Who Says Youth Aren’t Interested in Politics?

Youth promote working class candidates for municipal elections

Written by Farshad Azadian

On Friday October 15th, some fifteen youth from the Toronto Young New Democrats (TYND) and the Esplanade Community Group took part in a canvass promoting candidates Joe Pantalone for Mayor of Toronto, and Chris Moise for TDSB school trustee in ward 14. Their canvass, held in the Esplanade neighbourhood, was met with considerable support from fellow residents.

Young workers, high school youth and university students from diverse backgrounds came together to promote issues that affect the majority of Toronto’s residents, our city’s working class and poor.

On the top of the list was a clear opposition to planned cuts to social spending and the unacceptable school closures that have been occurring. Both Smitherman and Ford are committed to cutting city services through massive staff layoffs, privatizations, neglecting transit funding, and plans to expand the already-bloated police and prison budgets.

Many community members were visibly stricken by the increasing hardships that they, and working people in general, are struggling with in the current economic crisis. People were clearly looking for solutions, but many were honestly frustrated at what they deemed to be empty promises of supposedly “progressive” city politicians in the past. Regardless, the push by the youth activists for residents to “vote working class” resounded strongly.

Both Pantalone and Moise trace their politics to the New Democratic Party (NDP) and have gotten considerable backing from organized labour. This point was very attractive to many residents in the Esplanade, a neighbourhood that served as a NDP stronghold during the recent Toronto-Centre by-election where fellow resident Cathy Crowe was the provincial NDP candidate.

NDP support jumped from 17% to 33% in the last year, largely based on the concrete program put forward which included commitments to fight for affordable and well-repaired housing, affordable transit and the scrapping of the regressive HST tax. This showed that a concrete left-wing program could, in a short period of time, galvanize massive support from working class people who often do not vote because they feel “all politicians are the same”.

Joe Pantalone and other labour candidates must take this lesson to heart. As committed new democrats, we found it sometimes difficult to explain to residents why it was in their interests to vote for Pantalone. Although people were receptive to the NDP, they (justifiably) felt that Pantalone wasn’t offering any concrete solutions to dealing with their everyday problems of unemployment, costly housing, transit and the overall increasing cost of living.

Conversely, Chris Moise, who has taken an active role engaging with the Esplanade Community Group and the Toronto Young New Democrats, put forward a very concrete program based on funding to inner city schools, commitments to ensure repairs in schools, opposition to school closures as well as a challenge to the aggressive policing of high school youth through the SRO program (which stationed armed police in high schools). These positions appealed to the majority of the hundreds of residents we spoke to during the day.

We youth believe that progressive candidates should take a hint from this experience, as well as the recent Cathy Crowe provincial campaign, and begin to offer a tangible and concrete program for working class people.

Even more importantly, we encourage working class people, and youth in particular, to get organized and to begin fighting around the issues that are affecting them, their families and communities. Voting for working class candidates in this municipal election is a first step people can take in this direction.

To get involved in the Toronto Young New Democrats (TYND), contact us at: Torontoynd@gmail.com

Community BBQ and 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament

Where: Ball court on Esplanade

When: Saturday, August 28 @ 4:00pm

The Esplanade is holding a free community BBQ and 3 on 3 ball tournament on August 28th (Saturday) at 4pm. Come hang out, enjoy some food, music, competition, politics and that real community spirit.

We'll be starting up at 4pm and going till whenever people are feeling up to it. Bring the kids and come together for this family-friendly event. Purchase tickets in the 50/50 raffle and donate what you can to help support the cause.

Age categories are:




Prize for the winning teams is paid-for entry fee into the upcoming 3rd Annual Justice for Alwy Basket Ball Tournament against police brutality. That tournament, with an entry fee of 50$ per team, has a winning prize of 500$. Step your game up.

For more information, or to register your team, call 647-454-0131 or email: esplanadegroup@gmail.com

August Monthly Members Meeting

Where: Windmill Line Co-op (125 Scadding Ave.)
When: Thursday, August 26 @ 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Brothers and Sisters,

The Esplanade Community Group will be holding it members meeting on the last thursday of the month (Aug 26th), at the Windmill Line Co-op (top floor). We will be planning our work for the next bit, including our basketball tournament as well as our fundraising event for the victims of the flood in Pakistan.

There will also be a political education component, and strategizing on the upcoming municipal electi...ons. Come to the meeting to help discuss and determine the direction of our work.

Monthly members meetings are for those who are already familiar and in support of our program and principles (http://espcg.blogspot.com/p/abous-us.html). If you have not yet been to a members meeting, please get in touch with us at esplanadegroup@gmail.com

All are needed to move our community forward and to advance our condition as working class people.

Violence in Our Community

On July 23rd, 2010, gunshots echoed through the corner of Esplanade and Sherbourne. Though severely injured, the victim will survive his injuries.

In the years past, our community has lost many of its beloved members. One common denominator has been gun violence, and unfortunately the majority of the victims have been our youth.

The rising tide of bloody violence happen alongside increasing unemployment, the loss of well-paying jobs, cuts to community services, lacking opportunities, and escalating housing costs. These changes are clearly related.

