Category Archives: Zoe Blunt

So I filed a lawsuit against this local wingnut

Some of you may know this Ryan Elson guy — he’s been demanding a “debate” with a third-party “judge” or he will do something horrible and sinister to “take me down.”

OK then – it’s on.

The nutjob and his buddies invited a neo-Nazi defender to speak at a rally in October 2012. They started harassing me after I called them out as racists. Dude got aggro with me in public, and I took pictures of him trying to intimidate me and published them.

Well, that really set him off. He threatened to sue me, have me arrested, and worse. (I know, NUTTY!)

Anyway, the situation escalated to the point where I filed a civil suit in BC Supreme Court on November 22. My lawyers are really great, and they detest white supremacist jerks too.

The good news is people in the community got together about these bullies and said “Enough.” I’m not the first woman the dude has targeted – he has a police file for harassment, plus a blog full of poison aimed at local activists and a couple more angry dudes for backup.

So the stage is set, and the court hearings should be loaded with high-level wingnuttiness. I’ll be documenting the proceedings and publishing the highlights for everyone’s amusement. Stay tuned for updates!

Folks who contribute to the legal fund will receive a commemorative copy of the judgement (along with my comedic commentary) as a souvenir.

Please send your support to: Tracie Park (that’s my legal name), care of Catherine Boies Parker, Underhill Boies Parker Law, 1127 Fort St, Victoria BC V8V 3K9.

Thank you for bearing witness to this moment in wingnut legal history!

About me: I’m a writer and non-profit director in Victoria, BC. I’ve contributed to Adbusters, Canadian Dimension, Focus Magazine, Street Newz, The Dominion, The People’s Voice and other journals. That’s my legal name on the notice of claim, but most people know me by my pen name – Blunt is my great-grandmother’s name, and Zoe means “life.”

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2014 Zoe Blunt

1 Comment

Filed under Hate Mail, Ryan Elson, Wingnuts, Zoe Blunt

Hate mail from haters (now with more hate!)

What can you do with obnoxious racists? Reason doesn’t work, and even baseball bats can’t knock sense into a bonehead. But we can expose and mock them.

Ryan Elson (John Pettit), right, at BC Supreme Court in Victoria, BC

Ryan Elson (John Pettit), right, at BC Supreme Court in Victoria, BC. Photo (c) 2012 Times Colonist.

In October 2012, members of the conspiracy cult and Occupy splinter group We Are Crazy Victoria announced that lawyer and white supremacist Doug Christie would be speaking at a rally at the BC Legislature in Victoria BC.

No way. That’s not okay. I’d never met any of these nutbars, but we all knew their reputation for harassing women and people of colour. Clearly, we needed to call a counterprotest.

Friends and allies helpfully contacted all the other speakers to inform them they were sharing a stage with Canada’s best-known racist. They had no idea Christie was coming. Five speakers – including the keynote – immediately canceled. In a panic, the organizers dropped Christie from the event – and then blamed me for “censoring” him. Ryan Elson and Josh Steffler scrambled to cast themselves as advocates for “free speech” while vilifying me for infringing Christie’s “rights.” Among other threats, Elson said they would sue me for criticizing WeAreCrazyVictoria, and have me arrested if I showed up for the counterprotest.

That didn’t happen, but it was a hilarious day nonetheless.

Half an hour before the haters’ rally was set to begin, we set up a couple signs at the Cenotaph on the corner of the Legislature lawn, 200 meters from the wingnuts’ stage, and handed out leaflets explaining we were counterprotesting against racism, bullying, and hate speech.

Just before noon, the “free speech advocates” came over to shut us down. Ha! Fat chance.

Tough guys coming for us. Ooh, scary.

Photo by Zoe Blunt

Left: Certifiable lunatic and white supremacist Ryan Elson (alias John Pettitt, StealthC, XtoFury, Fixx_Revolution). Centre: Conspiracy freak and amateur astrologist Philip Livingston (aka Adam Evan Livingston), allegedly a fourth-year psych student at UVic. Right: Slimeball creep “Henry Tudor,” who is dumb as a sack of poop.

They came straight for me, ignoring the rest of the group. Elson got right up in my face screaming abuse. That’s when I got out the megaphone. Elson was trying to get nose-to-nose with me, but with the bullhorn deployed, he got a face full of “Back off racist scum” with the volume cranked to 11.

Trying to get in my face and failing

Photo by Zoe Blunt

Naturally, this tough guy was more interested in picking on me (I’m 5 feet and 110 pounds) than the linebacker-sized ex-bouncers standing around me with the signs. Any one of them could pick Elson up with one hand and break him like a twig, and they were ready in case he laid a hand on any of us.

