June 18, 2002
The third weekly vigil at Moss Park was a strange affair, one marked by a great deal of verbal abuse and one physical threat of violence from a very angry man inside the armoury. Perhaps this was understandable -- though misdirected -- anger, for this afternoon, the ombudsman for the military released a damning report clearly showed the concerns of the everyday soldier are constantly ignored by the military brass, and that reports of abuse, harassment, and quality of life are ignored or treated as trifling matters by higher-ups.
Earlier in the day, a member of Tornoto indymedia interviewed a Major Allison, in charge of press relations, about why the armoury had been declared a security zone.
He said that this was not in relation to new anti-terrorism legislation, but that the military always reserved the right to declare its zones off limits to non-military personnel. He said the choice of words may have been a bit careless, and that he would investigate the situation. A similar call was placed to war Minister John McCallum's office, but they didn't seem to know what was going on.
When folks arrived for the vigil, the sign informing us of the security zone in effect was still up, the gates were closed, and two soldiers stood attention behind them. One of them asked repeatedly that we not stand in front of the fence to hand out flyers to cars, as we were only giving ourselves a headache and everyone else a headache.
"If you are afraid of us breaching the barbed wire fence, don't worry, as we will certainly inform you of when we are planing to do that. And we ARE planning to do that later this year, but you'll have lots of advance notice," we reassured him, catching him off guard.
Many of those entering the armoury this evening were angry, waving us off as they sped through the gates, while those walking in told us to get jobs, lives, out of their faces, etc. One particulary angry chap starting hurling verbal abuse at two of the leafketters at the gates, turning every once in a while to make physical threats. We asked why he was so angry and we he didn't want to engage in civil dialogue. "'Cause you're a bunch of fucking clods!" he screamed.
Well, at least we now have an interesting potential name for a new affinity group.
Meanwhile, a blues guitarist showed up out of nowhere and on a Mississippi guitar that souned much like a dobro, sang a moving song about the "friendly fire" incident which claimed the lives of four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, including Ainsworth Dyer, a young man from Regent Park who likely traind at this armoury. "When they drop a 500-lb bomb on you, I don't know how they can call it 'friendly,'" he sang.
Plans for more guitars and music, along with chalking, are afoot for the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the nightly news reported that an inquiry into that "friendly fire" incident revealed the U.S. pilots had not followed proper procedure. While it is indeed tragic that these four Canadians were murdered by militarism, we eagerly await a similar inquiry of concern over the fate of thousands of Afghanis also killed when 500-lb bombs obliterated their homes and communities. Was that too a violation of procedure or, more likely, simply the way we wage war against poor people in a distant land?
Don't forget the weekly Tuesday vigils at Moss PArk, 7-8:30 pm, and join us Monday, July 1 at Fort York Armoury for a walk from Fort York to Moss PArk to demand that the armouries be opened (now four weeks since that motion was passed at city council.)
Back to Moss Park Home Page