Too much comes in between youth and a dignified living nowadays. When there’s nothing to lose, selling drugs and other illegal economic activity become appealing.

Ultimately, the increasingly violent dynamic in our community is expected when even a sixty-hour workweek can fail to provide for a household. This unhealthy situation produced both the economic motivations and cultural environment of not only Friday’s shooting, but also the tragic deaths in our community over the years past.

Bringing an end to the violence requires responsibility. It means becoming active in the community; it means addressing the social causes of violence. This is embodied in the spirit of the Esplanade Community Group’s Six Point Program (http://espcg.blogspot.com/p/about-us.html).

Police Violence

Residents in our community will rejoice when the violence ends. That being written, a crime being committed in the community should not translate into an entire generation of residents losing their civil rights.

The police used Friday’s incident as justification to harass, illegally search, threaten, abuse, assault, and arrest our community’s youth. Young men are avoiding their very own streets to evade harassment.

On Friday, shortly after the shooting, an innocent young community member, Mikel Berhe, was “randomly” grabbed, struck and questioned by police officers. Friends of his approached at a safe distance to observe and remind him of his rights. But the police wouldn’t allow it. Even though his friends stood at a 10-meter distance (which far exceeded any reasonable definition of obstructing the officers), police threatened to arrest unless they left the vicinity.

Police then placed Farshad Azadian, another youth, under arrest. After he was thrown into the back of the police car, bystanders and friends were subject to insult and threats.

While Farshad was being taken to the police station, he sustained minor injuries to his face when the police officer, for no apparent reason, sped up and slammed on the brakes twice while he was cuffed. This sent him flying face first into the window panel. After six hours in the holding cell, Farshad was charged with obstruction and then released.

The Esplanade Community Group calls for the trumped-up charge on Farshad Azadian to be dropped and for an apology from the 51 division police for the incident. We also expect a written commitment to uphold the civil rights of all community members. However, we are not blind to the fact that a simple demand will not change the behaviour of the police.

Though the stated duty of the police department is to uphold the law, officers routinely bend and break it at the expense of the dignity of our community. The recent incident at the G20, where 300 peaceful protesters, residents and oblivious bystanders were illegally arrested on the Esplanade, beaten, detained and refused lawyers shows the degree to which the police stand above their own laws.

The Esplanade Community Group commits to a responsible approach to dealing with police violence and the violation of our rights. This includes an anti-police brutality campaign, legal defense workshops, townhalls, active cooperation with progressive politicians and the New Democratic party, and the beginnings of a cop-watch program.

We encourage all fellow residents to involve themselves by taking a responsible, active and politically conscious stand in our community on the issues we face. Contact us at esplanadegroup@gmail.com to get informed and/or involved.

We are also asking for financial support to pay the cost of legal defense fees. Please get in touch with us if you, or the organization you are a part of, can make such a contribution.

July Monthly Members Meeting

Where: Windmill Line Co-op @ 125 Scadding Ave.
When: Thurs. July 29, 2010 @ 6:00PM (Workshop begins at 7:30PM)

Hey family,

The Esplanade Community Group will be holding its monthly members meeting this Thursday (July 29th) at the Windmill Line-Coop. We will be discussing and planning our work for the coming month.

We will also be having a “know your rights” workshop at the event and we encourage all to both take part in our meeting, and to feel free to also attend our legal defense workshop. Given that hundreds have been arrested illegal
ly and been physically assaulted in our community by police over the last month, this workshop is particularly relevant.

We, as a community, need to move forward to address the various problems we are caught up in. Police Brutality, violence in the neighbourhood, poverty, housing, social services and the upcoming city elections are all issues we need to be moving on and will be speaking about.

All are welcome and needed.

Contact: esplanadegroup@gmail.com

Esplanade Townhall to Discuss Mass Arrests at Novotel Protest

Esplanade Community Townhall: Residents, Workers and Youth face mass arrests at Novotel
Where: Windmill Line Co-op @ 125 Scadding Ave.
When: Wednesday, June 30 @ 6:30

After a week of protests and action by the labour movement and working class communities to the policies of the G20, one of the final battles raged in front of Novotel, a hotel in our community where workers were on strike. Police had already shown their willingness to brutalize peaceful protesters and ignore our civil liberties over the past days.

On Saturday evening, they arrested more than 300 peaceful protesters, including many of our youth, bystanders and striking hotel workers during a peaceful rally on The Esplanade. This occurred while police forces stood back while black bloc vandals created havoc in the city of Toronto.

We, as the Esplanade community, will not accept such blatant disregard for our human well-being and our hard-fought civil rights. Working people have a right to protest increasing poverty, cuts to services and bailouts for the rich.

Join us on Wednesday, June 30th at 6:30 pm for an Esplanade community townhall. All are welcome and needed.


Organized by:
Esplanade Community Group
Toronto Young New Democrats

Endorsed by:
BASICS community Newsletter
Afghan-Iranian Youth Network

June Monthly Members Meeting

Where: St. Lawrence Recreation Centre

When: Thursday, June 24 @ 6:00pm

The Esplanade Community Group is holding is monthly members meeting this coming Thursday, June 24th at 6pm.