The “back off racist scum” commotion drew two police officers from their post at the Legislature Building. As they approached, Elson pointed and hollered: “Officer, arrest her! She doesn’t have a permit to be here!” The cops said, “Step over here son, we’re gonna explain something to you.” Here’s the little bully, getting TOLD.

Free speech for me, but not for thee? Nope, doesn't work that way

Photo by Zoe Blunt

The nutjobs had no choice but to slink back to their “rally,” which consisted of fewer than a dozen people on the Legislature steps. We serenaded them with rousing chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, racists have got to go!” and handed out hundreds of flyers. The wackjobs got schooled. It was a fine day.

Racist got told

Photo by Zoe Blunt

But it’s not over yet – the haters are setting themselves on fire in a desperate grab for attention. In a long, incoherent blog post, Elson proclaims he’s a “victim” of homophobia and accuses me of somehow outing him as gay, which is news to everyone but his boyfriends, apparently. So now Elson is Canada’s version of the gay conservative who beat himself up. Except that Elson claims he was in the closet before he announced that he’s gay and that makes it all my fault, or something.

Well played, haters! Looking forward to next time.

—– UPDATE November 1 —–

It seems I have hurt the racists’ feelings. So they are calling me a terrorist and howling for my arrest on charges of “criminal defamation.” Funny! I thought they were opposed to censorship. Anyway — bring it, boys. The publicity would be worth the price of admission.

I mentioned that these wingnuts are setting themselves on fire. Here’s an example: According to Elson, this video is irrefutable proof that PAOV (People’s Assembly of Victoria) and I secretly control Facebook. The video was recorded at an October 2012 meeting of WeAreCrazy, and we get to eavesdrop as Josh Steffler and other members discuss things like dealing with the “Zionist-controlled world government” and being called “Holocaust deniers.” Which they certainly are NOT, because you can’t deny something that never happened, amirite?

While you’re at it, check out this video (also from October 2012) of Elson trying to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about an imaginary future “genocide against white people.”

And take a look at this image Elson posted on the Occupy Victoria B.C. page on Facebook around the same time. It’s a swastika with a photo of Hitler and the text “Last time it was the JEWS, this time it’s white men.”

Of course, just a couple weeks ago, WeAreCrazyVictoria was proud to feature a video of Doug Christie speaking at their 2011 rally — until they realized their racism was showing, and purged him. What a shame! Especially since they were so pleased with themselves for inviting him to speak as a surprise guest at their rally last year. Where is your “white pride” now?

But wait, there’s more. Josh Steffler has made his own video to show us he and WAC are not really racist at all. That’s because there are no “races,” there is ONLY ONE RACE. So that makes us the real racists, because we keep talking about race and racism. DUH. (Bonus: BOLSHEVIKS!)

It’s easy to mock their ignorance, but these idiots are trying to recruit new members and launch new assaults on our friends, fellow activists and “the left” in general.

So IT’S ON, assholes.

Related:
So I filed a lawsuit against this local wingnut

The Judge Should Arrest Me for Calling this Dingbat a Racist

Turfing Out the Racists

How to Oppress Men

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2014 Zoe Blunt

11 Comments

Filed under Hate Mail, Josh Steffler, Legal Battles, Ryan Elson, We Are Change Victoria, Wingnuts, Zoe Blunt

Deep Green Resistance: Words as tactical weapons

Review by Zoe Blunt | Originally published in the March/April 2012 issue of Canadian Dimension  magazine. Subscribe here.

Deep Green ResistanceI first heard about Deep Green Resistance in the middle of a grassroots fight to stop a huge vacation-home subdivision at a wilderness park on Vancouver Island. Back then, it hadn’t really occurred to me that a book on environmental strategy was needed. Now I can tell you, it’s urgent.

Deep Green Resistance (DGR) made me a better strategist. If you’re an activist, then this book is for you. But be warned: at 520 pages (plus endnotes), it’s not light reading. Quite the opposite — DGR dares environmental groups to focus on decisive tactics rather than mindless lobbying and silly stunts.

“This book is about fighting back. And this book is about winning,” author Derrick Jensen declares in the preface to this three-way collaboration with Lierre Keith and Aric McBay.

Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, opens the discussion with an analysis of why “traditional” environmental action is self-defeating. For those who’ve read Jensen’s Endgame, or who have experienced the frustration of born-to-lose activism, Keith’s analysis hits the nerve.

