Punch Up has signed on to this statement, drafted by a range of groups and organizations, in opposition to Bill 251, the so-called “Combating Human Trafficking Act.” This Act will do little to actually prevent human trafficking, but will expand police powers, something that endangers all of us.
“We call on all Ontario provincial political parties and Members of Provincial Parliament to reject Bill 251. We call on Ontario to stop the expansion of policing, defund police services, and redirect resources towards marginalized communities. We further call on Ontario to adopt a human rights-based approach to human trafficking that centers labour rights, migrant rights, and sex workers’ rights and addresses the numerous structural barriers including poverty, precarious immigration status, and lack of access to affordable housing, health and social services that contribute to the risks of human trafficking.”
Punch Up Collective is proud to sign on to the this statement, crafted by a range of prisoner justice, abolitionist and otherwise rad organizations. It calls for the defunding and dismantling of punitive state institutions, and the construction of, and investment in, alternatives that actually keep our communities safe. The statement reads, in part:
We can choose to build safe communities! We, the undersigned, are invested in building safe communities for all. We believe that as a society we are capable of preventing harm and violence differently than the failed punitive approaches governments fund today. And we believe that it’s possible to come together to STOP the expansion of policing and imprisonment, as well as move away from a reliance on policing, jails, prisons and immigration detention. We believe that we can invest, instead, in real safety for our communities by addressing the root causes of harm and violence in our society.
As the school year starts, we are thinking about kids and their caregivers. None of us currently parent any children, though we all have kids in our lives who we love and consider friends and comrades. In the Punch Up Collective, as a general practice, we aim to organize our work in such a way that kids and the adults who sustain them are included in our activities. We do this by budgeting money to hire someone who can host kid activities during events we put on, scheduling social gatherings during the day instead of at dinner time, making space in protests and marches that can be more kid-friendly, and generally trying to make sure that children are an ordinary part of our political lives. We believe that this approach makes our political spaces more sustainable, inter-generational, and joyful.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we were glad to see some public recognition that parents and kids were bearing the brunt of changes and restrictions, and a general acknowledgement that parents were often not okay. All these months later, parents are still not okay, and yet there doesn’t seem to be that same recognition or a sense of urgency. Ruling institutions and popular narratives frame the pandemic-related challenges associated with kids (for instance, childcare and education) as if these are problems only for parents in individual households. In reality, these are collective, society-wide problems affecting the daily and nightly lives of millions of people. Indeed, the socially-produced response to the pandemic is creating a crisis of care for kids – a crisis that is interconnected with the political, economic, and ecological crises that we are currently experiencing.
Now, perhaps more than ever, is a time to act in solidarity with children. Why do we say this? For starters, kids are also people. Our political orientation to the pandemic should start with those who ruling institutions render most vulnerable and disposable. This includes elderly folks, folks with disabilities, people living in poverty, racialized people, drug users, migrants, and children. We affirm and fight for a world in which productivity is not the measure of someone’s worth, and kids are one important node in that web of resisting capitalist relations of value.
Kids are people who have been made structurally vulnerable by the ways in which we have organized society. They are profoundly affected by the decisions that adults make, and yet have very little power to affect those decisions. In the context of COVID closures and changes, the restrictions on their lives impact their capacities to practice their own agency and self-making; other people decide for them what they’ll do, when they’ll do it, and what access they’ll have to people outside their home or bubble. This is always true, and we’re not saying that solidarity with kids means letting them do whatever they want all the time. But we should take seriously how COVID disproportionately affects young people.
All kids are struggling right now, but their well-being is unevenly distributed. Kids of rich and middle-class people have relative space and capacity to find a path through this pandemic; kids in foster care or living in poverty have many fewer resources. Kids who are forced to live with abusive adults have fewer ways to find support outside the home. Kids with suppressed immune systems and disabled kids whose normal supports aren’t available have less-expansive lives than they deserve. Solidarity with kids thus means fighting for the well-being of all kids, with a particular focus on those who are targeted and deprived by current social arrangements.
