4. STAY SAFE - SECURITY GUIDELINES
Hate groups often harass and/or use physical violence to attempt to stop community groups from exposing and opposing their activities. Throughout the early 1990s the Heritage Front mounted a systematic campaign of harassment against activists, including telephone calls at work and at home. Some Final Solution Skins in Edmonton decided that Keith Rutherford, a retired newspaper reporter, needed to be punished for a twenty-year-old news broadcast and beat him, causing the loss of an eye. Death threats were received by the Mayor of Chilliwack and reporters with the Chilliwack Progress and their families were threatened and what was reported as a bomb was left outside their office. When a racist rock concert was condemned by the acting Mayor of Surrey a rock wrapped in a piece of paper bearing a Nazi swastika was thrown through the front window of his house. There have also been three shootings of doctors who provide abortion services in Canada during the past four years. Successfully organizing against hate involves dealing with intimidation, FOIs, law suits, death threats and actual physical violence. When faced with violence, anti-racist and anti-fascist groups need to adopt a number of security measures that will provide a proactive response to retaliation. The following are a number of general guidelines for community safety. However, we recommend that you contact a professional security company, a law enforcement agency or one of the community based orgnaziaitons listed in Appendix A.
CASE STUDY: INTIMIDATION AND HARASSMENT
Excerpts from an article by Warren Kinsella. For the complete article see Organizing Rules.
One pleasant June evening in 1994, a few weeks after the publication of my book Web of Hate: Inside Canada's Far Right Network - a book that was variously described as harmful, exaggerated and (my personal favourite) alarmist by a few detractors at the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Sun and the like - I stood on my driveway, fishing in my pockets for my house key, when I heard a curious sound. It was the sound of male voices; they sounded youngish and not a little angry, and they seemed to be directed at me. I squinted into the dark, in the direction of the voices. In the Ottawa neighbourhood in which my wife and I live - a neighbourhood for which the hackneyed phrase "quiet and residential" was probably invented - it is not every evening that one encounters angry young men bellowing at passerbys near midnight.
I looked back at our darkened house, where I knew my wife was inside, asleep. The voices continued, barking a few curses and - unmistakably, this time - my name. I started to walk to the end of our driveway. Awaiting me, on the opposite side of Imperial Avenue, was a battered Pinto-style hatchback. In the back seat, there appeared to be a young man with close-cropped hair. Standing on the street, beside the open doors of the hatchback, were two other young men. They were muscular specimens, with shaved heads, and they both appeared to be holding something in their hands. After a brief pause in which I was surveyed by my new friends, the shouting continued. While the one at the passenger door gave a Nazi-style salute, his colleague on the driver's side hollered something to the effect of: "Cameras won't save you, Kinsella." This, undoubtedly, was a reference to the closed-circuit cameras that had been installed earlier that same day on the exterior of our home. The cameras had been recommended to us by the Ottawa Police Service, which had acquired reason to believe that certain Ottawa-area neo-Nazis - angry about Web of Hate - were planning to fire-bomb our home or blow up our car. I reached into my jacket for the small cellular phone that I always carry, once again, at the recommendation of the police. I started to press a few buttons. Seeing this, the skinheads climbed into their car and shut the doors. As they slowly made a U-turn to pull away, the skinhead in the passenger seat flashed his middle finger and bellowed: "White power!"
After the car had disappeared from sight, I went inside, where my wife was already calling the police. Both of us knew the number by heart. In the days and weeks following the publication of Web of Hate, we had been stalked by Anne Hartmann, crypto-Nazi leader of the Northern Foundation; I had been threatened (in a hallway at the Ottawa courthouse, no less, where I had been subpoenaed to testify in a hate trial) by Northern Hammerskin leader Dan Roussel; we learned the Nationalist Party of Canada and other white supremacist groups had decided to hold a whites-only "picnic" in the park directly behind our home, prompting the Ottawa Police to call in the riot squad; and, for good measure, the editors at Frank magazine - who at one time, coincidentally enough, assisted Ms. Hartmann in the production of her far-right rag, Northern Voice - published our address for every neo-Nazi in the country to clip and save.
While my wife waited for a police officer to come on the line, I told her about my brief encounter with the trio of skinheads. As we sat there in the dark, waiting, I remembered that Bill Dunphy - the Toronto Sun's self-appointed expert on hate groups - had called Web of Hate "alarmist". I mentioned this to my wife. "Alarmist?" she said. "Maybe Bill wouldn't think it was so alarmist if he had a bunch of Nazis sieg-heiling at the end of his driveway." We both laughed. "Something tells me you're right."
