Members of Koumbit in Support of Jaggi Singh and all Toronto G20 Protestors Still Facing Accusations
(Koumbit feels this matter is of sufficient importance and urgency to highlight on our frontpage, however we do not, as an organisation, endorse this letter. A majority of the workers and many members of Koumbit have instead freely chosen to support this declaration. This letter was written in response to a call for support for Jaggi Singh from the 2010 Anti-Capitalist Convergence.)
In the spirit of solidarity, Koumbit has long supported the expression of dissent, online as in the streets. We believe this expression is a fundamental requirement for a just society. We too dream of a world without borders and fences, and strive to liberate our communications and knowledge of such restrictions.
While we did not, as a collective, go down to Toronto to protest the G20 in June of 2010, we did provide material and logistical support to groups that did, and will continue to do so. Thousands of people, from all walks of life and from throughout the world, marched in the streets of Toronto, seeking to do one thing: give all peoples a voice in proceedings that will shape the course of their lives for decades to come. One of the many repressive measures the state used to prevent these voices from reaching their intended destination was a physical fence.
As our leaders seize unmandated powers and shirk their responsibilities, we declare our support to those courageous souls who called for the dismantling of these barriers, who sought to hold our leaders accountable. We deplore the decision to uphold the sanctity of military force, the government's power to unilaterally declare public spaces closed, and the illegitimate repression of dissent by attacking and imprisoning their critics.
The scapegoating and marginalization of those who call for justice in an unjust society is nothing new. We have seen the same things recur over and over again, with state repression squarely aimed at Mohawks who dare to reclaim their land; police racial profiling and killings in our neighborhoods; the endless cycle of displacement faced by the thousands of homeless people who call our streets home; the imprisonment of hackers who dare challenge and question our security apparatus; attacks on women's organisations fighting for their security and reproductive rights; and countless others.
Over a thousand people were arrested in Toronto, but ultimately, very few of the charges laid have been maintained, and fewer still have resulted in convictions. A few dozen people have been prosecuted for various minor criminal charges; Byron Sonne was imprisoned for almost a year before being granted bail; and 17 people, after months under virtual house arrest, are still facing charges of conspiracy. Now it is Jaggi Singh's turn to bear the brunt of the state's frustration, and, following a plea bargain, he risks jail time.
About his plea bargain, Jaggi had this to say:
By pleading guilty to counseling to commit mischief, I can openly state that the fence deserved to come down, and that the G20 deserved to be confronted. I'll pay a price for having said so openly, but I am ready to assume that responsibility.
It is also our conviction that any call for the dismantling of barriers at the Toronto G20 conference in 2010 was entirely justified by the atmosphere of extreme repression in the city and the illegitimate control of public spaces exercised by the authorities. The police paramilitary mobilization in Toronto at that time was among the most massive, wasteful, and violent of our country's history.
We can see why, with the expenses for the G20 conference under public scrutiny and the pertinence of the security apparatus in Toronto in question, the government is anxious to sweep this whole episode under the rug.
Like many groups involved in social struggle in Montreal, we have had occasion to come into contact with, and appreciate, Jaggi's work as a community organiser and activist. His vitality and conviction are an inspiration to us all. It is our demand that Jaggi face no further imprisonment for his acts of resistance, so that he may be free to continue the work to which he has already devoted many years of his life.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express our solidarity with the 17 other G20 co-defendants charged with conspiracy and with the many other people who have faced state repression for resisting the G20 in Toronto, in 2010.
- Sofian Benaissa, worker, Koumbit.org
- Stéphane Couture, board member, Koumbit.org
- Marc Angles, worker, Koumbit.org
- Matt Corks, worker, Koumbit.org
- Omar Bickell, worker, Koumbit.org
- Antoine Beaupré, worker and board member, Koumbit.org
- Guillaume Boudrias, worker, Koumbit.org
- Jessica Charest, worker, Koumbit.org
- Julie Delorme, worker, Koumbit.org
- Lydie Servanin, worker, Koumbit.org
- Patrick Hétu, worker, Koumbit.org
- Samuel Vanhove, worker, Koumbit.org
- Sebastien Grenier, worker and board member, Koumbit.org
- Shane Bill, worker, Koumbit.org
- François Pedneault, worker, Koumbit.org
- Mathieu Petit-Clair, worker, Koumbit.org
- Christopher Gervais, worker and board member, Koumbit.org
- Heidi Strohl, worker, Koumbit.org
- St-Arnaud Patrice, member, Koumbit.org
- Stéphane Lussier, worker, Koumbit.org
- H. Kurth Bemis, worker, Koumbit.org
- Eric Leduc, member, Koumbit.org
- Wahiaronkwas David, member, Koumbit.org
- Julie Belpaire, membre, Koumbit.org
- Olivier Loyer, membre-fondateur, Koumbit.org (Inde)
- "Je souhaite en ma qualité personnelle et en tant que membre de Koumbit, vous signifier mon appui à votre démarche visant à exempter Jaggi Singh et d'autres d'être emprisonnés injustement pour avoir "osé" démocratiquement manifester leur dissidence à la mascarade que représente le G20 et ce genre de conférences bidon sans vision constructrice pour les citoyens du monde." - Christian Rocquebrune, membre, Koumbit.org
- Ryan Hayes, member, Koumbit.org
The original call for support
On taking down fences and the criminalization of dissent: An interview with Jaggi Singh (rabble.ca)
Crown seeks six months for G20 protester (thestar.com)
Crown demands harsh sentence for G20 activist (NOW Magazine)