The DGR philosophy was born from failure. In a recent interview, Jensen recounts a 2007 conversation with fellow activists who asked, “Why is it that we’re doing so much activism, and the world is being killed at an increasing rate?” “This suggests our work is a failure,” Jensen concludes. “The only measure of success is the health of the planet.”

If we keep to this course, as Keith points out, the outcome is extinction: the death of species, of people, and the planet itself. Environmental “solutions” are by now predictable, and totally out of scale with the threat we’re facing. Cloth bags, eco-branded travel mugs, hemp shirts, and recycled flip-flops won’t change the world. Wishful thinking aside, they can’t, because they don’t challenge the industrial machine. It just keeps grinding out tons of waste for every human on the earth, whether they are vegan hempsters who eat local or not. So these “solutions” amount to fiddling while the world burns.

Aric McBay, organic farmer and co-author of What We Leave Behind, says Deep Green Resistance “is about making the environmental movement effective.”

“Up to this point, you know, environmental movements have relied mostly on things like petitions, lobbying, and letter-writing,” McBay says. “That hasn’t worked. That hasn’t stopped the destruction of the planet, that hasn’t stopped the destruction of our future. So the point is if we want to be effective, we have to look at what other social movements, what other resistance movements have done in the past.”

Keith notes that a given tactic can be reformist or radical, depending on how it’s used. For example, we don’t often think of legal strategies as radical, but if it’s a mass campaign with an “or else” component that empowers people and brings a decisive outcome, then it creates fundamental change.

“Don’t be afraid to be radical,” Keith advises in a recent interview. “It’s emotional, yes; this is difficult for people, but we are going to have to name these power structures and fight them. The first step is naming them, then we’ve got to figure out what their weak points are, and then organize where they are weak and we are strong.”

Powerful words. But by then I was desperate for a blueprint, a guidebook, some signposts to help break the deadlock in our campaign to save the park. Two hundred pages into DGR, we get down to brass tacks, and find out what strategic resistance looks like.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a guerrilla uprising.

To be clear, Deep Green Resistance is an aboveground, nonviolent movement, but with a twist: it calls for the creation of an underground, militant movement. The gift of this book is the revelation that strategies used by successful insurgencies can be used just as successfully by nonviolent campaigns.

McBay argues convincingly that it’s the combination of peaceful and militant action that wins. He emphasizes that people must choose between aboveground tactics and underground tactics, because trying to do both at once will get you caught.

“The cases of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X exemplify how a strong militant faction can enhance the effectiveness of less militant tactics,” McBay writes. “Some presume that Malcolm X’s ‘anger’ was ineffective compared to King’s more ‘reasonable’ and conciliatory position. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It was Malxolm X who made King’s demands seem eminently reasonable, by pushing the boundaries of what the status quo would consider extreme.”

What McBay calls “decisive ecological warfare” starts with guerrilla movements and the Art of War. Guerrilla fighting is all about asymmetric warfare. One side is well-armed, well-funded, and highly disciplined, and the other side is a much smaller group of irregulars. And yet sometimes the underdog wins. It’s not by accident, and it’s not because they are all nonviolent and pure of heart, but because they use their strengths effectively. They hit where it counts. The rebels win the hearts and minds and, crucially, the hands-on support of the civilian populace. That’s what turns the tide.

McBay notes, for example, that land reclamation has proven to be a decisive strategy. He argues that “aboveground organizers [should] learn from groups like the Landless Workers’ Movement in Latin America.” This ongoing movement “has been highly successful at reclaiming ‘underutilized’ land, and political and legal frameworks in Brazil enable their strategy,” McBay adds.

Imagine two million people occupying the Tar Sands. Imagine blocking or disrupting crucial supply lines. Imagine profits nose-diving, investors bailing out, brokers panic-selling, and the whole top-heavy edifice crashing to a halt.

The Landless Workers’ Movement operates openly. Another group, the Underground Railroad, was completely secret. Members risked their lives to help slaves escape to Canada. A similar network could help future resisters flee state persecution. Those underground networks need to form now, McBay says, before the aboveground resistance gets serious, and before the inevitable crackdown comes.

DGR categorizes effective actions as either shaping, sustaining, or decisive. If a given tactic doesn’t fit one of those categories, it is not effective, McBay says. He emphasizes, however, that all good strategies must be adaptable.

To paraphrase a few nuggets of wisdom:

Stay mobile.
Get there first with the most.
Select targets carefully.
Strike and get away.
Use multiple attacks.
Don’t get pinned down.
Keep plans simple.
Seize opportunities.
Play your strengths to their weakness.
Set reachable goals.
Follow through.
Protect each other.
And never give up.

