Heavy Police Presence Marks Peaceful Protest Against GMOs At Loblaws
Group Pledges to Picket Bathurst/St. Clair Loblaws Thursday, July 12 at 7 pm, and return to Christie/Dupont Loblaws Thursday, July 19 at 7 pm. Join us!
(If it looks like TASC, if it has placards like TASC, then it must be TASC. Call the Cops before someone goes limp!!!!!)
Although the issue was focused on Loblaws' refusal to stock its shelves with products marked "GMO-free" (GMO stands for genetically modified organisms), members of Not With My Genes You Don't who picketed the Christie-Dupont Loblaws tonight were happy that the homeless in 14 police division were harassed by at least 10 fewer police officers than on a normal night.
In what is likely a new community policing plan -- sending out between 1 and 1.2 cops per demonstrator -- a crowd of leafletters which at times numbered as high as seven was met by a squadron of more than 10 different police officers, who stood in both doorways of Loblaws, and watched the scene from numerous cruisers parked on the street. The police were not allowed to leave until we did, so with a leisurely pace, we handed out flyers for over 90 minutes.
At the beginning of the demo, sponsored by the Corporate Hypocrite Division of Toronto Action for Social Change, a Loblaws representative came over to us to make sure we "knew the rules." When we seemed not to understand, he pointed out that stepping a centimetre on to Loblaws property would result in arrest. In a classic case of "if only Loblaws would have ignored us, we would have been ignored by Loblaws customers," this forced us to call out from the sidewalk to grocery shoppers going in, asking whether they were concerned that Loblaws did not provide proper labeling for their products. We also focused on the profit Loblaws makes from poverty during store-sponsored food drives in which the items that are donated to the food bins are bought in the store at retail, not wholesale, prices. What was remarkable was the fact that so many shoppers seemed to have a major beef with Loblaws -- either on the issue of GMOs, massive plastic packaging, the grocery chain's support of the Harris regime, or the food drive issue -- and yet continued to shop here, when there were independent stores within walking distance.
As we held aloft picket signs mocking the Presidents Choice brand, and held posters saying "Memories of Mutations--only at Loblaws" and GMO= Greedy Malicious Organization=Loblaws," among others, many customers were curious enough to come over, take a flyer, and read it thoroughly. On three separate occasions, shoppers took dozens of flyers in with them to spread around the store. Many were happy to see us -- they had heard in the media reports that Loblaws was refusing to stock any product which had a label reading "GMO-free," and were glad someone was encouraging action on this issue.
Perhaps the public health and safety ramifications of Loblaws' decision struck a chord with shoppers and with police, many of whom read the flyer and some of whom discussed the issue at length with leafletters. One officer, who seemed well-read on the issue of multinational corporate dominance of the planet, even confided his personal dislike of Loblaws because a friend of his, an independent grocer, was forced out of business in Etobicoke when Loblaws moved into the neighbourhood and started applying its muscle.
Until the end of the picket, passersby were startled at the number of police in the area, and kept wondering, as five or six of us walked up and down the length of sidewalk handing out flyers "Where's the demonstration these cops are supposed to be here for?" One enraged woman, upon hearing the history of Loblaws arresting the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus for taking part in similar pickets, went up to a group of officers to give them apiece of her mind.
When we explained that we could not walk on Loblaws property without being arrested, another woman held her daughter close, thanked us for doing this, and remarked to her child, "See honey, it's true they don't allow peaceful protests to occur in this country without harassment."
Because Loblaws has refused to bow to the public's concern regarding labeling of GMOs -- poll after poll reveals over 90% of Canadians want to know what is in their food -- numerous Thursday evening pickets beginning at 7 pm at a variety of Loblaws locations are planned. Who knows, if our numbers grow, and the police continue to respond with greater numbers to the horrid threat of truth being told at Loblaws, we might really take some heat off the homeless in a variety of police divisions for at least a few hours a week.
For more info. on joining upcoming corporate hypocrite pickets, contact Not With Our Genes You Don't at (416) 248-5519 (ask for Dave) or (416) 651-5800.
Photos of GMO Picket at Loblaws:
Picketer with Sign
On the Sidewalk
Some of the Protesters
Talking to a Cop
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