Vancouver activists exercise rights, defy police intimidation

Activists set up the Vancouver Committee to Defend Freedom of Expression to fight back after Transit Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police assaulted and detained three people distributing the free newspaper, “Fire This Time,” at a public transit SkyTrain station last Aug. 31.

Just three weeks later, 20 freedom of speech defenders successfully distributed 1,000 free newspapers at the same station. They called out, “Get your copy of ‘Fire This Time’ — Vancouver’s social justice newspaper” and “Free, independent social justice news!”

“Fire This Time” contains articles opposing war and supporting struggles in Canada from Indigenous rights to labor organizing. Police had harassed distributors for four months leading up to the Aug. 31 assault and detention. Cops issued no citations, but kept the confiscated newspapers. A video of the arrest was erased from a detainee’s phone while in police hands.

In an Aug. 28 note, “Fire This Time” Editorial Board member Thomas Davies — one of the three assaulted — thanked Workers World Party for its support and WW newspaper’s coverage.

Davies wrote: “We are writing to thank you for the coverage of the recent police assault on the Fire This Time newspaper in your online article, ‘Canada rightists persecute activists.’ (Sept. 17)

“We appreciate very much this active solidarity, which comes from the very correct understanding that, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’ This is a good example for the leftist and progressive movement.

“We are continuing to build the campaign to defend the rights of all poor and working people through the founding of the Vancouver Committee to Defend Freedom of Expression. You can view the website which includes all of our statements, videos, photos, and other resources at: www.stoppoliceassault.com.”