Today, march 30th at 1 oclock members of APA, PMUS, AW@L and The SPOT Collective had a rally and a march against austerity and the Liberal budget. The event began with speakers, food from FOOD not Bombs as well as Chicken Tom Yom soup and people just kicking it and building community. People were chalking slogans like Stop the war on the poor, no to opulence and police not welcome while listening to good music and speeches. People from the various groups gave there speeches as well as members of Food Not Bombs and the Justice for Ashley Smith coalition which was followed by poetry and open mike. All the speeches denounced the new austerity budget as something that is not just numbers and statistics but actually affects people and is an attack on poor people. Highlights that were raised include the links between the cuts to community start up, necessary services etc. to stoping people who are in an abusive relationship from accessing necessary services to leave, people dieing from drugs because of lack of programs to get them off drugs, freezing on the streets and ending up in jail because of the criminalization of poverty which they are forced into because of the budget. The speeches defiantly took the discussion from academia and allowed people to see what the human impact of this budget is.
We started to march and took the intersection at king and gaukel which was followed by us taking over the condo developers model unit on king st. We got into a yelling match with the manager and made it plain to them that we would not let them destroy our community by building condos out of the downtown. When the police came the people that entered with me left and a police liaison entered. The police was threatening to arrest me if i didnt leave and i was refusing to leave with crowd staying directly across the street letting people know why we were targeting the condo, i opened the door and started speachafying from inside at which point the cop just pushed me out. We made it plain at that point when we were speeching on the steps that this is just the beginning and through acts of disruption such as occupation etc we will make it too expensive for them or undesirable for there clients to move in the downtown core. Call it the Spots austerity program…lol (Austerity meaning create uncomfort).
We then marched to the new bomb proof monstrosity of a courthouse and denounced the fact that in this time when people are starving they are building this model courthouse with all sorts of security features such as sniper proof windows in the judges chambers because they know that what they are doing will drive people to do desperate acts.
We then went to the cop shop to demand there response to our letter from a year ago. They locked the doors and tried to get us off there steps. We refused to leave and kept on demanding that they give us a reply which they refused because they did not have the authority. After trying to engage and get ahold of the staff Sargent in charge even calling him and seeing him talk on the phone with us through the glass windows we realized that our ownly reply will be military like postures and silence. So we decided to hang out outside and tell our stories. People who were attacked and brutalized by police courageously spoke in the face the police attempts to intimidate and were not silenced. Police turned many people away who were seeking there services which shows that they care more not to be held accountable and stay locked inside then do there jobs.
All in all today was a day were the people stood up to those who everyday have the power of life and death over us and did not back down. We showed the police, the condo developers and the austerifiers that we wont suffer silently. This is, after all, just the beginning.