Milloy’s Office Shut Down… Again! November 15th Action Recap

November 15, 2012; Kitchener—Poverty Makes Us Sick, with the SPOT Collective and the Alliance Against Poverty (AAP) were joined by the community for another disruptive action at the constituency office of John Milloy, Minister of Community and Social Services.   Twenty-two people took part in the day’s actions to stop the cancellation of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB).  John Milloy was there.  His back office was taken over and John was confronted for his assault on the poor.  Police arrived in large numbers, some of them had machine guns, yet the sergeant in charge was happy to hear us out and express her support of our cause while discussing concepts of justice and ethics vs. the written law.  Two catch-and-release arrests resulted from this successful shut down of the office.*  One of those arrested even made it back in time to the office to continue protesting, much to the staff’s surprise.  The office was unable to function from the moment the protesters arrived.

The office is now using controlled entrance, so a woman who had not recently participated in a protest at Milloy’s volunteered to gain entry – asking for assistance with a passport application.  She held the door for the rest of us.

Upon entry, speeches were delivered, with noteworthy eloquence from the person who held the door open for us.  The staff stated that they support the cuts.

Alison Murray of PMUS educates Milloy staffer on real costs of cuts to the CSUMB

Then it was brought to the group’s attention that John was in his back office!

The twelve folks who entered the office could hold space in three separate rooms, while Noel, and Stacey, led Ian of PMUS and Julian of the SPOT Collective in a disruption of Milloy’s meeting.

John was filmed as he was questioned and challenged about the cuts to the CSUMB.  John did not speak for the entire duration of our visit.  Julian and Ian also engaged, demanding answers from John and questioning his staff’s clear support of the cuts.

Disruption continued elsewhere in the office.

While filming John, and with two staff yelling at the group, Ian again managed to answer the office phone!  “Minister of Misery, we hate the poor.”

John was forced to adjourn his meeting and asked his guest to wait outside.  He was filmed the whole time and would not say a word to questions such as: “My Mom had to move us out of an abusive situation when I was little.  What’s she supposed to do now?”

John then decided to lock himself in another room.  His meeting guests left.  The first cop entered.  The cops stood by patiently as Ian, Julian and Stacey banged on the door and the group yelled “shame” in rhythm.

Numerous police engaged in a productive dialogue with protesters.  We discussed the official channels that police had to oppose these cuts among other important subjects.  We also informed them that they could leave.

Julian, Ian and Stacey were still sitting, arms linked, in front of the room the Milloy was hiding in.  Every now and then they would start banging on the door and the group would chant.  The cops would politely wait for us and then re-engage in offering their support for our cause.

Police and protesters chatting about justice, ethics and the law

Ian had been issued a trespassing order by staff when he first arrived and the three copies he had ripped up, in succession, sat in a pile on the floor.  Milloy’s staff wanted punitive measures for this as well.  The Sergeant looked at Ian and said; “I don’t care that you did that.”

Staff continued belittling some of the protesters.  While the chat with the cops hit new heights of intellectual muster, Noel took out a dirty baby diaper, threw it on the pile of trespassing orders and told the staff: “this is you.” Noel then expressed her anger that she was not being engaged in her first language and continued addressing the staff in French.

Throughout this entire disruption all of the participants took their turns expressing themselves and outlining the devastation that this cut will create.  We all said: “This is too important.  We will not let the cut happen.”

Ian and Julian were arrested and others were removed.  Though Julian states that he was treated well by the cop who arrested him, it must be noted that Ian was not handcuffed while Julian was.  Julian walks with a cane.  Ian is more visibly able-bodied.

When the cop got in the cruiser, with Ian in the back he said: “where are ya going?”. Ian joked: “The Queen Street Commons Café”. The officer typed it into his GPS.  When he dropped Ian off at the café he did issue a ticket along with an apology for having to do so. Julian was dropped off at home.

Ian Stumpf of Poverty Makes Us Sick waiting to be chauffeured to the Queen Street Commons Cafe, his destination of choice, after being arrested and issued a trespass ticket.

Activists show their solidarity as two arrested protesters are driven away by police.

More protesters had arrived at Milloy’s office, so Ian went down to the cop shop to gather those who were doing arrest support.  The group went back to Milloy’s and while the AAP held their monthly meeting out front of Milloy’s office, the rest of us did some rush hour picketing and property beautification.  A sign that once read; John Milloy Kitchener Centre, now reads: John Milloy’s che centre.  A new sign was also left, replacing one of his signs.  It reads: John Milloy, Minister of Homelessness.

*The experience that we have had to date with members of the Waterloo Regional Police Services in our actions at Milloy’s have been relatively positive, bordering on cordial even.  However, we know that this same police force does not, and will not, hesitate to target and brutalize the poor, marginalized, racialized, homeless, and young people who live in our community today and who will be even more vulnerable to their abuses should the CSUMB cuts come into effect.  The individual compassion of these officers, and their acknowledgement of the negative impact that further cuts to the much-needed supports to the poor will have, do not change these truths.  Further, we stand in solidarity with our activist allies in Sudbury, whose treatment at the hands of Sudbury police should make absolutely clear the role of police in enforcing state brutality on those who dissent.

What the F@$% is that?! Just one of the many weapons brought to the scene by police in the face of this peaceful occupation.

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