Solidarity with kids also means paying attention to the people who nurture children, including parents and other caregivers, childcare workers, and education workers. As the pandemic has dramatically illuminated, caregiving is often seen as “women’s work” – overwhelmingly unpaid or underpaid, and undervalued in non-monetary ways as well. Fighting for the well-being of children, as a society-wide concern, necessarily involves fighting for the well-being of the adults around them.
So, what does solidarity like this look like in practice? We can start by listening to those who are most affected and most at risk: teachers, parents, children, early childhood educators, educational assistants, school custodians, bus drivers, etc. We can especially attend to the people who are collectively organizing around the issues that affect children and their caregivers – education worker unions as well as youth and parent groups fighting against police presence in schools, chronic underfunding of the education system, and neighbourhood gentrification. Parents and caregivers who are committed to public schools and those who are building campaigns for universally accessible childcare deserve our support.
The great thing about acting in solidarity is that we start from wherever we are, look to see what points of connection we have with others who are fighting for a better world, and connect in with their work. This means that we don’t have a list of what will count as good solidarity activities for anyone reading this to take up. But we can say that we’ll all be fighting against some shared enemies: anyone cutting public education infrastructure, anyone prioritizing hiring cops over teachers, and anyone forcing people to make impossible decisions between the health and safety of kids and their ability to pay rent.
As kids return to virtual and in-person classes, back to school doesn’t mean back to normal. This is an important moment for us to listen to children and their caregivers, elevate their voices, and fight alongside them for safe, equitable, and well-resourced infrastructure of care. As with everything, our collective well-being depends on what we’re prepared to struggle for, together.
In recent weeks we’ve seen a serious uptick in discussions about defunding the police, which is wonderful! Defunding the police is an important step towards police abolition and creating forms of community safety that actually keep us safe. But if we’re serious about defunding the police as a goal, we need to know where to apply pressure to make it happen.
The decision-making process for how police budgets are established and approved differs between jurisdictions. Like us, you might have read the opinion piece by City Councillor Jeff Leiper which provides some helpful information about how police budgets are decided in Ottawa.* Leiper’s piece, and some of the comments by other progressive City Councillors, seem to suggest that because Council doesn’t control the Ottawa Police Services (it is not a City department), we should direct calls to defund the police toward other political work. Specifically, Leiper highlights the Community Safety Well Being Plan as something we should focus on.
Wanting to know more, we did some of our own research to map out how police funding in Ottawa works. We put together what we found into the infographic you can find below.
A yearly operations budget is first established by the Ottawa Police Services (OPS). It is then voted on by the Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB) and then presented to City Council for approval. The OPSB has seven members, three of whom are city councillors (currently Mayor Jim Watson, Councillor Diane Deans, and Councillor Carol Anne Meehan), and four of whom are citizen representatives (one appointed by City Council and the remaining three appointed by the provincial government). You can find the full listing of board members here.
As Leiper points out in his article, while City Council ultimately approves or rejects the Ottawa Police Services budget, the Ontario Police Services Act stipulates that they cannot approve or reject individual items in the budget. In assessing the OPS budget, municipalities are required by the Ontario Police Services Act to provide the OPSB with “sufficient funding to, (a) provide adequate and effective policing in the municipality, and (b) pay the expenses of the board’s operation, other than the remuneration of board members.”
What constitutes “adequate and effective policing”? Good question! Who gets to decide what this looks like? Another great question! At the moment, it seems like the OPS gets to make those decisions and the OPSB and City Council fall in line.
If City Council rejects the OPS budget, the OPSB has a couple different options. The OPSB can direct OPS to present a revised budget, perhaps with guidance from City Council (formally or informally). If the OPSB decides that the municipality is unwilling to provide sufficient funding (as outlined above), they can request that the municipality jointly enter into a conciliation process, with the involvement of the Ontario Police Civilian Commission, or even request an arbitration process, whereby the OPS budget would be set by an arbitrator (either jointly decided upon by the municipality and the OPSB, or appointed by the Ontario Police Civilian Commission).
Just what is the Ontario Police Civilian Commission? It is an “independent quasi-judicial agency” that adjudicates appeals and applications under the Ontario Police Services Act. It currently has 12 members, appointed by the provincial government, all of whom are lawyers (or individuals holding law degrees). You can find the full list of appointees here.