Guerrilla warfare is not a metaphor for what’s happening to the planet. The forests, the oceans, and the rivers are victims of bloody battles that start fresh every day. Here in North America, it’s low-intensity conflict. Tactics to keep the populace in line are usually limited to threats, intimidation, arrests, and so on.

But the “war in the woods” gets real here, too. I’ve been shot at by loggers. In 1999, they burned our forest camp to the ground and put three people in the hospital. In 2008, two dozen of us faced a hundred coked-up construction workers bent on beating our asses.

Elsewhere, it’s a shooting war. Canadian mining companies kill people as well as ecosystems. We are responsible for stopping them. We know what’s happening. Failing to take effective action is criminal collusion.

Wherever we are, whatever we do, they’re murdering us. They’re poisoning us. Enbridge, Deepwater Horizon, Exxon, Shell, Suncor and all their corporate buddies are poisoning the air, the water, and the land. We know it and they know it. Animals are dying and disappearing. There will be no end to the destruction as long as there is profit in it.

This work is scary as hell. That’s why we need to be really brave, really smart and really strategic.

We have strengths our opponents will never match. We’re smarter and more flexible than they are, and we’re compelled by an overwhelming motivation: to save the planet. We’re fighting for our survival and the survival of everyone we love. They just want more money, and the only power they know is force.

As Jensen says, ask a ten-year-old what we should do to stop environmental disasters that are caused in large part by the use of fossil fuels, and you’ll get a straightforward answer: stop using fossil fuels. But what if the companies don’t want to stop? Then make them stop.

Ask a North American climate-justice campaigner, and you’re likely to hear about media stunts, Facebook apps, or people stripping and smearing each other with molasses. Not to diss hard-working activists, but unless they are building strength and unity on the ground, these tactics won’t work. They’re not decisive. They’re just silly.

Of course, if the media stunts are the lead-in to mass, no-compromise, nonviolent action to shut down polluters, I’ll see you there. I’ll even do a striptease to celebrate.

© 2012 Zoe Blunt

Leave a Comment

Filed under Animals, Derrick Jensen, Environment, Politics, Zoe Blunt

Calling Bullshit on Island Timberlands

Cortes Island
Photo by Island Light

Action Alert: Island Timberlands is preparing to log the forests of Cortes Island, near Campbell River.

As Michael Tippett notes, Cortes Island is a “birthplace of the green movement,” a cradle for Greenpeace in its early days, and home to the influential eco-wellness institute Hollyhock. And Island Timberlands is owned by a Wall Street investment firm.

The green movement vs. Wall Street? This fight is going to be epic.

Island residents have repelled invaders before, but this time it looks serious. For decades, corporations have labeled the forests on Cortes Island “socially inoperable” because of local opposition. Now they’re ramping up the pressure to get the timber out.

Cortes is home to sensitive wetlands, rare species and wild animals, who, through no fault of their own, live on private forestland. That land is now owned by Island Timberlands, which in turn is owned by Brookfield Asset Management, a Wall Street investment company.

In 2011, the good people of Cortes Island hosted a weekend workshop to get together and strategize. It was announced weeks in advance in the island newsletter. That’s how Island Timberlands got wind of it. The company quickly set up a public relations schmooze-fest to try and preempt this community gathering.

But things didn’t go quite as planned.

Island Timberlands office Nanaimo
Island Timberlands office, 65 Front Street, Nanaimo. Photo: Google

When the corporate manager arrived by ferry, a sixty-person “welcoming committee” greeted him at the dock with a noise parade, improvised instruments, and lot of “cheering.” The poor schmuck I.T. sent was so undone by this display of free expression that he called the RCMP, who arrived shortly after. (There were no charges, except to the taxpayer, and the RCMP soon departed.)

The schmuck in question – operations dude Wayne French of Nanaimo – was completely unprepared for the “public relations” part of the job.

Wayne French, operations manager
Saturday morning’s walk and talk was set up as a casual getting-to-know-you thing. We met on a dirt road, an easement into I.T.’s private forests. The temperature was mild, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the residents were chatting and joking. Except poor Wayne, who seemed a little tense.

Twenty of us were standing around talking when Wayne freaked out. “You can’t film here!” he barked at a young man with a camera. Everyone turned to look.

“There are people who can’t be here today, seniors and disabled people, and I’m filming it for them,” the young man said. He looked Wayne right in the eye and held the camera steady.

Wayne got louder. “This is private land and I’m telling you, you can’t do that here,” he hollered.

