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From Pittsburgh to Toronto, Standing Up To Hate

UPDATE: Council of Canadians staff member Rachel Small was arrested and charged during the protests against Steve Bannon and David Frum’s debate on November 2nd. She was one of 13 people arrested that night, of the 1500 people that mobilized outside Roy Thomson Hall to reject hate, white supremacy, white nationalism, imperialism, and violence in our communities.The protest successfully delayed the debate by over an hour, and, once it had begun, Bannon was interrupted twice by two banner drops

Police responded by violently attacking protesters, pepper-spraying the crowd, beating people with batons, punching an arrestee in the face, and leaving other arrestees handcuffed in police vans at dangerous temperatures for over 5 hours. 

The following blog, written a few days before the protest, explains why Council staffer Rachel Small took a stand against Bannon being given a platform at the Munk Debate. 

Thoughts on free speech and protesting Steve Bannon in Toronto

This Friday, one of the architects, icons and spokespeople of the white supremacist movement, Steve Bannon, is being given a massive platform. He is to speak in front of a few thousand people at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto (and potentially many thousands more via a live broadcast). The Council of Canadians has joined with a diverse bunch of groups and people who have come together to try to get this event cancelled.

The idea of free speech keeps coming up in Bannon’s defense. Let me be clear on this point. We oppose white supremacists and fascists because of what they do, not what they say. We’re not opposed to free speech; we’re opposed to the fact that they are speaking in order to advance an agenda of hate, violence, and terror. And this week, we saw yet again what this agenda looks like, from the mass shooting by a white supremacist of a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, to the hate-based murder of two black people in Kentucky, to the election of the fascist Bannon-supported candidate Bolsonaro as president of Brazil. These events have added urgency to our actions in Toronto to oppose Bannon. We have no power to censor him or his allies; white supremacists will continue to publish their hateful views in print and online. But we can stop them from coming into our communities to build the power they need to enact their hatred.  

And let’s be honest about how this works. Bannon isn’t coming to Toronto to debate. White supremacists and fascists seek invitations to events like this to try to legitimize their views as part of the political spectrum. By publicly opposing their presence and their legitimization, we make it clear to them—and more importantly, to anyone else interested in joining them—that they will not be able to build their power without a fight.

I grew up in a Jewish family that fled Europe in the 1930s and 40s. I was taught from a very young age that if I ever wondered what I would have done had I been alive at key moments in history when fascism and white supremacy were on the rise, then I need only look at what I am doing right now. In Toronto this month alone, a hotel housing refugees was set on fire, an overt Nazi sympathizer came in third place for mayor–and I repeat myself–this Friday, one of the architects, icons and spokespeople of the white supremacist movement, Steve Bannon, is set to speak in front of thousands.

Now is the time to stand up.

Take action:

CALL The Munk Debate Organizers:

SIGN THE PETITION calling on the Munk Debates to cancel the event:

COME OUT to shut down hate in Toronto this Friday, Nov. 2nd, 5pm, Roy Thomson Hall:

Bring candles. Bring your banners. Bring your voices.  

#NoBannonTO #StopBannon #endwhitesupremacy #endantisemitism #endislamophobia #topoli #onpoli