All are welcome to attend, contribute to decision making and to help take up tasks that are necessary for our work to continue. We need to get moving to tackle issues like good jobs, decent housing, social programs and police brutality.

We will be holding our meeting upstairs at the St. Lawrence Recreation Centre. Come out, and encourage friends and family to take part.

We will also be holding a brief educational on "Why Unions?". We also encourage people to attend a solidarity picket at the Novotel Hotel on the Esplanade. Workers in our neighbourhood will be going on strike for decent benefits and workplace security.

We will be meeting at Novotel (45 The Esplanade) at 4pm, and we encourage the whole community to show its support to workers who are fighting the bosses for a decent standard of living.

Let's Stand Up as a Community!

To confirm that you'll be coming to the members meeting, it's best to email us at esplanadegroup@gmail.com.

Upcoming Fundraiser

Esplanade Community Group brings you:

Power to the People; A Night of Empowering Local Artists, Community and Youth

Join us on June 11th for music, drinks, art, politics and community

The Esplanade Community Group has been fighting around issues affecting working class people in our community for the last year. Our cultural event is an opportunity for local Toronto and Esplanade rappers, poets, dancers and bands to promote their talent and promote the struggles in their communities. The Esplanade has been at the forefront in the fight against police brutality, for affordable housing, for adequate youth programming, for funding to social services and for good jobs.

All proceeds of the event go towards various organizing projects on the Esplanade.

Performances include:

Esplanade's Own:
Ian Kamau
4D and R-uh
Teddy F House

Vaughan & Oakwood's:

And many others

Tickets are 10$ for adults (19+) and 5$ for Youth.
Please get your tickets in advance.

Contact us at: esplanadegroup@gmail.com

Location: Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People
Address: 165 Front Street East
Date/Time: June 11th, starts at 6:30pm

May Monthly Members Meeting

Hey family,

We will be holding our second monthly members meeting this coming Thursday. If you've been wanting to get down with the community work happening on the Esplanade, and want to contribute to discussion and planning work, its the monthly members meeting where we do this.

Most of you have followed the work or even came out to a forum or movie. It takes organization and commitment to hold these events and move our hood forward, and all are needed to move to end police brutality, win good jobs and ensure decent affordable housing on the Esplanade and in other communities.

The meeting is at 6:30 pm on May 27th (Thursday). It'll be held at the St. Lawrence Recreation Centre.

If you weren't at the last monthly members meeting, and don't personally know some of the Esplanade Community Group activists, send an email to esplanadegroup@gmail.com to let us know you are planning on attending.

Basics Article

18-Year-Old Junior Alexander Manon Beaten to Death by Toronto Police on May 5

by Steve da Silva - BASICS Online

Rally called by family for Friday, May 7 - 9:00am, 25 Grosvenor St. (see below for details)

Running from the police is not a crime punishable by death in Canada. Yet this is the sentence 18-year-old Junior Alexander Manon received on the evening of May 5, 2010 when he ran from the police near York University in Toronto. And by looks of what became of the young Dominican teenager, it’s no surprise that youth like him run when confronted by Toronto police.

Around 6:30pm, Manon jumped out of a car and fled police after a random pull-over on Founders Road and Steeles. Police claim that Manon spontaneously collapsed and died of a heart attack while trying to run from them, despite witness testimonies and a pool of blood to suggest otherwise.

A witness on the scene and another passenger of the vehicle reported that: “They beat him up, he was on the floor, he wasn’t resisting. Two officers on him, punching him in the face, one kicking him in the ribs… And then five more come and jump on him… He’s not that big for seven boy’dem [cops] to be on him like that.”

Choked by her own tears, Junior’s sister Amanda Manon reported to Global News that “there was blood all over the place – he was struggling. It was a painful death, a painful death.”

The emergency call placed by the police indicated that “a man without vital signs was in need of assistance”, reported Global. Manon was later taken to York-Finch hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

The case is now being handled by the Special Investigations Unit – the supposedly “civilian agency” that oversees the police, but in actuality is heavily staffed by ex-cops, and has a nearly flawless record of exonerating officers who have killed persons in their custody. Not a single officer has ever been convicted of criminal charges for the killing of persons of their custody, despite handling more than 30 such cases since its inception.

With the SIU involved, conveniently the police are not required make a public comment on Manon’s death.

The family reported that Manon’s neck was in a brace, and that his face had exhibited signs of serious beating.

Toronto’s corporate-monopoly media has been widely circulating the story that Manon dropped dead of a heart attack, whitewashing and overshadowing the details provided by direct witnesses. Perhaps worst of all was the Toronto Star's reporting, which said today that "Paramedics arrived at the scene to find the man with no visible injuries...". In what should constitute criminal complicity, the mainstream media is de facto providing cover for the cops until the public forgets this outrageous but not so surprising act of police terror.

There's no doubt that the Jane-Finch community, where Junior was from and was widely known, will mobilize against this outrageous killing of one of their youth.


Esplanade Community Organization Notice