“But you invited the public,” someone piped up. “Yep, public events can be filmed,” agreed another.

The younger man kept the camera’s glass eye aimed at Wayne. “I’m making a record for the people who can’t be here.”

Wayne got red in the face and he gestured violently. “Turn that off, I’m telling you!” The islander didn’t move.

Wayne wound up for another blast, stomping and flailing, and he accidentally set off the alarm on his truck. Two dogs were locked inside, and they started barking and howling and jumping at the windows. Wayne couldn’t shut off the alarm. He aimed the key fob like a TV remote, frantically pressing with his thumb, but it kept sounding. Finally, he had to get in the truck and start the engine. Then the klaxon fell silent and the dogs sat back. Wayne shut off the motor and climbed out.

We all stood there looking at Wayne. He looked around at us, and there was a long awkward silence, which I broke.

“Of course you don’t want to be filmed today, because I.T. doesn’t want to be bound by anything you tell us. Because you guys want to be able to change your minds and do something else if you want,” I said.

“Yes, that’s right,” he replied sharply.

So there you have it.

It was just so much bullshit, although no one said that to Wayne’s face, because we are too polite.

The young man continued to film.  The public relations disaster was just beginning.

People had questions that Wayne mostly evaded with vague answers, like you’d give to a demanding pre-schooler. “That’ll be up to the faller,” he kept saying. “We’ll see what gets decided.”

Several people pressed him to talk about the wetland, ringed by big cedars. There, he did come up with a definite answer: A buffer zone would protect it. “The riparian zone is marked,” he told us. This meant there would be no logging next to the marsh and the watercourses.

We were prepared to ground-truth his statements, so we trooped through the woods and across the streams and down through the towering cedars into the swamp. Once we got there, the flagging tape told a different story. Residents saw the riparian zone markers fluttering in the marsh and realized this wetland wasn’t even on the map. The flagging tape and the maps said the big cedars were going to fall.

The residents turned to Wayne for an explanation. He backpedaled furiously. “This is not the final map,” he blurted. “It’s taken from a twenty-year-old ortho photo.”

“We can all agree this is a wetland though, right?” one woman insisted. Standing ankle-deep in the marsh, Wayne agreed, carefully.

Island Timberlands owns big sections of Cortes Island. I.T., in turn, is owned by Brookfield Asset Management (BAM), a Wall Street investment firm. Coincidentally – or not – BAM also owns Zucotti Park, the site of the original Occupy Wall Street camp. Yes, these are the same 1%ers who evicted people from the park. They are corporate raiders out to liquefy any assets they can, including old-growth forests.

In exchange for clearcutting the island, the corporation is dangling the possibility of a few short-term jobs. That’s it. That’s all. No parkland, no amenities, nothing. I’m betting local people will not get those jobs.

Artwork for I.T.

The residents of Cortes Island have pushed back every time the corporate dudes showed up to tell them the forest was going to be logged. The dudes got sent off with a message: don’t try it.

This time, though, the pressure is mounting. Cortesians fear that the company won’t back down and they will have to put themselves on the line.

Local environmental group Wildstands has tried every reasonable path to preserving the big trees and watercourses. It opened negotiations to purchase the land (I.T. won’t sell, not even for double the market value) and launched a petition that already has almost 5000 signatures – not bad for an island of a thousand people! Next, they’re calling for people to come and bear witness.

Meanwhile, another group is recruiting and training legal observers. Island Stance emphasises that observers aren’t protestors; they monitor human rights in encounters between the public and the police.

Who owns the land? Or does the land own us? Will everyone who loves Cortes Island obey the corporate managers? Or will they obey their conscience? Will they give in to authority, or stand up for their island’s wildlife and ecosystems?

We’ll find out. See you there!


WildStands at Occupy Wall Street, January 2012

UPDATE

As of spring 2014, Island Timberlands has not started logging its holdings on Cortes Island. The company has quietly withdrawn – until next time.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Zoe Blunt

18 Comments

Filed under Environment, Zoe Blunt

Uncivilized

Derrick Jensen

Author and activist Derrick Jensen would consider the label “uncivilized” a compliment. But then, he’s not your garden-variety white California environmentalist. He’s an outspoken anti-authoritarian and vehement anti-capitalist, yet he refuses to be categorized as either an anarchist or a socialist. Instead of controlling the means of production, Jensen calls on workers to destroy the means of production in order to save the planet. “Luddite” fits, but it doesn’t go far enough.

