Stop Proud Boys From Intimidating and Bullying at Laurier
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Please consider signing this open letter concerning the intimidation tactics used by a far right group against Wilfrid Laurier students. Instructions on how to sign are below.
Far right organizing is surging in Canada as well as the United States. Since their Charlottesville, Virginia, rallies in early August, far right groups have called on their supporters to attend rallies in Toronto, Vancouver (Aug. 19), London (Aug. 26), Ottawa (Sept. 30), St. Bernard la Colle (Sept. 30), Quebec City (Nov. 25).
Last week, they called out supporters again in Waterloo and Brantford, on and near two campuses of Wilfrid Laurier University.
Although the far right draws in support for their cause by expressing seemingly legitimate political positions around free speech and multiculturalism, they are, to varying degrees, virulently sexist, trans-phobic, homophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic. Their goal is not to debate and discuss ideas, but to instill fear in people organizing for social justice, and loathing against marginalized peoples.
The rallies have been met with counter-protests at every turn. As Vancouver’s mayor Gregor Robertson, said about a recent rally in his city, “People have a right of demonstrate, but hatred and racism has no place in this city. And I expect people to confront that and to make sure there is a peaceful and direct pushback on racism and hatred. It is really important that people speak out at every opportunity against racism and hatred."
We will need to continue to be vigilant, and work to build the confidence and strength of those who are vulnerable to the violence and intimidation. This letter was initiated in response to that violence and intimidation as it has manifest on WLU’s Brantford campus. We invite you to sign, as a gesture of solidarity.
Please send your name and university affiliation to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
OPEN LETTER RESPONDING TO PROUD BOYS DISRUPTION OF STUDENT MEETING
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, a far-right group known as the Proud Boys disrupted a student meeting on the Brantford campus of Wilfrid Laurier University. This letter is signed by faculty from Laurier and other Canadian universities who condemn that disruption and who uphold the right of students to meet on our campuses free of bullying and intimidation.
Laurier Brantford students met to launch a chapter of the Campus Anti-Fascist Network (CAN). CAN was initiated in the United States in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, and the growing presence of far-right groups on university campuses.
The students were responding to earlier efforts by the far-right to organize on campus. The Proud Boys who disrupted their meeting are a self-described Western chauvinist fraternal organization, with local chapters popping up in mostly Canadian and U.S. cities, and include as one of their “values” “venerating the housewife”. While claiming not to be racist, some of their members actively participated in the rally at Charlottesville in which openly fascist protesters chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, and drove a car into a counter-protest, killing one protester. In Halifax, the Proud Boys physically disrupted a Mikmaq ceremony this past July. And Proud Boys regularly show up at Islamophobic rallies at Toronto City Hall, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with white supremacist organizations like the Soldiers of Odin and the Northern Guard.
Unfortunately, the concerns that led Laurier Brantford students to organize a CAN chapter were not misplaced. Several Proud Boys members arrived at their first meeting. They rallied outside the meeting doors, and entered the room, many wearing their organizations’ uniform. The Proud Boys disrupted the meeting and took video of the CAN members which they later posted on Facebook – an intimidation tactic they’ve used in Toronto and elsewhere to encourage trolling and doxxing. They refused to leave when asked.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about free speech on university campuses, including at Laurier. Like other members of the Laurier community, we too are concerned with the status and protection of free speech on university campuses and are deeply committed to open and free exchange of ideas. But for this to happen, students need access to learning spaces that are not based on intimidation and bullying tactics. While far-right groups may defend these tactics in the name of ‘free speech’, these tactics are intended to cause harm to and/or shut down those who engage in anti-racist, feminist, queer and other social justice activism, thereby undermining free speech ideals. Their aim is not to promote free speech, but to intimidate.
We stand with students and others who challenge racism, sexism and all forms of injustice, and assert the right to meet in safe campus spaces to learn, explore, and raise awareness about attempts by the far-right to lay roots at Laurier and elsewhere in Canada and beyond.
