The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Heritage Front Affair
Report to the Solicitor General of Canada
Security Intelligence Review Committee
December 9, 1994


5.4 The Rise of the Anti-Racist Groups

The first record we have of activities involving antiracists concerns the attendance of Heritage Front members on September 24, 1991 at the Toronto Mayor's Committee on Community and Race Relations. At the meeting, Paul Fromm allegedly interrupted Rodney Bobiwash by shouting "scalp them", resulting in a confrontation. Subsequently, as a result of the confrontation, some Front members were ejected, but two of them, Lincoln and Bristow were able stay as members of the general public.

In early 1992, according to a magazine article, a new kind of militant anti-racist group, Anti-Racist Action was born.[7] In a "three hour festival of vocal havoc and counter-intimidation" in front of Toronto's Ristorante Roma, Anti-Racist Action demonstrators tried to confront the estimated 40 skinheads inside.

"Finally, at 11:00 p.m., a cordon of officers shielded the Neo-Nazi's from a barrage of eggs as they fled the scene".[8]

The Ristorante Roma incident was to "characterize what ARA was going to be like". According to Kevin Thomas:

"The group ... was mostly made up of people who hadn't done anything like this before, so we weren't going to abide by the rules laid out for people on how you're supposed to negotiate political action. It was like, 'no we'll do whatever works'. There's been sort of that theme all along".[9]

At the Ristorante Roma, Droege asked Grant Bristow to negotiate between the two groups. The police wanted people to leave the premises peacefully and, with Grant Bristow urging a peaceful withdrawal, this took place.[10]

The Anti-Racist Action, or ARA, according to "This Magazine" had the motto, "Do what works. It's what works that counts. Do it now, right this instant". ARA newsletters provided information on how to "hack into" the Heritage Front hate line and block messages. ARA members demonstrated in front of Heritage Front meetings, and would confront individual Heritage Front members. ARA members would not wait for the Heritage Front to act first. Eventually, a small group of ARA members would "trash" (vandalize) Gary Schipper's house.[11]

According to the ARA, "hate was getting younger" and it was becoming attached to street violence. It was time for different solutions:

"a number of inner city youth who'd had run ins with the skin-heads decided that court battles against phone lines weren't enough. Federal laws might be able to stop racist propaganda after a few years of hearings, they figured, but they didn't help much when skin-heads were threatening you in your favourite drinking hole or in front of your locker".[12]

Continued

Footnotes


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