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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Hamilton Ontario: A Troubling Timeline

INTRODUCTION:

Hamilton is in crisis. It may seem alarmist to use that word, but when we review the events of the past year, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion. I believe I can speak for all of us at ARC Collective when I say that we are deeply troubled by the lack of support HPS has shown anti-racists so far, while government officials appear to mishandle the situation. There have been a few positive steps, including the beginnings of an independent review of police conduct at Hamilton Pride, but these steps are barely a start and do not go nearly far enough.

When developments occur in Hamilton -- both positive and negative -- it seems to us that everyone responding, including government, police, and the media, are missing the larger context of each individual incident. As a result, patterns are being overlooked and mistakes are being compounded. That's why Nosferatu, Yellow Vests Canada Exposed, and myself collaborated, along with consulting community activists, to create this living document. It is our hope that it will help everyone situate the latest events within the greater whole, and that maybe, just maybe, that will lead to new insights, questions, and possible solutions.

I originally intended to end this timeline at the close of 2019, but since it is clear the crisis will not magically resolve on December 31st, we will continue adding to it as long as necessary. We have done our best to put together a complete representation of events, however, we recognize that there are some we may be unaware of, or that things have been missed. If there is anything you think we should add, please reach out to the blog.

- BloodRayne


JAN - MAY 2019:
  • Multiple anti-Muslim demonstrations occurred in Hamilton. 
  • Yellow Vest rallies a weekly occurrence, beginning in December. 
  • Sat. Jan 12th - A Yellow Vest protester swings a telescoping baton at counter-protesters.
  • Sat. Jan 26th - An antifascist is arrested at a Yellow Vests Canada rally.
MAY 2019:
  • Wed. May 8th - VICE reports that Marc Lemire, the one-time leader of the Heritage Front and general high profile white supremacist, had been working for the City of Hamilton in their IT Department for years. Lemire was put on leave pending an independent investigation.
  • Thurs. May 9th - VICE reports on odd circumstances surrounding Lemire’s employment (being left off some directories; using extension on voicemail instead of name). In the report, Hamilton lawyer Craig Burley comes forward, stating he notified the City of Lemire’s past in November, 2018.
JUNE 2019:
Chris Vanderweide (red helmet) assaulting counter-protesters at Gage Park. Vanderweide has since become a cult-hero on the Far-Right, often dubbed "Canadian Pan Man", after Proud Boy Ethan Nordean. Vanderweide's behaviour on social media is that of a man who is not remorseful for what he has done, but rather a protector and defender, against what he calls "evil." Vanderweide was a key instigator in the Toronto Eaton Centre brawl the weekend following Hamilton Pride.

JULY 2019: 
  • Mon. July 8th - It comes to light that Cedar Hopperton’s arrest was not regarding their alleged activity at Pride, but instead a response to their speech at City Hall on June 19th. Cedar’s parole continues to be revoked. The parole board maintained that Hopperton was inciting violence in an anti-police speech. 
  • Fri. July 12th - Canadian Civil Liberties Assoc. announces they are looking into Hopperton’s detention. 
  • Tues. July 16th - Cedar Hopperton is released from jail. The reasons for their incarceration continue to confuse and puzzle the community.
  • Thurs. July 18th - Chris Vanderweide is released from jail. Bail conditions stipulate that he must reside at his surety, Joshua Peyton's, home. Given that Peyton is also a hatriot, this seems like a spectacularly bad idea.

AUGUST 2019:

SEPTEMBER 2019:
  • Wed. Sept 4th - City council votes to reject Paul Fromm and Lisa Thompson's requests to speak to council. 
  • Sun. Sept. 29th - PPC counter-protest outside Mohawk College. Three anti-fascists appear to block the path of an elderly woman and her companion who were attempting to enter the building. At least one counter-protester alleges that he was assaulted by a Proud Boy. It is alleged that Proud Boys worked security for Bernier (which was confirmed via the Proud Boys Canada Telegram channel) and attacked a peaceful counter-protester
  • Mon. Sept. 30th - Yellow Vests and assorted racists begin their campaign to identify and harass the three who appeared to block the elderly woman. Alaa Al Soufi was quickly identified, and his family's Toronto-based restaurant, Soufi's, was relentlessly targeted. At this point, the harassment against the Al-Soufis escalates.