In an interview earlier this year, Jensen said he rejects the term “primitivist” because it’s a “racist way to describe indigenous peoples.” He prefers “indigenist” or “ally to the indigenous,” because “indigenous peoples have had the only sustainable human social organizations, and … we need to recognize that we [colonizers] are all living on stolen land.”

Jensen has fifteen books in print, including Listening to the Land (1995), A Language Older Than Words (2000), As the World Burns (2007), and Lives Less Valuable (2010). His most influential work, the 2006 best-seller Endgame: The Problem of Civilization, is the subject of the 2010 indie film END:CIV.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Animals, Derrick Jensen, Environment, Politics, Zoe Blunt

Stump broke

You ought to be taken out to the back forty and stump broke,” reads the message from a guy calling himself “Bronco.”*

The discussion was about a resort that went bankrupt, leaving hundreds of millions in debts. It wasn’t my fault – I just published information about it. Of course, it’s not the kind of information that the developers want the public to see.

Stump broke. I look it up. It means to tie an animal to a stump and rape it.

Turns out Stinger knows him by his business name. Bronco Excavating.* I find the number, a rural address in Saanich. I got a recording – a middle-aged woman’s voice, a cell phone number. The same woman answers the cell phone.

“I’m trying to reach Don Kringsborn*, please,” I say
“Who is this?”
“Zoe Blunt. I’m calling for Don Kringsborn, if he’s available.” I’m very polite.
“Where are you calling from? What do you want?” She’s knows my name and she’s upset.
I’ve blocked my number. “I’m calling from my home. Is it possible to speak to Don?”
“Not unless you give me more information!”
“How about if you give him a message. I need to know if I have the correct definition of ‘stump broke.'”
“Stump broke? Stump broke?” Her voice rises.
“Yes, I’m looking for the definition of ‘stump broke.'” I repeat.
“We’re not even in the country right now!” the woman exclaims, apropos of nothing.
“Tell him he can reach me on my cell phone. Thank you.” I hang up.

I find the postcard, a colour photo of an unfinished construction project that the resort was building until it ran out of money. “Greetings from Langford Bridge to Nowhere!” the card reads. I address it to Don Kringsborn at his Saanich address and inscribe it: “To my biggest fan! Love, Zoe.”

*Names and pseudonyms have been changed.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Animals, Hate Mail, Politics, Zoe Blunt

Land-Use “Bullies” Put On Notice

Update: Langford’s mayor has given in and scheduled a new public hearing. News report here.

When I don’t blog for a while, it’s usually because I’m out causing trouble for malevolent public officials or unethical developers. But it’s all good, because then I can come back here and dish the dirt with photos and video and all that happy shit.

I’m a founding member of Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network (VIC FAN), a tiny non-profit group that’s challenging the big boys of Bear Mountain. This week, we scored some points in the mainstream media.


Here’s the VIC FAN posse backing me up at Langford City Hall, February 27, 2009. Photo: Edward Hill/Goldstream News Gazette staff

VIC FAN is challenging a public hearing where Langford’s mayor verbally abused and intimidated residents opposed to the Bear Mountain Parkway and South Skirt Mountain Village development. News reports from the hearing on February 23 show an angry Mayor Stew Young browbeating a retired schoolteacher, calling her remarks “negative” and telling her to “sit down.” Other speakers were repeatedly interrupted and confronted by the mayor, who had earlier told reporters that he believes the development should be approved regardless of the public’s objections.

My neighbours want to protect wildlife habitat and water quality for the enjoyment of the whole community, and the way they were treated at the hearing is absolutely appalling.

The media frenzy is still in full swing. Behold:

Critics of Langford Development Assail Mayor’s Conduct
(Times Colonist, front page — above the fold, February 28, 2009)

Activists seek fresh public hearing
(Goldstream Gazette, March 4, 2009)

Langford mayor tangles with citizens over Skirt Mountain development (Times Colonist, February 24, 2009)

VIC FAN has since learned that the city and the developers have failed to notify — let alone consult with — the Tsartlip First Nation, which claims SPAET (Skirt) Mountain as part of its traditional territory. For thousands of years, the mountain has been a shared site where families from the Esquimalt, Songhees, Tsartlip and other First Natons would gather for ceremonies and celebrations.

Now we’re demanding a new public hearing on the South Skirt Mountain development. A February 27 letter to Mayor Stew Young and Langford City Council spells out several violations of the Local Government Act, and warns that if Langford adopts the controversial Skirt Mountain rezoning bylaw, it could be quashed by the Supreme Court.

I went down to City Hall yesterday, gave the letter to a city staff person and told him, “We’re putting the City of Langford on notice that we won’t tolerate bullying citizens who raise legitimate concerns about environmental destruction.”

