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Remembrance Week CD attracts hundreds

Andrew Van Velzen — December 1983

Hundreds of people commemorated Remembrance Day this year by participating in a week of resistance against war production at Litton Systems Industries in Rexdale. The week included a rally and three days of civil disobedience. It was sponsored by the Alliance for Non-Violent Action (ANVA), an alliance of groups in Ontario and Québec committed to opposing militarism and the organising of non-violent direct action campaigns. ANVA also organised !I Remembrance Day protest last year in which 62 were arrested.

The actions this year represented a dramatic increase in non-violent resistance. At least 400 people went through non-violent training sessions, and by the end of the week almost 150 people had been arrested, many more than once.

The week started on Friday, November 11, with a rally and procession at the Litton grounds that attracted 400 people despite cold and snowy weather. On Monday, November 14, 29 women were arrested in a women’s civil disobedience that attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of Litton management for its part in preparations for genocide. Over 80 people took part in the Monday action.

The week of actions continued on November 16 when about 60 people gathered in solidarity with people fighting oppression in the Third World and here in Canada. The focus was on Litton’s involvement in the construction of counter-insurgency training camps in Honduras. These camps are being used by the American military to help destabilise Nicaragua and the liberated zones in El Salvador. 34 people were arrested when they attempted to bring their concerns to the Litton management.

The week culminated on Friday November 18 when over 500 people gathered outside the management building to hear speeches and protest the production of the guidance system for the cruise missile in a “Refuse the Cruise” day of action. The high point of the day was the attempted encirclement of management which followed after a massive die-in. Eighty people were arrested as they scaled the fences toward the management building. Resistance continued in the 22nd and 23rd police divisions when those arrested refused to be released. Some protestors, who had been arrested earlier in the week and who had gone back on Friday, received stiffer bail conditions than those arrested only on Friday. All arrested refused to leave until the conditions were eventually lifted, and everybody was released late that evening.

Most of the 149 people arrested during the week were charged with trespassing. The week of actions included people from New York State, Ottawa, Montréal, Kingston, Guelph, Hamilton, London, Kitchener and Toronto.