Holly Baines, Sociology and Women & Gender Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University; Professional Communications and Interdisciplinary Studies, Royal Roads University
Abderrahman Beggar, Religion and Culture, Wilfrid Laurier University,
Greg Bird, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Kari Brozowski, Community Health, Public Health & Health Administration, Wilfrid Laurier University
James Cairns, Social & Environmental Justice, Wilfrid Laurier University
Debra Chapman, Political Science, North American Studies, Global Studies, and Human Rights and Human Diversity, Wilfrid Laurier University
Hugo De Marinis, Languages and Literatures, Wilfrid Laurier University
Peter Eglin, Professor Emeritus, Sociology
Kimberly Ellis-Hale, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Sue Ferguson, Digital Media & Journalism, Wilfrid Laurier University
Nick Garside, Brantford Foundations, Wilfrid Laurier University
Todd Gordon, Law & Society, Wilfrid Laurier University
Jeremy Hunsinger, Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
Clarice Kuhling, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Sharon Marquart, Languages and Literatures, Wilfrid Laurier University
Sara Matthews, Global Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
Audra Mitchell (she/her or they/them), CIGI Chair in Global Governance & Ethics, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University
Patricia Molloy, Communication Studies Department, Wilfrid Laurier University
Marcia Oliver, Law & Society, Wilfrid Laurier University
Vanessa Oliver, Youth & Children’s Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
Garry Potter, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Natasha Pravaz, Anthropology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Ashwani Peetush, Philosophy, Wilfrid Laurier University
Helen Ramirez, Women & Gender Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
Jennifer Root, Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University
Ellen Russell, Digital Media & Journalism, Wilfrid Laurier University
Kim Rygiel, Political Science & Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University
Ciann Wilson, Community Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Jasmin Zine, Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University
Magi Abdul-Masih, Chair in Catholic Studies, Saint Mary’s University
Greg Albo, Politics, York University
Himani Bannerji, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, York University
Trycia Bazinet, Indigenous and Canadian Studies, Carleton University (PhD candidate)
Simon Black, Labour Studies, Brock University
Deborah Brock, Sociology, York University
Michael Bueckert, Sociology and Political Economy, Carleton University (PhD candidate)
David Camfield, Labour Studies & Sociology, University of Manitoba
Aziz Choudry, Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University
Rebecca Comay, Philosophy, University of Toronto
Deborah Cowen, Geography & Planning, University of Toronto
Steve D'Arcy, Philosophy, Huron University College
Scott Forsyth, Cinema & Media Arts/Politics, York University
Ruth A. Frager, History, McMaster University
Kanishka Goonewardena, Geography and Planning, University of Toronto
Julie Guard, Labour Studies and History, University of Manitoba
Larry Haiven, Professor Emeritus, Saint Mary's University
Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, Lakehead University
David Heap, French & Linguistics, University of Western Ontario
Andrew Houston, Theatre and Performance, University of Waterloo
Ian Hudson, Economics, University of Manitoba
Suzan Ilcan, Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo, and Balsillie School of International Affairs
Kamala Kempadoo, Social Science, York University.
Gary Kinsman, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Laurentian University
Stefan Kipfer, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Kirk Kitzul, School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies, Carleton University (Master's candidate)
Xavier Lafrance, Département de science politique, Université du Québec à Montréal
Abby Lippman, Professor Emeria, Mcgill University
John Loxley, Economics, University of Manitoba
David McNally, Politics, York University
Colin Mooers, Politics & Public Administration, Ryerson University
Mahtab Nazemi, Education, Thompson Rivers University
Michael Ornstein, Sociology, York university
Mathieu Perron-Dufour, sciences sociales, Université du Québec en Outaouais
Justin Podur, Environmental Studies, York University
Alan Sears, Sociology, Ryerson University
Rashmee Singh, Sociology & Legal Studies, University of Waterloo
Adrian Smith, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University
Penni Stewart, Sociology, York University
Mark Thomas, Sociology, York University
D. Alissa Trotz, Caribbean Studies at New College and Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto
Don Wells, Professor Emeritus, Labour Studies and Political Science, McMaster University
Thom Workman, Political Science, University of New Brunswick
Cynthia Wright, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, York University
Devin Zane Shaw, Philosophy, Carleton University.
For more information about the most prominent post-Charlottesville far-right organizing and counter-protests in Canada, see the summaries of the linked reports below:
Aug. 19, Vancouver: The Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (Canada) and the Cultural Action Party called a rally at which It planned to have speakers from the anti-immigrant vigilante group, The Soldiers of Odin. The far right failed to show up in any great numbers when 4,000 counter protesters took over the streets.
London, Aug. 26: Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West, a far-right group with roots in Germany’s (PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), called a rally, with the support of an anti-Islam militia-style group called the Three Percent Canada. They were overwhelmingly outnumbered, and later that week, “London's city council passed a motion affirming that activities that promote hate would be banned in the city.”
Ottawa, Sept. 30: The Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens brought out “a few dozen” supporters to protest immigration laws. A larger counter rally shouted them down on Parliament Hill. On the same day, a far-right rally and counter protest took place in the Quebec border town of St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
Quebec City, Nov. 25: 300 to 400 supporters of far-right groups, including Storm Alliance, La Meute and Atalante Quebec (an explicitly neo-fascist group) marched, with police cooperation, in Quebec City. They outnumbered the counter rally, and the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, is now calling on politicians to “open your eyes” to the threat the far-right represents.
Toronto: Far-right and neo-fascist groups have been rallying regularly at City Hall. They are met by counter protesters every time. A recent call to rally in the Beach neighbourhood was called off when Riverdale Against Racism called for on Torontonians to join them in a festive occupation of the park where the rally was planned.
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