What does all this mean?
We’re not experts, but here’s one important thing we notice in all this: despite the fact that there are various layers of decision-making to set the Ottawa Police Services budget, and despite the fact that city council has some limits on how it can make decisions about the budget, City Council still has the power to approve or reject the police budget. In other words, we, as residents, still have the power to force city council to prioritize funding other community supports and services that do a far better job improving our community than the cops.
* Many Ottawa residents have recently also received an email from Mayor Jim Watson outlining his opposition to calls to defund the OPS; it is clear that he is beginning to lay out how he will dismiss and undermine calls to defund the police. We offer this text and infographic to help clarify the technical and practical issues that would be involved in defunding OPS – the political issues are separate and deserve consideration too.
Health crises are political. For May Day 2020, let’s come together against the forces of capitalism and colonialism, which are currently intensified as part of the COVID-19 pandemic. May Day is normally a time to gather and celebrate, and so this year we want to safely transform our public spaces into expressions of that collectivity! We’re happy to share these images commissioned by Punch Up and beautifully drawn by Bia Salles (@bia_makes_art).
We invite you to show your solidarity by using and sharing these images of butterflies (ENG/FR), bees (ENG/FR), and birds (ENG/FR) that evoke the power of life against colonialism and capitalism! You can download the whole set of images in English or French. Color, draw, or trace them with kids! Create your own images that evoke the spirit of May Day! We encourage you to post them around your neighborhood, in your window, at your workplace, on social media, on patches. We’re excited to see what you do! Share digitally using #MayDay2020.
For more gorgeous shareable images, check out these graphics from Justseeds Artists Cooperative and this comic from Ad Astra Comix.
Building a New World In the Shell of the Old
The crisis that the pandemic escalated was already here. This May Day offers a chance for us to collectively meet this crisis by building a new world, recognizing that the one we’ve been living within creates misery and devastation. It consistently kills poor people, Indigenous peoples, racialized people, migrants, elders, kids, and disabled people first; it regularly places disproportionate care work on the shoulders of women and forces working-class folks to put their bodies on the line. COVID-19 is accelerating harms that were already pervasive.
We will be living through this crisis for a long time, and so our organizing has to happen over the long-term with care and intention. People want to help one another; we are good at organizing and self-organizing. The state is neither interested in nor good at those things, nor are the very rich. This is a good time to remember that and to build on our collective strengths.
This May Day, we encourage you to think about how your life is connected with workers, with Indigenous sovereignty and migrant justice, with people resisting imprisonment. When we evoke work, we mean not only wage work, but all the activities that sustain us and our communities. When we evoke open borders, we think not only of people imprisoned in immigration detention centres or killed at sea, but all the peoples who have had borders imposed on them by settler states. When we evoke freedom from prisons, we call for releasing prisoners and also resisting the slide toward a police state in the name of public health.
These images evoke intertwined struggles and sites of liberation. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, there are victories. Wildcat strikes remind us that, as the old song goes, “without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn” and that we need not wait on union bureaucracies to exercise worker power. Rent strikes show that the property-owning class is vulnerable to organized resistance, even when people are physically separated, and assert that everyone deserves a dignified place to live. Mutual aid and caremongering networks affirm that people want to care for each other and will self-organize to do so.
Winning recognition of the dignity of work is only the beginning. Rent strikes and halting evictions are only the beginning. Establishing community networks of care and support are only the beginning.
We know that there is no going back to the world that was; that world was never good for the vast majority of us. We can build a new world in the shell of this one.
The Centretown Community Association is establishing a Standby
Volunteer List; to join, send an email to
email@example.com with your name, tel nbr, dates/hrs
you’re available and whether you have access to a vehicle.
Given current concerns about COVID-19, we are postponing the Early to Bed Dance Party Fundraiser. We want to do what we can to keep our community safe and healthy and slow the spread of the virus. We’ll announce a new date as soon as we’re able. In the meantime, let’s practice physical distancing and social solidarity!
Friday, March 27, 8 PM – 11 PM Shanghai Restaurant, 651 Somerset Street West Facebook event here
What is an Early to Bed Dance Party? It’s a super fun dance party, but earlier in the evening so we can still go to bed at a reasonable time! Come dance your face off and still be in bed by 11:15!