OCTOBER 2019:
  • Sat. Oct. 5th - Day 2 of the Gandhi 150 Peace Conference. Organizers invited Yellow Vesters, including Lily and Justin Long, to participate in their Peace March and speeches outside City Hall. Lily takes the opportunity to film and harass community members, while organizers call them "brothers." Mayor Fred Eisenberger reportedly participated in photo ops with the Yellow Vesters. While Day 1 of the conference included multiple community and city leaders participating in proactive breakout sessions, Day 2 was a stark contrast, and some attendees spoke out
 
 
Photo credit: Beth Jacob Synagogue, edited/published by Global News
  • Tues. Oct. 8th - Soufi's restaurant could no longer operate safely and announced that they were closing permanently due to the racist harassment and death threats they received.
  • Thurs. Oct 10th - HPS arrest and charge two 19-year-old males with mischief under $5,000 for writing hate graffiti in chalk outside Beth Jacob Synagogue on Oct. 5th. 
  • Wed. Oct. 23rd - HPS announces that they have arrested and charged 3 anti-racists, Alaa Al Soufi, Kevin Metcalf, and Maximiliano Herrera, in connection with the September 29th CPP counter-protest outside Mohawk College. Meanwhile, those assaulted by Bernier's security detail, CPP supporters, and Proud Boys have not seen any charges brought against their assailants. It was later announced a 4th protester, Victoria Wojciechowska, was also arrested, bringing the total to 4. HPS has still not arrested any of the far-right agitators, despite violence being caught on film and complaints made on the scene.
  • Tues. Oct 29th - Hamilton Anti-Racist Resource Centre (HARRC) released the results of a summer study on racism in Hamilton.

NOVEMBER 2019:

DECEMBER 2019:
  • Sun. Dec. 1st (approx) - Lily apparently moves to Toronto. On Sat. Dec. 7th, she holds her first Yellow Vest protest in that city's west end. It is unclear whether Lily will commute to Hamilton for any protests, or what impact her departure will have on Hamilton events, if any.
  • Tues. Dec. 3rd - HPS announces that they have charged Michael Lickers with Assault Level One and Intimidation as a result of their investigation into the PPC counter-protest outside Mohawk College protest on Sept. 29th. They also laid additional charges against Alaa Al-Soufi including Charges: Assault Level One, Theft Under $5,000, Intimidation, Disguise with Intent. Along with this press release, HPS shares the photos of 3 individuals they're looking to identify in order to lay charges. While it is not confirmed, it is strongly suspected all 3 are anti-racists.

  • Sat. Dec. 7th - Police arrest Rebecca Long for kicking an anti-racist in the head "like a soccer ball." To date, Long is only the second racist/Yellow Vester we are aware of who has been charged in Hamilton this year, and the first to be charged at a Saturday Yellow Vest protest. The first was Chris Vanderweide, and it is unknown whether the two charged in the Beth Jacob graffiti incident are connected to hate groups.




  • Wed. Dec. 11th - Article published by Samantha Craggs outlines concerns raised at a public meeting about the City's decision to take over the Hamilton Anti-Racist Resource Centre (HARRC) for the next 6-12 months. As a result, the Centre would lose its physical space and be reduced to an online and telephone reporting system. 
"We know from the data that no one will use that centre if there's a city-run centre that's only an online reporting system and a phone line. Then we lose that centre. The centre that everyone laboured for. There's a lot of not listening that's repeating." - Dr. Ameil Joseph, McMaster University

  • Thurs. Dec. 12th - HPS votes in favour of accepting the terms of reference their independent investigator, lawyer Scott Bergman, put forward for conducting his investigation into HPS' handling of Pride. This includes examining whether police culture contributed "to the violence, and distrust between police and the LGBTQ community." Community members remain cautiously optimistic.

JANUARY 2020:
APRIL 2020:
  • Thurs. April 30th - Deadline for lawyer Scott Bergman's independant review of HPS' handling of Hamilton Pride 2019.
SEPTEMBER 2020:
MISC:

Over the last several months, Yellow Vesters such as Rick Boswick and Lily have been thanking the HPS for their service, and clearly indicating they believe the police are on their side Lily often attended rallies holding a sign that thanked HPS.
Photos of Lily at Hamilton Yellow Vest rallies holding her signs thanking the HPS and City Council





ADDITIONAL MEDIA:

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Re-examination of An Old Story: Jake Logan Findell

It has been more than a year since Ricochet published a piece linking a UCP staff member to an overly racist online military surplus store:

Adam Strashok (left) with former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall
The story of Adam Strashok turned out to be a bit of a rabbit hole in that it exposed the the light of day a rot withing Alberta conservative campus political groups tying some members to white supremacist groups such as ID Canada or, in the case of Keean Bexte, an employee of Ezra Levant's Islamophobic and conspiracy driven Rebel Media:
Not long ago I started to look into other members of Alberta campus conservative clubs primarily in Calgary one of whom has become of primary interest due to his current status as a staff member of Jason Kenney's UPC (it should be noted that Strashok also worked for the UCP and Bexte endorsed Kenney while a member of the Calgary Conservative Club and has used his position as a Rebel Media personality to promote Mr. Kenney and his government):




I'm thinking that this might perhaps warrant a future article?

