(January 31st, 2017) Since the string of revolutionary street art began to appear around town on Monday of last week and the March Against School Closures on Tuesday January 24th, the police have intensified their attacks on the Sudbury chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM-Sudbury).
A small group of RSM supporters were chased by unidentified men in the downtown core that Monday afternoon. The men pursued the supporters for several blocks, yelling that they believed our supporters were responsible for spray painting a building.
We saw a dramatically increased police presence at our demonstration against public school closures on January 24th. Surveillance was heavy, with cops taking pictures of attendees’ faces and recording conversations. At the end of the demonstration, police approached and then pursued a group of RSM supporters and organizers for a short distance as they were leaving together.
Later on Thursday evening, January 26th, during what was supposed to be our public Winter Semester Orientation at Laurentian University, police occupied the meeting room before we arrived preventing the Orientation from taking place. One RSM supporter who was on the scene was questioned and threatened by police. The cops pressed them for information even after they said they were not willing to share any. They threatened to charge the supporter with obstruction of justice for not giving their name and other information, and implied that ‘liking’ the RSM-Sudbury Facebook page was grounds for laying charges. After asking a number of times if the supporter had been at the demonstration on January 24th and receiving no answer, they attempted and failed to arrest them for trespassing at the Rainbow District School Board office under the assumption they had been at the demo.
And a few days ago, police invaded the home of a supporter and searched their residence without a warrant. They used intimidation and fear tactics to enter the premises, threatening to surround the house on all sides until a warrant to search could be obtained. The cops then searched the house under the pretense they were looking for somebody, but turned over every corner of the place where no person could hide, even inside dresser drawers, under mattresses, and through the contents of their desk. This is despite not laying any charges! They’ve continued to harass this person, showing up at their home three times now, and have shown up at the homes of other supporters as well. No RSM supporters have offered any information despite police intimidation and we continue to urge others to not to talk to the police either.
This heavy-handed police repression may look like a totally unprecedented attack on RSM-Sudbury, but the RSM has faced police surveillance and repression to a lesser degree since its inception. This is in the context of a general strengthening of the repressive state apparatus which targets any radical elements in society that call capitalism and its markers into question. We are facing a blatant attempt to stifle any further political activity of RSM-Sudbury because they see us as a threat.
We won’t allow them to intimidate us! RSM-Sudbury will continue to struggle against this rotten settler-colonial capitalist system, the state which protects it, and its many manifestations including the closures of eight public schools in our city!
We will continue to hold weekly public meetings on the Laurentian University campus. The meeting scheduled for this Thursday February 2nd will be cancelled, but regular weekly meetings will resume on Thursday February 9th at 6pm. All those interested in joining the fight are welcome to attend.
Solidarity with all targets of capitalist political repression!
Resist the campaign of police intimidation and terror!
Dare to struggle, dare to win!
On the Recent Wave of Revolutionary Street Art in Sudbury
The social media frenzy over the spray-painted slogans was in full swing by Monday morning last week. The local media outlets started to pick up the story soon thereafter. By lunchtime the news had already spread and mutated all over town. And over a week later, the wild speculation continues unabated, fueled by the appearance of more slogans.
How could something so commonplace as some red paint, hurriedly sprayed here and there, bring Sudbury to such a stir? What gave it the power to delight so many, enrage others, and escape notice by no one? Could it be that, unlike the usual graffiti we walk past every day, this time the bright red paint expresses a bright red politics, the politics of revolution? Let’s examine the scenes.
At one end of town: the garish Laurentian University lawn-display at the main campus entrance was appropriately transformed into a giant dollar sign. A slogan denouncing the capitalist post-secondary education system was included to complete the piece, which appeared in the heart of Sudbury’s enclave of the rich.
At the other end of town: walls around the working-class Donovan neighbourhood were emblazoned with revolutionary slogans. The planned mass closure of public schools was condemned in bold letters. Many of the Donovan pieces identified the RSM by name, likely in solidarity with RSM-Sudbury’s ongoing campaign against the school closures.
And downtown, two days later: similar slogans appeared on the office of the Rainbow District School Board, which is implementing the province’s austerity measures locally via the school closures and program cuts. This was the day after the march on the RDSB office led by RSM-Sudbury on Tuesday, Jan 24th.
A beautiful array of popular art, to be sure! And although RSM-Sudbury humbly denies responsibility for this sudden bloom of revolutionary expression, let it be known widely that we are in full support of whomever took this initiative!
We commend them for bringing much-needed attention, strikingly and without shame, to the struggles against the oppressive system that surrounds us. We’re also proud that the artist(s) gave a nod to our organization in some of their pieces, an organization that fights hard to build the revolutionary movement against capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. We join the many online and on-the-ground observers in applauding these actions. With the proper organization and revolutionary direction, the spirit of militancy and rebellion shown here can move mountains!
Yet there are also some who complain about ‘vandalism’, even openly call for violence and state repression against those responsible. They care more about the purity of a few walls than about the cuts and closures imposed on working-class youth, the inaccessibility of post-secondary education for most of us, or its subservience to the interests of profiteers instead of the people! Their misplaced concern is amplified by the deletion of supportive comments from the discussion sections of local news articles. But these crocodile tears and cheap tricks fail to sway anyone who unequivocally sides with the downtrodden against their oppressors.
Now in light of the ongoing police investigation into the past week’s events, and political repression aimed at RSM after the Jan 24th demonstration, we must remind everyone that the cops are not friends of the workers and oppressed people! They are the first line of defense against disruption of the unjust status quo. We urge everyone to refrain from talking to the cops and avoid providing any information that may put the brave artist(s) at risk. It is our duty to stand united alongside those who dare to fight for our collective liberation.
RSM-Sudbury will continue to agitate, organize and push the class struggle ever forward. We wholeheartedly support anyone who shows similar commitments, and we encourage them to reach out and connect their efforts with ours without delay.
Let graffiti drawings and writings be generalized in the workplace, neighborhoods, schools, universities, centers of street vendors, or workers in general. Let graffiti be in big bold letters on the walls, because only there can the people really see and express their democracy. The walls are the sheets of books where the people write their prose, their poems, their literary works to air their demands, their struggles and the songs of the Revolution… And let’s not care if the masses make spelling mistakes. They will learn later on. Let them write on the walls how they participate in the war. Let them criticize what is wrong… Thus, with the graffiti, the masses express true people’s democracy in writing…
May Directives for Metropolitan Lima
Communist Party of Peru, 1991