Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Last July 21 11 members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) were arrested at a demonstration at the Liberal Party headquarters in Toronto. The cases are now coming to court, and OCAP is asking for solidarity with its members. Here's the story and appeal>>>
2 Events to support OCAP Arrestees
-This Thursday court support, Fundraiser This Saturday,
Please See Below
**We would like to also add - that court dates are also coming up for G20 arrests - info about that will be sent out as soon as we have it
Court Support for Anne and Lenny:
Thursday, August 19th, 9 AM @Old City Hall (60 Queen St. W)
Rally @ Attorney General’s (720 Bay St.):
Monday, August 30th, 9AM

On July 21, during an OCAP rally against the McGuinty Government's cutting of the Special Diet, eleven OCAP members and supporters walked into the offices of the Liberal Party to deliver an 'invoice' outlining how much money is owed to poor people on assistance in this Province. They went to a window, put out a banner and addressed the crowd outside. Police soon arrived and, rather than issue warnings and provide any opportunity for the protesters to leave, they handcuffed them, announced they were under arrest for trespass and that they would be taken to the 52 Division.

One of the people who entered the office, Anne Abbott, uses a wheelchair and had her communication assistant with her, Lenny Olin. Clearly at a loss over how to deal with a disabled person, the police declared their intention to arrest Lenny and 'drop Anne off at a hospital'. When this was obviously strongly objected to by Anne, they decided to give them both summonses to appear in court for trespass and, eventually, released them. In the wake of the G20, where a deaf man was arrested and denied access to an ASL interpreter on the grounds that 'he can read our lips', this episode points to the shocking level of ableism that exists amongst the Police in the City of Toronto.

The remaining nine people were taken to 52 Division. As they were loaded into the police wagon, they were told that the charge was being elevated to mischief. At that point, 'the arresting officers' assumed that the group would be released from the station. At 52, however, detectives informed them that the charge of forcible entry was being added and that everyone would be held overnight because each accused person would need to line up a surety to put up money for them. After more than 24 hours, everyone was released from the courthouse. Only through the efforts of lawyer, Mike Leitold, were we able to prevent massively restrictive bail conditions being imposed.

These charges are a sign of the times. The massive police operation around the G20 was not an isolated development. They are ready for resistance to social cutbacks and austerity and want to silence it. A matter that the cops would have previously dealt with by asking the participants to leave is now the basis for criminal charges that carry two year jail terms.

While one of the ironic expressions of the ableism Anne faced is that she and Lenny are not facing such serious charges, their situation is not at all trivial. The fact that the cops used summonses on them means they run the risk of having serious and restrictive conditions imposed on them if they are convicted.

All eleven people charged will soon make court appearances to set dates for trial. However, the Crown Attorney's office and the Attorney General of Ontario can’t be allowed to drag this matter out and have these severe and ridiculous charges hang over the accused for months still to come. We demand that they be dropped now.

Anne and Lenny have to appear in Old City Hall on Thursday, August 19 at 9.00 AM. The injustices that flow from the treatment Anne and Lenny received are best demonstrated in their own words.
"I was truly horrified by the ableist attitudes and actions of the police. First they separated me from my communication assistant, which is against the human rights code. When I objected and indicated that I needed my assistant, they told me "don't worry, we will put you in a hospital." They questioned everybody except me, and I felt they thought I was incapable of giving any valid information. With the examples of the abuse on disabled people during the g20 and my recent experience, it's obvious that ableism is running rampant through the Toronto police."
"The police made it obvious that they don't even think of disabled people as human beings. We were there to draw attention to a provincial government that doesn't think that people deserve to be able to eat, and they responded with harassment and threats that were very blatantly ableist. We will continue to fight together for the rights of all people to live a life free of state violence and harassment, and to live a life where our basic human needs are met."

The other nine defendants are to appear at College Park at 10.00 AM on August 30. However, on behalf of all those facing charges, a rally will beheld at the Attorney General’s office at 9.00 AM to oppose the criminalization of social mobilization and to demand the dropping of these charges.