In the meantime I thought I would cover material that I hadn't included in the previous articles from last autumn.

We know that Strashok posted on social media using a few different pseudonyms in addition to his real name. Two of those names were highlighted in the Ricochet article. He used the pseudonym "Alexei Kuznetsov" primarily on Facebook but he also posted on the Vibrant Diversity channel on Discord as "Guynumber7" where, thanks to the Discord leak, we were able to find gems of wisdom such as these screeds:



Strashok wasn't a prolific poster in this channel (perhaps more from a yet unreleased Discord channel will one day be added to the leak) but the same can't be said for the person who advocated for his membership:


"Adrien Arcand" (the user having named himself after the Quebecois fascist leader of the 1930s and 40s) is one of two known pseudonyms used by Jake Logan Findell on social media (this one was used on both Discord and Twitter) who has been discussed on ARC:



In fact Findell was the subject of an earlier story in September 2018 when he and a still unknown individual were caught in the act of disseminating ID Canada materials on the grounds of the University of Alberta:



We had been told that Findell was not a member of the Calgary Conservative Club and may not have even been a university student. Even if he didn't he was very much an associate of that particular group:


Let's get back to the "Adrien Arcand" pseudonym Findell used on various social media platforms. Note please that I will be bouncing back and forth between Findell's Twitter and Discord posts:


Findell appears to have been closely following the Fireforce Ventures story, particularly the focus on Strashok. In fact Findell was angry at the UCP when a Twitter user supporting Bernier's PPC suggested that people like Strashok had no place in the party (though subsequent evidence supports the contrary view):


Findell not surprisingly didn't always feel this way:


Not long after ARC helped break the story concerning Keean Bexte's own involvement with Fireforce Ventures, Findell responded to a Tweet by the NDP defending the online military surplus store:


Findell's sarcasm seems disingenuous in light of this post on Discord concerning a brick and mortar store in Calgary selling Nazi paraphernalia:



In another discord chat he seems to know exactly what both the Confederate and Rhodesian flags represent:




In fact Findell is quite a fan of flags:


This photo was taken at a Worldwide Coalition Against Islam rally at Calgary City Hall on June 3, 2017 attended by hate groups including WCAI, the Canadian Combat Coalition (prior to Ryan Dean being booted), and Soldiers of Odin. Also in attendance was Paul Fromm:


The next month Findell posted this in response to criticism leveled at Fromm whose use of the Red Ensign has tainted the flag and a half-hearted disavowal of Fromm by the Proud Boys:


 And of course we can't forget his affinity for Generation Identity/ID Canada iconography:




Having looked at Findell's activities online is seems fairly evident that he has likely been responsible for a significant amount of the far-right materials found at the University of Calgary:


For example, Findell had taken special interest in The Rocks outside the MacEwan Student Centre:



And while I can't say for certain that he was directly involved in this effort....


.... he was certainly associated with people who probably would have.

Other revelations are also quite interesting:



We do now know that Findell was responsible, either on his own or with others, for a spectacularly clumsy effort to defame Calgary-based antifascist groups. At this time a fake Facebook profile was created that fooled no one except for the credulous far-right such as Never Again Canada who, by coincidence, are mentioned in this recent article, "Inside the hate factory: how Facebook fuels far-right profit":




Findell has a great deal to say about Jews too, including this representative sample:







As such we probably shouldn't be especially surprised that he followed the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Findell spent much of the next three days retweeting the days' events:


He did find the time to post his own witty retort directed towards an opponent of the event:


Then this happened:


Findell didn't comment on the murder of Heather Heyer by one of his fellow travelers directly on Twitter, though he did continue discussing the event and how poorly the racists were treated:


On Discord, Findell posted this:


I understand that discussing Findell now more than a year after he was exposed by the blog might be seen as less relevant, however Findell can be seen as a bit of a case study of the kind of person who is attracted to this movement. It also helps to remind our readers that despite their claims, people like Findell are racists who celebrate their hatred when they think no one can see it.

Suffice it to say I think exposing Jake Findell and people like him to the light of day continues to serve the common good.