Statement of the West Indian People’s Organization Issued on the Occasion of the November 6, 1977 Demonstration Against State-Organized Racist Attqcks
Recently a barrage of racist attacks has been taking place against our people. These attacks have been taking many forms, but the one thing common to all of them is that they are organized by the Canadian state.
– People are being attacked on the streets by fascist gangs like the “Western Guard” who are organized and encouraged by the police.
– The police themselves are launching warlike gang raids on our community and brutalizing us. West Indians are regularly stopped on the street, searched and harassed. The police are paying particular attention to attacking and beating up the youths in the community. On Sunday, October 23, more than thirty (30) policemen launched one of these attacks on youths at a party on College Street. They then arrested two of the youths and charged them with assaulting and obstructing the police.
– The Immigration Department officials and the RCMP are constantly pounding on our doors, raiding our homes and workplaces looking for what they call “illegal” immigrants. They are issuing deportation orders against landed immigrants who have been living here for many years, like the domestics. They are harassing West Indians at the airport and humiliating them, then deporting many on a daily basis.
– The federal government has just passed a new Immigration Act, Bill C-24, which is aimed at terrorizing all West Indians, East Indians and other immigrants into accepting the slave-like rule of the rich in this country. This new act seeks to deport a large number of us for showing any resistance to the rich. This Act comes after the same government put out books called the “Green Paper” on immigration filled with racist ideas to stir up hatred against West Indian and East Indian people.
– The newspapers of the rich pay great attention to carrying hostile articles against West Indians. They slander our people here and portray them as thieves, criminals and pimps and do propaganda to turn the rest of the Canadian people against us. They write degrading articles about our people in the West Indies showing them as fools who are not worth much except as servants to foreigners and tourists.
– The education system of the rich discriminates against our children. They are placed in special classes and given lower grades than the average student despite their ability. Those West Indians studying here on student visas are harassed by the immigration officials and are being forced to pay higher tuition fees.
– Most of all, we are facing increased racial discrimination by the bosses at the workplace. Unless we accept working for the worst pay and in the poorest conditions, we are the first to be fired when laying off begins and the last to be hired. West Indians are brought in the thousands each year to work as farm slaves and domestics. They are denied the smallest rights. They are not allowed to change jobs or to move about freely or to receive the benefits given to other workers. They are made to work long hours without overtime pay and to live in the poorest conditions. Whenever they raise a voice in protest against these things, they are immediately kicked out of the country. This is the reality of what West Indians face in this country. All these racist attacks on our community are organized by the rich, their state and its many agencies. Some people would like us to believe that this is what “fate” holds for West Indians. We reject this completely! What is happening to us here is taking place because of the capitalist system; because of this system where man exploits man; because of this system where a small group of rich people is seeking to become even richer by continuing to exploit and oppress the vast majority of the people. This is the system which dominates our homeland in the West Indies and which also dominates the people here in Canada.
Racism and racial discrimination are part of this system. It is one of the ideas which the rich, their state and all its agencies use to attack the people in order to divide us and so make it easier to exploit us.
The capitalist system is in crisis. Here in Canada the rich are trying to make the people pay for this crisis. They are therefore passing laws and regulations like the wage and price control Bill C-73, which makes illegal the struggles of the workers for suitable pay and better working conditions. They have also made changes in the Unemployment Insurance Act which will take away the UIC benefits from tens of thousands of workers. The West Indian people face additional exploitation. The anti-immigrant Bill C-24 has been made law in order to further attack our community, the East Indian community and other immigrant communities. The rich organize racist attacks to terrorize these communities into accepting their repressive rule.
Ever since West Indians began coming to Canada in the 1700’s, they have had to fight against racist attacks organized by the Canadian state. A good example of this is the fight which the community carried out against the state from 1796 until 1800 when over 500 West Indians were deported under force of arms. In that four year span the West Indians refused to accept the rule of the rich here in Canada. This is the proud history of our people fighting against the main organizers of the racist attacks, that is, the state. We will continue to uphold this fighting history. We will defend ourselves and beat back the state-organized racist attacks. There is no other way to deal with the physical attacks on our people by the fascist groups and the police, the Immigration Department and the government.
Since West Indian People’s Organization was formed in January of this year we have learnt many lessons on how to deal with these state-organized racist attacks. We have learnt that we cannot depend on the West Indian governments or their representatives here to protect the community when attacked. Almost all of these semi-colonial governments have launched attacks on West Indians abroad, calling them traitors and runaways. These governments are the new overseers of the American, British and other foreign exploiters’ plunder of the land and labour of the West Indian people. It is because of their sellout of the West Indies that thousands of West Indians are forced to flee to places like Canada, England and the United States to look for ways to make a living. In this way these sellouts provide the rich in Canada with cheap labour. They therefore have no interest in protecting West Indians in Canada.
We know how the Canadian state is terrified whenever they see West Indians organizing as a community to fight them. In the summer of 1975 West Indians living in Jamestown Crescent in Etobicoke, beat back the fascist “Western Guard” who were attacking them. The state immediately swamped the area with police to give the racists protection while they carried out their attacks. They laid threats to the West Indians that they must not defend themselves by fighting back against the racists. The West Indians defied this threat, united and defended themselves whenever attacked. The police arrested and charged one of the youths for defending the community.
In Regent Park in the summer of 1976, the same fascists organized a gang to attack the West Indians living there. Again our people united and defended themselves. They made complaints to the police about the racist attacks but the police never acted. Instead they arrested and charged one of the West Indian youths for being prepared to defend his home.
The state is terrified because they know that our unity is our strength. They know that united, we West Indians will never allow them to carry on attacking our community. The government is therefore threatening and harassing the true patriots in the West Indian community who are organizing the people to defend themselves. The RCMP is constantly following, harassing and doing surveillance on the progressive and democratic West Indians. At the same time they are setting up various traitors to the people and agencies in the community to divide the people. These traitors tell us that we should not fight the racist state but that we should depend on the courts, the police, the Immigration Department and the government (the same people who are attacking us) to stop these racist attacks. They come to tell us stories about the “goodness” of the Human Rights Commission, that the police “salt and pepper” squad is there to help us and that more “Black” people in high offices will get rid of discrimination and racism. We West Indians must reject all these ideas and false solutions. The gods of plague can never give a cure. These ideas are given because the state wants the community to be defenceless when it launches the next round of attacks.
The only way to deal with the state-organized racist attacks is to unite the broadest section of our community in its defence organization, West Indian People’s Organization, to fight the racist attacks. The honour and self respect of our community is at stake. We West Indians will stand up and fight off these attacks of the rich.
WIPO calls on all the people to unite to fight the state-organized racist attacks. The West Indian community will unite w ith all other national minority communities and the Canadian people who are opposed to racist attacks organized by the rich and their state.
BLAME THE RICH AND NOT THE PEOPLE FOR RACIST ATTACKS!
DOWN WITH THE STATE-ORGANIZED RACIST ATTACKS ON THE PEOPLE!
SELF-DEFENCE IS THE ONLY WAY!