Shanghai will be serving beverages, DJ Justice will be spinning, and the dance floor will be shaking!
PWYC at the door. This is a fundraiser! Funds raised at the door will be split between three initiatives:
Jail Accountability and Information Line (JAIL): The Jail Hotline tracks issues experienced by people incarcerated at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre, advocating for their needs to be met in a dignified and respectful manner, while connecting them to community supports for when they are released.
Indigenous Land Defenders Legal Defence: We don’t have a specific organizations lined up yet, but we will post details once confirmed. Many Indigenous folks have put their bodies on the line in support of Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and we’d like to contribute to their legal costs.
Shanghai is accessible by ramp at the side door. It does not have an
accessible washroom. There will be loud music and lots of folks at the
front of the venue. We will try to maintain a quieter space at the back
where folks can chill out and chat. We ask folks to avoid wearing
scented products for those with scent sensitivities.
If you have any accessibility concerns or other questions, please get in touch with Punch Up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the course of 2020, we’re hoping to expand both the number of subscribers and the number of groups submitting events. And we’re hoping you can help us make that happen.
The first edition was emailed to almost 70 subscribers on Monday June 18th, 2018. It has gone out every Monday since, and has grown to over 200 local subscribers.
Even more amazingly, just in 2019, the REO List featured events from 174 different organizations, all based in the Ottawa area.
There’s clearly a lot going on in Ottawa! With your help, the REO List can reach even more people and organizations.
There are two tangible things you or your organization can do to help keep the REO List growing:
1) Share the details about the REO List with your friends, family, and with your organization’s members and contact lists. A general overview of the REO List, including how to subscribe, can be found here.
2) Submit your organization’s events to the REO List for inclusion in an upcoming email. Events submitted by Friday at midnight will be included in the email released the following Monday. You can submit an event by filling out the online form.
How Does the REO List Work Again?
If you’d like to let other people know about the REO List and need a quick descriptive blurb, you’re welcome to use this one:
The Punch Up Collective runs the Radical Events Ottawa (REO) List, a weekly public email announcement list for radical events, meetings, protests, and other activities in Ottawa, Ontario, on unceded Algonquin territory. It’s a way for fellow radicals to share upcoming activities without relying on Facebook and other commercialized platforms.
Subscribers receive one email per week, each Monday, containing details on upcoming events and actions in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Subscriber emails are not shared with anyone and won’t appear publicly anywhere. The REO List is not a discussion forum; the only email subscribers receive will be the once-weekly events email from Punch Up, and individuals can unsubscribe anytime.
Fight Ford! We Will Win! Join the “Fighting For Our Lives” contingent on December 10th!
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 5:00-8:00pm Ottawa Conference and Events Centre 200 Coventry Road
Bring signs, banners, and noisemakers!
Doug Ford is coming to Ottawa for a $1,000 per plate “Holiday Dinner” hosted by the Conservative Party. The Ottawa Coalition Against Ford will be there to give him the welcome he deserves! (See the general call-out here.)
Join us in the “Fighting For Our Lives” contingent! We’ll picket one of the entrances in solidarity with those most affected by Doug Ford’s cruelty, with the people whose very lives are put at risk by this government’s policies, including Indigenous people, people on ODSP and OW, people denied access to overdose prevention sites, migrants and refugees denied access to legal aid, and all those targeted by multiple forms of oppression.
We are fighting not only the cuts to social services, to classrooms and universities, and to environmental and worker protections; we are also fighting the Ford government’s distribution of money and support towards things that hurt us: prisons, the foreclosure of reproductive justice, and corruption at the core of the current government.
We acknowledge that this action is taking place on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin territory. We believe that effectively fighting the Ford government requires reckoning with and challenging colonialism and supporting Indigenous struggles for self-determination.
Please email us at email@example.com if you are definitely planning to attend the picket so that we know we can count you in! We will email a reminder and plans for gathering. We’re friendly and welcoming!
Fight Ford! We Will Win!
In solidarity and struggle, The Punch Up Collective