Article by Brandon Gray.
I was the anarchist Doug Ford told to “get a job” at the People’s Delegation to City Hall – an action which resulted in a coalition of grassroots community organizations crashing a Toronto municipal budget committee meeting on February 10 to protest proposed cuts to social services.
This exchange occurred shortly before I was tackled by his armed thugs and imprisoned in the basement of the notorious 52 Division – whose notoriety stems, in part, from a 2004 probe which implicated a dozen of its officers in drug trafficking and the operation of an organized crime network. As I was being led to a small room, one of the officers on duty taunted that he wished he could be the one to administer my strip search. Later that night, after loudly asserting that we were “spoiled” for being placed one person per cell, another of “Toronto’s finest” took sick satisfaction out of turning off the heat for the evening.
This particularly sadistic individual then proceeded to mock my requests to be given my coat – as I was wearing sweaty, thin, ripped clothing that left me shivering the hours away on a steel slab in a concrete cell during a cold snap of -16.3 Celsius. I was released after 30 hours of illegitimate detention with abrasions down the left side of my face, my wrists cut and bruised from tight handcuffing; my left knee, already sore from recent reconstructive surgery following a workplace accident, was badly inflamed from the attack, and my right shoulder and neck were aching from being choked and kneed in the back.
My arrest and subsequent imprisonment are criminal transgressions on my liberty and safety that have caused my family, friends, and supporters much trouble and grief. According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I am supposed to have the right to public protest without being attacked by the police, but in reality – as many realized this past summer during the G20 – no such right actually exists. During last summer’s protests my spouse received a concussion from riot police, who charged her as she peacefully stood outside the police kettle at Queen and Spadina that I had been trapped inside. One billion dollars was spent on beating my friends and fellow activists, kidnappings in unmarked vans carried out by plainclothes cops, illegal detainment, sexual harassment and military interrogation techniques, and throwing many lives into shambles through outlandish judicial repression.
Ford’s ‘get a job’ quip, subsequently seized upon by the corporate media, is a common crutch used by cops and right-wingers to avoid responding intelligently to urgent social problems and the left-wing ideologies that set out to solve them. As an activist, I am quite familiar with this thoughtless rebuke – that is why I have made a habit of preemptively telling officers to ‘quit the force and get a real job’ at public demonstrations.
After Ford denied the quip, and was subsequently confronted with a recording, reporters then asked him if he would apologize. His response: “I don’t apologize to anarchists.”