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Cars are Useful: Anti-G8 Highway Blockades in Ontario

A group of activists from across the north-east of North America are organizing a co-ordinated, decentralized action of simultaneous high-way slow downs to build and make more effective the demonstrations against the G8 in June of 2002.
A group of activists from across the north-east of North America are organizing a co-ordinated, decentralized action of simultaneous high-way slow downs to build and make more effective the demonstrations against the G8 in June of 2002. We are building the networks and setting the stage for eventual immovable highway blockades, the weapons of the poor and the stranglers of national economies so popular and effective throughout South America.

We envisage three, perhaps six or more, separate slow roving caravans crippling the arteries of trade between Windsor and Montreal, the NAFTA free-trade corridor. The beauty of the decentralized actions would be that the direction of the caravans, and their starting locations along the 401 can be left undisclosed until departure allowing much less time for the State to prepare a response.

West of Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph could band together to shut a section of the 401. Activists from Guelph have experience with blockades of this type, participating in the Anti-FTAA Border Caravan in April 2001.

Toronto and surrounding region could choose a critical artery through their fine city. As was witnessed at the October 16 Ontario Common Front action where 7 vehicles blocked 5 lanes of traffic, paralyzing commercial traffic is a real possibility, not just enthusiastic tooting of our own horn.

Kingston, Peterborough, Montreal, and points between could play the third group, with representatives of each community having experience. London and Windsor may be a possible fourth, Sudbury a fifth, and a sixth from South of the border. Perhaps regions that cannot amass the numbers of people or vehicles needed could shut down nearby freight rail lines.

There is a need for vehicles and people willing to put them in some degree of risk. We realize this particular action is not one accessible to all. But that is both a weakness and a strength. The caravans we've been involved with have been able to seat everybody who wished to participate and who were without their own vehicle.

We have been successful drawing older, more liberal participants to these direct actions. This perhaps is because they are not obviously "illegal". Cars slow themselves to the minimum legal speed limit, cutting in half actual speed traveled by most commercial vehicles. The "visuals" for the media are less confrontational than many others, looking like any other traffic jam, but their effectiveness at seizing commercial traffic cannot be argued.

Accustomizing people previously unfamiliar with direct action is an important benefit of this type of action. Disseminating the idea that slowing down all traffic any time, is not only ok, but necessary, is a critical step in disseminating the idea that bringing it all to a dead stop is also ok and necessary.

Hundreds of truckers, who haven't stopped in Gananoque since Highway 2 was replaced by the Hwy. 401, spent the day and evening of the anti-FTAA border caravan holed up in Gananoque, because of the traffic disruption. Every day the trucks are stopped is a display of our strength and a day of economic pain for industry.

In an era of "just in time" deliveries and goods already slowed at the border, by the security crazed border officials, the free market depends on clear and open roads. Our lives and the lives of billions of people around the world depend on resisting the G8 and the corporate powers that control the 'free market'.

We acknowledge from the start that cars are a part of a destructive economy and lifestyle that need changing. But it can also be a metaphorical 'vehicle' for resistance that resonates with people who are alienated by other protest tactics.

We are organizing so 3 or more caravans will disrupt commercial arteries of traffic Tuesday June 25, before the action in Ottawa and before the start of the G8 meeting in Kananaskis. This leave time to attend the action in Ottawa and allows several more days of possible highway disruption after the blockades are a smashing success (truck traffic is heavier during the week).

This is an Ontario Common Front action*, and as such, decisions will be made by regional organizers. It is our expectation the roving highway blockades will change and evolve. We will have a "Caravan Caravan" in mid-May which will visit the communities taking part, to share our experiences. We hope this allows some time for building the campaign idea and putting together participants before meeting with us, and enough time afterwards to build and modify the action to suit each communities own needs. Posters and pamphlets that can be distributed across Ontario will be available soon.

We encourage everyone fighting for freedom, direct democracy and justice to travel in packs, to leave early and to make co-ordinated, safe, unpredictable slowdowns as you travel this summer. Organize a neighbourhood picnic, a hike, a trip to a museum or family. Load up the kids, the driving tunes and fight every inch of the way.



Contact pcu@kingston.net for more info, for contacts in your area, or to arrange a workshop on Highway Blockades in your community. We are only organizing in Ontario and parts of Quebec for the anti-G8 demonstrations in Ottawa in June 2002. Material and information may be available for organizers elsewhere across North America as resources allow.

If you are interested in joining an anonymous and monitored G8 list serve to discuss organizing the regional Highway Blockades please send and email with "G8 Blockades" in the subject line to pcu@kingston.net

In solidarity and resistance,
Ontario Common Front, Kingston.

[Ed. * There will be no authortarians involved in the Kingston organizing of this OCF event. Due to the imperative decentralization for this event to be a success. ... will make a point of having our workshop organizers mention the non-authortarian nature of our coalition and how we have found that to be the only way of organizing effectively.]

the (dead) Queens Highway 15.May.2002 06:04


i don't think the old lady would mind a bit of blockage on *her* highway (the 401), after all, she is dead (and getting worse every day)


Going my way 15.May.2002 19:01


This can be very rewarding work. I have for the past six months enacted a policy of "real Americans don't speed" or 'patriots don't speed'. Sometimes with friends in formation we can stack'em up on the Sunset Highway for miles. Then as one approaches a known speed trap, as say just west of 185th Street in Hillsboro you let the pack rip. This helps 'Bubba' to get speeding tickets in Hillsboro where they enforce driving while Hispanic "laws".
Best way is to have a couple of blocker followed by a couple of friends.