Since the arrest of Max Guerrero and three other activists, Fightback has launched an international solidarity campaign to oppose the charges. Our appeal to supporters around the world has been met with a resounding level of support. The legal fund we created for our comrade has surpassed it’s target. We have seen thousands of letters in opposition to the charges sent to the city of Hamilton from all over the world. The article we produced following the arrest has been translated into a dozen different languages. People around the world, who would have never heard of a small rust-belt city like Hamilton, now know it as a safe haven for the far right where police and the mayor protect fascists. Where other cities around the world are trying to make themselves sanctuary cities for refugees and other vulnerable people, Hamilton is now known for becoming a sanctuary city for fascists and racists. 

The campaign has made major steps forward. The police are clearly feeling the heat—they sent a couple of police officers to Max’s house just to rattle his cage a bit. This was a clear act of intimidation, which shows that they are feeling the consequences of these arrests. 

The original incident at which Max and other activists were targeted by the police—a fundraiser for the People’s Party of Canada—was the first time a sitting member of Parliament called on fascist street gangs, such as the Soldiers of Odin and the Proud Boys, to run “security”. Our campaign has shown that the Hamilton police took direction from these fascist groups, and then arrested left-wing activists on their behalf.  

Hamilton Police Inspector Dave Hennick went so far as to say that the fascists are the true victims in need of protection. Hennick said in a comment to The Hamilton Spectator, “It’s important that we are listening to our victims, each of the individuals impacted by the events that night, it was significant.” But the movement has exposed this as a sham. We have shared information that at least one of the alleged “victims” is actually a neo-Nazi thug who has assaulted protestors

The police stand entirely discredited. The “victims” the police choose to defend are completely arbitrary. Here is a video of an activist punched in front of a police officer at the Mohawk protest and yet no arrests were made.

An activist getting punched in front of the police

The mayor and city council also stand discredited, and have been seen with members of the neo-Nazi Canadian Nationalist Party

Hamilton City Councillor Esther Pauls with a yellow vester

Rally against police repression

The campaign also took an important step by organizing a public demonstration against the charges prior to our comrade’s first court appearance on Nov. 12. Despite the rally being held at 8 am, and a record-setting snowfall the night before, over 50 people gathered outside the downtown Hamilton courthouse to show solidarity with the arrested comrades and opposition to the charges. Speakers included representatives of the International Marxist Tendency, Fightback, McMaster Indigenous Student Community Alliance, Sex Workers Action Program Hamilton, CUPE Local 3906, Toronto Education Workers Local 4400, Socialist Fightback Students, and a performance from hip-hop artist Lee Reed

The rally started at Gore Park and marched on the street to the courthouse. It was a short walk away but made a clear statement in rush hour traffic. After protest chants, the speeches touched on the various ways police repression has affected various different segments of society. State repression against Indigenous communities, sex workers, unions, and racialized minorities were a constant theme. But it was not just a rally lamenting the existence of repression. The more important aspect was that the rally also brought forward revolutionary hope, not only for the end of repression, but for the end of the system that creates it. Fightback editor Alex Grant in particular raised the fact that this is an international movement. Everywhere in the world we see people rising up and class polarization. In this context the capitalists send their police to defend the far-right against the anger of the workers and the left. Only anti-establishment socialist policies of the left can defeat the fake anti-establishment policies of the right. 

The rally then finished with activists singing “Solidarity Forever” as our comrade went into his first court appearance. The appearance itself was quite a farce—nothing happened. The prosecution declared they did not have their discovery ready for review, so all updates are delayed to a later date. It is clear that they are dragging their feet on the case. The statement by the police said they delayed the arrests so that they could get all their evidence together. Now they are saying the evidence is not ready! 

The response from the city officials

We can safely say that this campaign has been a success. The Hamilton workers and community have come out in support of the targeted left-wing activists. Workers and youth around the world have also shared their solidarity. The police and the mayor are entirely unsure what to do. In response to the letter-writing campaign, the mayor said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on a matter before the courts. This is in every way a stamp of approval for the charges and the conduct of the police, which echoes his support for the police following the fascist attack on Pride earlier this year. 

The police are also feeling the pressure. This is exemplified by their decision to send police officers to Max’s house, as well as the monitoring of Max’s movements and protest activity. It is clear that the campaign is exposing the police practice of protecting fascists and targeting the far-left. And this is finding an echo with the general population of Hamilton. Hamilton is the hate crime capital of Canada, yet the police are busy arresting people who are anti-hate activists. The police also have a terrible history of racism, as seen with the scandal of racially motivated carding just a few years ago. 

Next steps

All this goes to show that the ideas and methods of Marxism are the most effective way to deal with police harassment. These are political arrests, and so our fight must be political. We are able to educate workers on the role of the state through this struggle. But our fight is not done until we have a mass movement against police repression. This fight cannot be left to activists and marginalized communities resisting on their own. We need to get labour involved in the movement. The fight against police repression will knock on the labour movement sooner rather than later.

In Hamilton the transit workers, teachers, and McMaster workers are all set to strike in the next month. We know right-wing Ontario premier Doug Ford will use his power to issue back-to-work legislation to remove the right to strike. Eventually a union will need to defy, and it will be the police that will be used to enforce that back-to-work order. Our task is to bring labour into the movement against police repression and the far-right. If you are a member of a union, we call on you to openly oppose the charges and invite a speaker from the campaign to your next meeting. We know that more serious struggles are to come, and we must be prepared for the role of the police in trying to break the working class in that struggle!

An injury to one is an injury to all!
Drop the charges!

To arrange for a speaker from the campaign to address your union please contact us at fightback@marxist.ca or 416-461-0304.