Those who believe that Canada's far right is populated by a minuscule number of red-necked mouth-breathers with little organizational ability - and even less smarts - need only re-read the above passage. As one who has endured a harassment campaign that has gone on for months, I can easily testify to the ability of neo-Nazis and white supremacists to intimidate and terrorize. Just today, in fact, I returned home from work to find an envelope full of child pornography in my mailbox. The kiddie porn had been directed to our home, without much doubt, by some pro-Nazi coward. His or her objective has been simple: to provoke fear. For those far-right types now reading these words, I have one message: it won't work. You won't scare us out of our home. You won't make us leave town. You won't stop me from speaking out against racism. This, at the end of the day, is the best way to combat Canada's growing web of hate - to refuse to be intimidated. To refuse to be pushed around. To refuse to be afraid. Fear, after all, is what Canada's native hate movement is all about.
In the past two decades, Canada's racist right have acquired undeniable skills in their relentless campaign of fear. In the 1960s and 1970s, white supremacists were comparatively ineffective. By the 1980s, however, the haters had changed. They became better-organized. They became more articulate. They became more numerous.
Just as the haters have become better at what they do, then, so too must those who push back against the rising wave of intolerance. To invoke a cliche, education is the key. But education must take place at two distinct levels - in our schools, and in the strategies and tactics of anti-racist activities.
School yards - from primary and post-secondary - are the first battle-ground. Since the debut of the Canadian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s, home-grown hate groups have paid particular attention to our youth. Knowing that burgeoning unemployment and lack of opportunity have marginalized many (if not most) of Canada's next generations, the likes of Wolfgang Droege have elevated recruitment of disenfranchised young people to an art form. At its peak in early 1993, Droege's Heritage Front group could reliably claim to have captured new members at virtually every high school in the Metropolitan Toronto area. Offering youngsters much of what they are seeking - an anti-parent culture, a uniform, a secret society, a sense of belonging, an identity and even "racist rock" groups - Canada's hate group leaders have seduced thousands of adolescents into racist ideologies. Success in school yards and in classrooms is crucial to the future growth of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. It is no accident, for instance, that our schools have attracted so many men who subscribe to racist views: Jim Keegstra in Alberta, Malcolm Ross in New Brunswick, Paul Fromm in Ontario.
To beat racists on this level, we need to appeal to the hearts and minds of young Canadians. Intellectually, they must be shown that the various manifestation of hate promotion - Holocaust denial, racial epithets and discriminatory practices - are harmful and contrary to a modern society's best interests. Emotionally, majority students need to experience the pain and anxiety that are natural consequences of anti-semitism, homophobia and racism. But education must take place at another level, too. Anti-racist activities must adopt new and sophisticated tactics and strategies for combatting a hate movement that is better-organized and better-funded than ever before. Among these strategies and tactics are:
Every once in a while - not often, but often enough - my wife and I muse about what our lives would be like had I not written a book about Canada's racist right. Undoubtedly, we would be able to dispense with the numerous personal security devices both of us always carry. We would not need to position video cameras and lights on the exterior of our home. We would not need to register in hotels under assumed names, or change our unlisted telephone number evEry four months. We would not need to snap awake past midnight, having heard an unfamiliar sound outside our bedroom window. But Web of Hate was written, and published. Many of Canada's white supremacists and neo-Nazis don't like it. And I am not ashamed I have raised my voice against them. All of us need to raise our voices. All of us need to remember that Canada's racist groups are watching, waiting and growing stronger. They have not gone away in the past, and there is not much chance that they will go away in the immediate future.
CASE STUDY - STAY SAFE
Excerpts from an article by Joyce McArthur. For the complete article see Organizing Rules.
Physical harassment started to increase significantly in BC in 1991 and there was a dramatic increase in threatening phone calls after the Dr. Romalis shooting in 1994. Some of the harassment went beyond threats. Doctors had been chased from their offices to their cars. Workers had been kneed, shoved, and pushed at their offices and homes. Doctors had been picketed at their homes, with protesters' signs labelling them as murderers. With the Romalis and Short shootings, the antichoice have shown themselves to be on the "cutting edge of terrorist-type violence in Canada."
But anti-abortion violence was not being taken seriously by police and other authority figures. They seemed to feel that staying neutral was the answer, but how can the police stay neutral when someone is breaking the law? The antichoice movement is more organized than people generally think and far more organized than the pro-choice movement. Unfortunately, doctors, staff, and other individuals seem "extremely naive" about the real violent potential of the antichoice movement and who personally felt immune from any danger. This mentality was largely a result of providers being isolated, not organized, and not sharing information with each other.
The abortion issue is a "group against group" situation, Burns explained. The antichoice tend not to target particular individuals; instead, they prefer to shop around for the easiest mark. Any abortion doctor will do. If they can not access a doctor, any staff member will do. And so on. If you are a member of a group involved in providing or protecting abortion services, and you are its weakest link (security-wise), you may be at risk, regardless of your relative importance or profile in the group. But if you do have a high profile within your group, you risk attracting attention not only to yourself but to others around you. Therefore, doctors who perform abortions have a serious responsibility to protect their family and staff as well as themselves.
