in front of me. She asked him to stop and he wouldn’t, and was being very disrespectful towards her. That’s when I jumped in and told him not to touch someone without their consent, he said something nasty to me and kept doing it, and I then more aggressively told him to stop…I believe I said something along the lines of “stop that, you don’t fucking touch someone without their consent, asshole!”. I was then escorted out of the building and my friends and partner followed.
It seems as though telling off that police officer was what saved my friends, my partner and myself from getting arrested, because as soon as we got outside more people came out and said that about 8 had been arrested inside the courthouse…and violently too. Police cars started showing up and there was a heavy police presence out front. We will try to update on this accordingly, but we don’t have much information right now. Here is the latest media statement from our Swamp Line 9 sisters and brothers:
AUGUST 14, 2013
BREAKING NEWS: 8 PROTESTERS ARRESTED INSIDE HAMILTON COURT HOUSE
CONTACT: 1-226- 203 3034
(Hamilton, ON) — This afternoon Hamilton Police arrested 8 individuals at the Hamilton Court House, in the midst of the Swamp Line 9 Trespassing Hearing.
Many friends and allies attended the trespassing hearing, offering support to those arrested and charged on June 26th at the Swamp Line 9 Blockade, a blockade of Enbridge’s Westover site. Activists had been occupying an Enbridge pumping station north of Hamilton, Ontario. 18 protestors were arrested at the blockade, 13 of whom were on trial today. This action, dubbed Swamp Line 9, was aimed to prevent construction on Line 9 and block the transport of Tar Sands through Ontario and Quebec. This action is also part of the Idle No More campaign Sovereignty Summer.
During the hearing, supporters were applauding in a show of solidarity for their comrades on trial. After being told by the Judge to ‘stop clapping or everyone will be asked to leave the court room’, after awhile some supporters continued by snapping their fingers. Immediately following this, one female supporter was asked to leave for disrupting court. She was then removed from the courtroom, handcuffed, and taken into a “prosecution room” alone with two male officers. Protesters and supporters, concerned about her safety and well being, demanded she be released. Over 30 individuals crowded outside of the holding room chanting ‘Let Her Go!’ With almost as many police officers as protestors, the space erupted quickly. While cops began physically moving individuals and yelling threats, protestors began chanting ‘Cops, Pigs, Murderers!’ The police proceeded to mass arrest all those chanting or who wouldn’t clear the space immediately, citing the “public works protection act” (a law that was previously invoked in the arrest of over 1,000 people during the Toronto G20 protests) .
Currently 8 individuals have been arrested and are being held at the Hamilton Court House. Many of the officers employed pain compliance techniques to subdue those who were arrested. Onlookers watched horrified as protestors and supporters were thrown to the ground, dragged along the floor, shoved into walls, and kicked. The aggressive police response reveals an escalation in state violence directed at activists and land defenders.
News is developing. Stay posted for more information.
Press Statement on Injunction, June 25: http://swampline9.tumblr.com/post/53851715699/swamp-line-9-press-conference-statement
Media Advisory on Injunction: http://swampline9.tumblr.com/post/53838872671/swamp-line-9-locks-down-and-rallies-after-receiving
Solidarity Action in Support of Line 9: https://www.facebook.com/notes/swamp-line-9/update-swampline9-continues-support-actions-in-13-cities-sovsummer/191416174354528
To all of the people facing charges from Swamp Line 9 as well as today, thank you for your strength and courage. Your committment is admirable and inspiring. Remember to let your comrades know what we can do to support you! And the line 9 saga continues…
In love and solidarity,