Up Against the Barricades in Ottawa

Thousands Denounce G20, IMF, and World Bank

Revolutionary Worker #1129, December 2, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org

On November 16-18, thousands of people gathered in Ontario, Canada's capital city, to protest a meeting of finance ministers and bank chiefs of the "G20" (countries with the world's 20 largest economies), International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

People had to go up against a lot to pull this action off--with only three to four weeks to mobilize, and going up against the whole fascistic atmosphere whipped up by the governments since 9/11. But in the face of police intimidation and attack, the protests again indicted the way globalization under the capitalist system is oppressing the people of the planet. As the international bloodsuckers met inside the Ottawa Conference Center, the voices of the people were alive in the streets calling out for a different world. The protests condemned the impoverishment of the people by capitalism, the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, and the criminalization of political dissent.

The meeting was defended by hundreds of riot cops armed with tear gas and rubber bullet guns, pepper spray, clubs, water cannons, shields, and police dogs. At various points police attacked the marchers, singling out people wearing black or with gas masks for arrest. 50 people were arrested during the protests, and a number of people were bitten by police dogs. But the people united to support and defend each other. Some of the youth fought back against the cops--throwing various items at police lines and storming metal barricades to contest the "red zone" around the meeting site.

The capitalist authorities tried to contain the protests in other ways. Activists coming across the U.S.-Canada border were detained, searched, harassed, photographed and denied entry by Canadian Customs. No one knows yet how many were kept from participating because of this. Two nonviolent activists from the U.S.--Lisa Fithian and Starhawk--were stopped by immigration officials at the Ottawa airport. Fithian was told she could leave Canada voluntarily or be deported. She refused to leave on her own and was detained for a day or two before being released.

On the 16th a rally and snake march called by Ottawa Committee Against the Tories (OCAT), the CLAC (La Convergence des Luttes Anti-Capitaliste--Anti-Capitalist Convergence) and the Black Touta took the streets. Hundreds of youth marched toward the Conference Center. Police had set up a series of barricades and riot cops surrounded the Center. A report on Ontario Indymedia web site by a participant in the anarchist black bloc said, "The march began to gain energy as we approached the perimeter, even with our small numbers we easily dismantled the pathetic police barricade and used it to our own advantage."

November 17 was the main mobilization--called by the Global Democracy Ottawa and joined in by the anarchist groups who had marched on the 16th. Marches started in the morning from three locations, and the plan was to converge in downtown Ottawa for a rally at the Supreme Court building, not far from the Conference Center. Several thousand gathered to the west of downtown at Lebreton Flats, hundreds in Hull--north and west across the Ottawa River--and hundreds more at the University of Ottawa to the southeast of downtown. (See the accompanying article "Report from the Frontlines in Ottawa" for a firsthand report of the marches.)

That night youth marched towards the jail to support those arrested. Police again singled out several youth--pointing rubber bullet and bean bag guns at them at close range, seizing flagpoles and signs. The next day, the 18th, people protested at the courthouse in defense of those arrested, shouting "Liberez nos camarades!" (Free our Comrades!) By the afternoon of the 18th all but 3 of the 50 who had been arrested were released. Smaller marches and a die-in at the War Memorial continued into the late afternoon.

On the same weekend as the Ottawa protests, thousands were protesting against the School of the Americas at Fort Benning near Atlanta, Georgia. A statement of solidarity to the Ottawa resisters from the School of the Americas Watch said in part, "We gather this November in two different locations to stand up against two different parts of one great system of evil.... Those in Ottawa and those in Georgia are united in the same struggle. Today we stand in solidarity with you as we raise our collective voice and take to the streets to demand a world that is free of military domination and economic violence. A world where the power of the people prevails. A world where all live free from terror. Today we stand as one in the name of justice."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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