A protest to demand a public inquiry into the G20 summit is being planned for July 17 in Vancouver.
In contrast to a G20 solidarity march held in Vancouver on July 4, black bloc tactics won’t be welcome at this demonstration.
Ashley Fehr, who’s organizing the upcoming rally and march, told the Straight that the protest will likely feature speakers from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the StopWar.ca coalition.
“We’ve asked the Vancouver Police Department to do a statement as well, just to show that it’s a separate issue and that we don’t necessarily blame the police,” Fehr said via cellphone. “We are asking for the inquiry into what’s happening overall.”
According to Fehr—a 21-year-old political-science student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and a member of Canadians Advocating Political Participation—the protest will also demand that, at all times, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms be upheld and civil liberties be recognized.
Fehr said she was compelled to create a Facebook group and plan the rally by the “terrible and very upsetting” reports on TV and YouTube that showed how police responded to the G20 protests in Toronto.
“There was no consistency, which created confusion, which created a lot of fear,” she said. “The conditions of the people who were arrested and detained were just deplorable. Forty people in a cell that should have fit maybe 10, if that? All sorts of human rights were just violated. That’s my main motivation behind this is just we have human rights for a reason.”
Over the weekend of the G20 summit, police in Toronto arrested more than 1,000 people—the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.
Amnesty International, the Ontario New Democratic Party, the Council of Canadians, and Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May are among those calling for a public inquiry to examine the G20 summit.
The July 17 protest will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Demonstrators will gather at the Vancouver Public Library's central branch and march to Victory Square.
Fehr did not attend the July 4 march, which was held in solidarity with G20 detainees and block bloc activists, and saw protesters burn a Canadian flag and call police officers “pigs”. She noted that she is not comfortable with “black bloc sympathizing” and disagrees with the use of property damage as a protest tactic.
“We’re going to have marshallers, in accordance with police, to make sure if anyone shows up wearing a black bloc mask that they’re asked to remove the mask,” Fehr said. “Or, if they are unwilling to do that, we would ask that they leave. If they don’t, obviously we can’t force them to leave, but we’ll be making sure that it remains peaceful.”
According to Fehr, the march on July 17 is intended to be a demonstration of how peaceful protest is done.
“We’ve taken a very strong stance that violent protesting is not okay, and creating destruction in any way does not help further the democratic process,” Fehr said. “It just scares away anyone who would be sitting on the fence on an issue, and it doesn’t help people get involved.”
You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.