Remember-stay alert, stay safe!
SECURITY CHECK LIST
Home and Office
- Install an alarm system, but carefully screen the alarm system company. Call a community group with experience with security companies. Some of the most prominent racists in Canada are known to run home and business security companies.
- Install outside lighting in strategic locations around your office or home. Entrance doors should be well lit and several interior lights should be left on, using timers for random lighting. Avoid back-lighting.
- Windows, skylights and areas of ventilation should be secured.
- Use single cylinder locks and dead bolt locks that are pick resistant.
- Become involved in the community "Block Watch" programs and ask neighbours to inform you if they observe anyone observing you, your house or place of work
- Everyone should know the proper procedure for handling emergencies.
- Know and post the local police force telephone number.
- Keep descriptions of person(s) and car(s) observed lingering in or around the work place.
- Develop a community response network
- Report incidents to a law enforcement agency and a local anti-racist group in your community with expertise in security issues.
- Contact the telephone company. They have an automatic call tracing feature useful against harassing telephone calls
- Do no disturb the evidence, but take photographs.
- Observe, record and report. Call the police and a community organization for assistance.
- Remove graffiti when evidence has been collected.
- Obtain a copy of the preliminary crime or offense report.
- Organize community meetings to discuss the causes of racism and how to protect public and private buildings
- Do not throw hate propaganda away. Carefully secure examples of the material Avoid handling the material,if possible, and do not photocopy until after law enforcement officials have examined the material..
- Report the matter to the local police and make the evidence available to them, if appropriate.
- Contact a community organization that tracks and monitors hate propaganda.
- Avoid handling the material, if possible and do not photocopy until after law enforcement officials have examined the material.
- Call an appropriate community organization.
- In consultation with an appropriate community organization and the police, report the matter to the Post Office
- Designate and train security personnel and marshals.
- Make sure that there enough security personnel to ensure safety before, during and after the event. If security is an issue, reconsider the demonstration.
- Make sure that you know who may pose a threat.
- Secure areas where baggage may be left.
- Take pictures of people attending the event
- Notify a law enforcement agency, if appropriate
- Use a digital cellular telephone for all communication. But even digital telephones may be taped. Always take precautions when speaking on telephones.
- Re-route e-mail through an anonymous server, if appropriate.
- Ensure that personal mail is sent to a post office box.
- Ensure that your car registration does not list your home address.
- Do not list your home address or telephone number.
- Try to stay out of all data-bases
- Take all threats seriously and designate a person to coordinate a bomb threat response.
- Make sure everyone is informed about bomb threat procedures (i.e., leaving the area to a place of safety) and that they comply.
- Report the incident to a community organization and a law enforcement agency
- Designate a person to take charge in case of an emergency.
- Do NOT handle the suspected item.
- Secure the area.
- Contact a community organization and law enforcement agency
SIDEBAR - SECURITY
- Develop a comprehensive plan to deal with security issues.
- Ensure that individuals targeted by hate are supported.
- Contact law enforcement agencies and develop a community watch program.
- In extreme cases, victims may need help to temporarily re-locate.
- Make sure that activists stay safe at work and at home.
- Contact an organization that has a reputation for effectively dealing with hate groups.
- You may want to contact a law enforcement agency and the Attorney General.
- Ensure that the confidential information is secure.
- Ensure that communication systems are secure
SIDEBAR FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND LIBEL
Hate groups will use whatever means possible in the attempt to discredit anti-racists and anti-racist organizations, including surveillance, illegal wire-taps, tracing cellular telephones, and hacking Internet Service Providers, etc.. Another tool that can tie up resources and are freedom of information (FOI) requests. FOIs are used to access government information. Racists groups can use FOI requests to: 1) intimidate supporters and funders, and 2) deplete government and community resources through "red tape". The best response to FOI requests is to try to ensure that whatever you put in writing can not be used against you. This is almost impossible to do, but care should be exercised with even the most sympathetic government agency. Another tool increasingly used by right-wing terrorists to intimidate anti-racist groups is libel law. Unlike other countries, it is relatively simple to file a libel suit in Canada regardless of the merits of the case. Libel suits are expensive to defend, tie up the resources, and intimidate groups from speaking out. Regardless of how careful a statement may be designed, there are groups that will want to sue for the sake of their cause and as a tactic for raising funds. While many hate groups hide behind names that appear to support freedom of expression, they are the first to sue for libel to shut organizations up. Ensure that have the best legal advice you can afford. You can raise money for a legal defense. Libel suits are also useful to the far right in order to discover what and how information about their groups is obtained. It is easier and certainly safer to force anti-racist groups to disclose information about funding, activities and personnel in court or through discovery than to try to infiltrate the group or to acquire confidential information through e-mail, snail mail or other means of surveillance.