The threat of jail won’t stop the fight to defend the Special Diet or to oppose other austerity measures. We’ll defend those they try to criminalize and the struggle will continue regardless of their attempts to intimidate and silence it.
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
2. Please join us at a fundraiser hosted by the Latin Solidarity Network and Barrio Nuevo, in support of Ilian Burbano and the 11 Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) activists/allies arrested for peacefully protesting cuts to the Special Diet benefit by the McGuinty provincial government.

Express your solidarity and acknowledge the valuable efforts of these activists to serve the community and to further social justice.
August 21, 2010
Live music, spoken word, dj's
Location: 22 Wenderly Drive, Toronto

If you can not attend the event and would still like to donate, please click below.

Cheques can be made in the name of: CUPE Local 3393 and mailed to:
Att: Judi Snively
CUPE Local 3393 co-president
248 Ossington Ave.
Toronto, ON, M6J 3A2
Indicate "Ilian Burbano legal defence fund" in memo line

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


On Nov 4 the Crown Attorney's Office finally faced reality and dropped charges of mischief and forcible entry against nine members and supporters of OCAP. These politically motivated charges were laid by the pigs on July 21 after a peaceful OCAP delegation went into the Liberal offices, hung a banner out of the window and addressed a crowd that had gathered outside to resist the cut to the Special Diet and demand the raising of welfare and disability rates.

There are now no ongoing conditions or criminal records for the nine to deal with, although the Crown sought to save face by insisting on each person making a small charitable donation under their system of 'diversion'.

Each of those accused had to line up a surety to put up money and vouch for them, were subjected to strip searches and were locked up over a period spanning two days before a judge ordered their release. Bail conditions placed limits on the right to free speech.

The Crown sought much more serious restrictions that were beaten back by our lawyer, Mike Leitold with the generous support of Toronto area Legal Aid Ontario clinics. We all owe a huge round of thanks for Mike's skillful and dedicated efforts on our behalf from the day we were charged through to the end.

Shamefully, two of the delegation to the Liberal offices, Anne and Lenny, are still facing trespass charges and it will be nothing short of disgusting if these are not dropped without delay. Anne, is a member of OCAP who drives a wheelchair and uses a communication board via an assistant to express herself fully. Because the cops are ableist and lack respect for disabled people or any understanding of their issues, Anne and her assistant were dealt with separately from the rest of the delegation to the Liberal offices. They were given summonses to appear on trespass
charges and, at this point, are still facing a trial in January.

There is a reason why an assistant Crown thinks this way. We saw it in the charges we faced and it is on full display in the conspiracy charges and political vendetta the State is orchestrating against the G20 defendants.

Governments, increasingly, are destroying those programs that provided for peoples' needs and, as they do this, and opposition starts to emerge, they try and silence that opposition with cops,courts and prison cells.

The July 21 action at the Offices of the Liberal Party was part of OCAP's fight to challenge the McGuinty Government's elimination of the Special Diet and their decision to consign those living on sub poverty welfare payments to even greater poverty. On that day, no one engaged in any
'forcible entry' or terrified office staff, as the Crown implied, but that's not really the point because our real 'crime' was to resist poverty. When the G20 leaders or the McGuinty Liberals get together to discuss how to impose their austerity measures on people, they are not just within the Law but are actually protected by lines of cops. When poor people organize to challenge their plans and build social resistance
to it, however, they are breaching the 'peace' and challenging 'the Rule of Law'.

The real purpose of the charges we have just defeated was to try to
intimidate and stifle resistance to poverty and austerity. Not for the first time, an attempt of this sort has failed. Our fight for living income and dignity will continue and grow and they don't have enough cops and prosecutors to silence us.

We with the support of our union sisters and brothers will be organizing to bring down the Dalton McGuinty government in the October 2011 Ontario provincial election.

OCAP and the CAW along with One Toronto are also monitoring the record of Mayor Rob Ford and will be organizing protests against his attacks on the poor and social service agencies that help them.

CONTACT: / 416-925-6939