In the letter to Langford’s mayor and council, our lawyer Irene Faulkner notes that:

  • Pertinent documents, such as an archaeological report, were not made available to members of the public;
  • Some speakers were interrupted and berated by the Mayor;
  • Audience members heckled and jeered at speakers.

The letter continues: “Such conduct suggests that those charged with making the decision were not amenable to any persuasion, but rather went through the motions of holding a hearing with a totally closed mind.”

Provincial statutes and past Supreme Court cases set a clear standard for public hearings on land use, which are considered “quasi-judicial” and expected to maintain “courtroom-like decorum.”

The controversial South Skirt Mountain Village proposal includes 2800 housing units, a village centre and an ecological centre that will decimate the remaining native garry oak and arbutus ecosystems on the steep hillside east of Goldstream Provincial Park and south of Bear Mountain Resort. The west side of the development plan abuts the Florence Lake neighbourhood.

Mayor Young revealed at Monday’s meeting that the city is seeking federal and provincial infrastructure funding for the South Skirt plan, in addition to the Bear Mountain Parkway and the Spencer Road Interchange, which are already under construction.

The interchange project and Bear Mountain Resort itself have been dogged by protests from environmentalists and First Nations people since November 2006. Two caves considered important cultural sites were destroyed during the construction of the interchange and the resort’s second golf course in 2008. In February 2008, more than 60 RCMP officers raided a protest camp and arrested five people. Their charges were later dropped, and a Public Complaints Commission investigation is ongoing.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Environment, Politics, Zoe Blunt

Vancouver Island Hippies: Top Security Threat for 2010?

Vancouver Island hippies in their natural habitat
Vancouver Island hippies in their natural habitat.

February 11, 2009

According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, protestors are the number one security threat to the 2010 Games. So maybe that explains why officers with the Integrated Security Unit are running around Victoria trying to convince hippies to spy on each other.

But the cops may find that peaceniks and bohemians are too street-smart to play spy games. Vancouver Island long-hairs know better than to give information to police, especially when it’s obvious that no crime has been committed.

“I said to the officer, there’s no way I am going to snitch on my friends!” bookstore owner Robert Garfat tells me, a little indignantly.

The long-time Vancouver Island resident was shocked when he was approached earlier this month by RCMP constable Mike Smook of the Integrated Security Unit. Smook wanted information about Victoria’s No 2010 activists. But it’s not snitching, according to Smook – the police just want to use his eyes and ears.

Garfat was troubled by the encounter and unsure if he should tell others, but then made up his mind that people should know what the police are up to.

“My feeling is that we should say something because if they’re going out into the community trying to intimidate people and to try and co-opt people into becoming informants, that’s like Big Brother,” he says.

A second local activist — who asked not to be named — says the police have come to his door asking to speak to all the residents, as well as taking pictures of everyone who came and left the building.

“None of those questioned had any arrests or previous charges,” the young man says. “The cops friggin’ bothered us for no good reason other than owning literature that is in opposition to the Olympics.”

Others in the community have similar stories. According to several people who contacted us privately this week, the RCMP has succeeded in recruiting at least one informant – a child of 15. She has been cooperating with police for months, they said.

Leaving aside questions of whether this is legal or ethical, the tactic is troubling. If Victoria social justice advocates are so dangerous, isn’t it risky to send a child to spy on them? And if they’re not dangerous, why spy on them at all?

We should all be aware that the police are not gathering information so they can hand out commendations for being great social-justice activists and good citizens. They are gathering information that will potentially put people in jail — preemptively — to prevent them from getting a message to the world about the social conditions here. Why are so many people homeless? Why are so many people in poverty? Why is there a lack of decent housing across B.C. on the reserves? Why are we still destroying old-growth forests for sports events? These are the questions we want to get out to the world, and we believe the police are trying to stop this from happening.

Conducting surveillance and recruiting informants in the absence of any crime violates the Charter, in my opinion. Domestic spying without a clear law enforcement objective does not help national security – it just intimidates citizens who have done nothing wrong (besides criticizing the government.). Fishing expeditions are not legal. Prior restraint on free speech is not legal. Warrantless wiretaps are not legal either, or at least they weren’t the last time I checked.

In fact, we have the right to associate with whoever we want, even with people who criticize the Olympics or take governments to task for ignoring poverty, homelessness and the ongoing effects of racism in our society.

Police statements in the media about ‘consulting with activists’ are nonsense. Their clumsy and heavy-handed attempts to meet privately with individuals are causing controversy, intimidating activists and sowing distrust in the community. There are serious concerns that the police may resort to coercion and bribes to try and force people to inform on their friends.

