By One Toronto Member, One Hamilton Member, One Former Member
Building a Culture of Working-class Resistance
Some of the most iconic and inspiring images of popular resistance come from riots and insurrectional moments which, to outside observers, appear on televisions and computer screens as spontaneous reactions to a singularly egregious incident of police brutality. Yet for every anti-police riot that grabs the media's attention, there are countless daily acts of oppression and defiance that may not make the news, but which all play a contributing role in kicking things off. Rather than morbidly waiting around for the police to kill someone before springing into action, anarchists and anti-authoritarian revolutionaries who want to see more anti-police uprisings should seize every opportunity to exploit the daily social tensions that produce them. This means actively participating in building a culture of opposition and hostility to police that permeates all aspects of working-class life.
Organizing against the police can, and should be incorporated into community struggles around housing, and against the violent gentrification of our neighbourhoods. Police Community Liaison Committees should be systematically infiltrated, and business and property owners who zealously collaborate with police to push out poor and racialized neighbourhood residents should be made to understand that this practice is unacceptable. Community meetings of parents and teachers should be organized, and campaigns should be launched demanding that police be removed from public schools. Building committees and neighbourhood watch programs should be organized, and militants should make the case that neighbours not collaborate with police and immigration enforcement officials. Raising this demand should open space for building a more expansive definition of collaboration that includes any activity that increases social divisions, and allows the police to justify its presence in the community.
Our principled opposition to police should spill into our workplaces, as well. Anarchists should be talking to our co-workers about police on smoke breaks, and in the lunch room. Retail workers should organize with their co-workers to demand that their store enact a "no-chase" policy, or barring that, for an informal agreement among staff that nobody calls security on shoplifters, because nobody should have to bear the responsibility of someone getting arrested and potentially going to jail, just for stealing from the boss.
Finally, anarchists should also actively participate in organizations that focus exclusively on combating police violence in ways that go beyond organizing one-off rallies and demonstrations. In Toronto, a number of anarchists, including several members of Common Cause, are active within the Network for the Elimination of Police Violence (NEPV), an organization that conducts community outreach and education on a variety of topics related to policing, and which provides material support and assistance to grassroots anti-policing initiatives based in the city's most marginalized neighbourhoods. While its methodology for community organizing, and internal political education program is still a work in progress, NEPV has witnessed significant growth and development over the past year, and its model is one with potential to spread to other cities across southern Ontario, and beyond.