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Why U of T’s decision to close during the G20 is a mistake

Why U of T’s decision to close during the G20 is a mistake

Wonderful article on why the University should be open during the G20 if it considers itself a location of debate, intellectual discussion, etc..

Why U of T’s decision to close during the G20 is a mistake

by Patrick Vitale (PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto) and the Liaison Officer for CUPE 3902.

University campuses, including the University of Toronto’s, have often served as safe havens for dissent and political organizing. From Berkeley to Paris to Oaxaca, students and the public have used campuses as a space to organize for a more just and equitable world. Some of the most important gains of the anti-war, feminist, civil rights, and pro-democracy movements (to name a few) were the result of political organizing on university campuses.

At other moments in history, at Kent State and Jackson State, in Mexico City and Beijing, universities have opened their campuses to armed forces that attacked and killed students and their allies. Rather than create safe havens for dissent and political organizing, these universities exposed their students to violent police forces who gassed, beat, and shot them.

Next month, U of T’s administration can decide where it stands on this divide. Will it offer students and protesters a sanctuary or will it invite police repression? Will it create a space where the public can debate and learn about the policies of the G20, or will it barricade its gates limiting protesters’ abilities to organize?

Last Friday, Cheryl Misak, U of T’s Provost, announced the administration’s cowardly decision to close the St. George campus during the G20. The memo explicitly cites protests as a threat to students, staff, and faculty, and notes that as of Wednesday, June 23rd, “the St. George campus will be for all intents and purposes closed.”

Read the full article

Photo by wvs at Flickr.

And here is an expansion of the same article if you want to know more:
City Under Siege: The University of Toronto Joins the G20 Security Ring
by Katie Mazer and Patrick Vitale

G20 wall of sound; Harper to fight bank tax in Europe

G20 wall of sound; Harper to fight bank tax in Europe

You’ve all surely heard a lot about the sound cannons they will be using at the G20 (and beyond), so I’ll just add a couple of tidbits here:

The truck-mounted model of sound cannon can emit an ear-splitting 143 decibels, far above the pain threshold of 110 to 120dB.

The Council of Canadians put out this press release on the sound weapons, and they are planning on handing out earplugs during the G20. Good idea.

Here is what the Council had to say about the ear-piercing devices: “Saying a sound cannon is a tool for communications is like saying waterboarding isn’t torture, just a tool for encouraging dialogue,” Mark Calzavara, a Council of Canadians organizer, said in a statement. “This is meant to intimidate people and make them too scared to protest. They have spent over a billion dollars on security for this event now and it is clearly violating our charter rights.”

Here’s how they used them in Pittsburgh (it’s loud, prepare your ears if you listen!).

Also, getting back to this site’s focus on the issues the G20 itself is talking about, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be continuing his globetrotting next Wednesday with a trip to convince the UK and French leaders that the bank tax, which proponents say would help curb risky speculation at the heart of the economic crisis, is a bad idea. On Monday, I will be putting up a primer on the bank tax history and a critique of the Canadian government’s position. Hopefully that will be enough time for Harper to read it and still have time to cancel his trip without penalty.

Dear Maude – Shout out at G20 summit fence!

Dear Maude – Shout out at G20 summit fence!

Dear Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians

First of all – great idea by the Council of Canadians on handing out earplugs to combat the ‘communication’ cannons. It made me laugh, but really, its actually a serious and practical move. Thanks!

But here is why I’m really here. I read that the Council is hoping to move its Shout Out for Global Justice public forum, originally slated for the U of T to Massey Hall.

“We find this unsettling,” you said today. “Permission to hold a public forum should not be a decision made by police.”

I agree Maude. And that’s why you should have the shout out at the anti-democratic G20 fence. Why not? I recently read a comment from a friend on Facebook that got me thinking about this idea.  Imagine having Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein and everyone else speaking at the forum right there, defying the police’s opportunity to mandate where you can speak. I am sure the presenters would go for it, they are all very experienced and committed.

In fact, I bet much of the public will be behind you – people are upset about how the right to speak is being taken away through this summit. They shouldn’t get a $1 billion soiree while the Council of Canadians has to go from place to place looking for permission. Your supporters will be with you.

I can remember at the FTAA in Quebec City in 2002, how you went right up there, gas mask and all, because you felt it was wrong how people were being gassed, water cannoned, etc… Well, here’s a chance to do it again and build solidarity with those who are unwilling to be penned in, sent 15-20 blocks away to Queen’s park, or told where to hold a public meeting on pressing issues.

Sure there are logistical questions. And no doubt, you might lose a bunch of fundraising dollars and that’s a fair consideration, but I am sure you could figure out a way to still charge at the gate. I’ll pay! And, anyway, making cash has to come second to an opportunity like this, no?


Darren @ G20 Breakdown

Here are some other reactions to the U of T Campus closure

Why U of T’s decision to close during the G20 is a mistake

Keep Campus open during the G20 – Facebook group

Bank lobby: don’t restrict us! + G20 summit security $833M

Bank lobby: don’t restrict us! + G20 summit security $833M

Stay tuned everybody – I have an primer on the bank tax coming in the next couple of days.

In the meantime…

Banks don’t want any restrictions

Despite mounting evidence, the G20 has been advised by yet another bank lobby not to break up the big banks, or “restrict their activities, or impose special taxes or capital requirements” It is astounding. Even Canadian Prime Minister Harper, in his effort to minimize burdens on banks but still appear to be doing something, is openly advocating capital requirements as the (only) means of bank regulation.

It seems that when you have the government in your pocket, you aren’t afraid to go on the offensive.

G20 Cost overrun?

Harper is ensuring that this summit adhers perfectly to his neoliberal worldview (cut all government except the protection of the state).  Turns out the G8/G20 security bill will be at least $833M

Where does the money go?  This is WAAAY more than any other summit ever. 20 times more than the summit in the UK last year and 5 times more than they originally said it would cost.  Canadians and other G20 countries are about to tighten their belts, and will discuss, at the G20, the austerity we must endure (massive cuts public spending, gutting public sector unions).  All in order to pay for the folly and risk-taking of the financial sector. Ok Darren, enough editorializing.

University of Toronto closes for G20 summit

University of Toronto closes for G20 summit

The University of Toronto has decided it will close for 4 days during the G20 summit.   The school is 15-20 blocks of dense city from the G20 meetings. They are saying the closure is because the G20 ‘designated speech’ march will be ending couple of blocks away at Queen’s park.  Hyper-sensitive?  Overreaction? What is the labour and community march going to do that is such a threat to the University (especially for 4 days!)

Looks like U of T students will have to go out to the marches now – they’re both pissed off and have the free time!

It makes you wonder what the University is really doing.  Maybe they are giving up the space to G20 security so they cast an even wider net.

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