A committee founded by members of the BC Civil Liberties Association tried to meet with the ISU for an exchange of views and advice, but backed out on finding it was an exercise in frustration.

“It hasn’t been easy when dealing with the authorities,” said Michael Byers, UBC professor and BCCLA member. “With respect, we have pretty much hit a brick wall.”

“In my view, the ISU … has lost sight of those human rights principles and have focused excessively on the search for “perfect security.”

Alissa Westergard-Thorpe, a member of the Olympic Resistance Network in Vancouver, was approached by police last month. She has this to say: “The ORN is not interested in talking with police about the conditions under which we exercise our rights to assembly and expression. They can read the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

And if the police can’t be bothered to read the Charter, maybe we should read it to them — real slow, so that they understand.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Olympics, Politics, Zoe Blunt

Earth Day Mini-Riot

Earth walk 2008
Earth Walk 2008, Victoria, BC. Photo: Pete Rockwell

On April 19, 2008, Victoria police attacked the city’s annual Earth Day parade because the parade leaders went “the wrong way” on the parade route. A friend of mine (we’ll call him John) was thrown to the ground, arrested and handcuffed by motorcycle cops when he and two others tried to carry the Earth Walk banner past the BC Legislature Building.

“They didn’t give me any warning at all,” John says. “We were having a great time marching with the samba band, and I wanted to go a little further around the block. I just didn’t want it to end yet.”

The cops had John down and cuffed, but seconds later half a dozen people piled on to un-arrest him. Twenty minutes of confusion followed as five hundred parade spectators crowded around trying to see what was happening. The motorcycle cops did not have a squad car to put John into, and instead of marching him away to a secure location, they stayed put — surrounded by a mob demanding his release.

A standoff ensued. I waded into the middle of the milling crowd. Raccoons were piled on top of each other with arms linked and the officers were telling the crowd to disperse.

“What the hell are you doing?” I asked one. “We have a permit for this march.” The cop just glared at me. “How about trying to de-escalate this? You can end it right now by letting him go.” The cop turned away.

When the cops realized they were not going to be able to take John away, they said, “OK, if he just gives us his name we’ll let him go.” Someone in the crowd yelled “HIS NAME IS JUSTICE!” (He’ll always be Johnny Justice to us!)

I wiggled back out of the crush and ran up the steps of the Legislature Building to the stage. The musicians and welcome speakers were huddled off to the side, peering at the boiling mass of people on the street.

“Let him go! Let him go! Let him go! Let him go!” It was a great sound system. Some in the crowd were chanting along and clapping.

Some weren’t. Back in the street, one woman was yelling at the puppy-pile of eco-anarchists. “I hope you’re happy. You people ruined Earth Day just to make trouble and get in the news, didn’t you?”

Another woman ran up on the stage and tried to grab my arm. “You’re not telling the whole story, here,” she complained. “I’m sure the police have a reason for arresting him.”

“Why don’t you go talk the police and find out?” the sound man growled. He set up a second mike and we kept the chant going.

“Let him go! Let him go! Let him go! Let him go!”

Then a cheer went up from the street. The mass of people came streaming up the walkway toward us, led by our friend John running and leaping across the grass.

More cheers, and the festival began. No one was charged and John was not hurt. The sun came out, the drums came out, the speakers spoke, folks danced to live music, and we all pledged to care for the earth – and each other.

Photos by Pete Rockwell

Leave a Comment

Filed under Environment, Legal Battles, Love Letters, Zoe Blunt

I get love letters. I get death threats. Out here in Canada’s Wild West, cold cash and brute force have mostly succeeded in subduing the land and anyone who tries to defend it.

Until now. The bullies have met their match.

—————————————–

Highlights from the archive:

I’m No Action Hero
Hate Mail from Haters
Let Them Eat Condos
Great Bear Rainforest: The Clearcut Truth
Kwakiutl: We are Going to Start Fighting
Interview with the Earth Liberation Front
Squat or Die
Why My Dad Killed Himself
How to Oppress Men
Derrick Jensen: This Abusive Civilization
First Nations Activist Dies After Release from Jail
Earth Day Mini-Riot
Vancouver Island Hippies: Top Security Threat for 2010?
Assplode Therapy
Road Kill: Highway Construction Blocked by Protesting “Raccoons”
Live Nude Animals
Dumb Asses Run Our Province

More about me here.

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013-2017 Zoe Blunt

3 Comments

Filed under Zoe Blunt