State-approved racism in Canada must stop

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IN MONTREAL, RODNEY KING’S NAME is Marcellus Fran çois, a 24-year-old Haitian immigrant shot to death by police.

In Winnipeg, it’s J.J. Harper, a Native leader killed by police.

In Vancouver, it’s Zhang Feng Hua, a Chinese immigrant whose ruthless beating by cops was caught on home videotape.

In Toronto, it’s Raymond Lawrence, a 22-year-old from Jamaica murdered by an undercover cop just three days after the verdict acquitting King’s attackers. Lawrence’s death sparked a demonstration of almost 3,000 people on May 4 and a rally of more than 2,000 three days later.

These men are just four of the many Black, Latino, Asian, and Aboriginal victims of the racist cop assaults sweeping Canada.

The germ of this epidemic is nurtured in Canada’s shattered economy. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Tory regime is responding to recession and this year’s 31.4-billion-dollar budget shortfall with social and political violence – layoffs, skyrocketing taxes, scapegoating of immigrants, and repression.

To inoculate themselves against Mulroney’s plague, those most vulnerable to it must address both the economic and the political; cause and effects; disease and symptoms.

Opposing police brutality is one part of the prescription. The other is demanding jobs, pay equity, affirmative action, repeal of the free-trade pact with the U.S., and equal rights in every sphere for racial minorities, immigrants, women, and lesbians and gays.

A national, anti-capitalist coalition dedicated to these goals would go a long way toward curing Canada of its ills.

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THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT paid Mary Pitawanakwat to fight racism – but she took her mandate more seriously than they intended. An Ojibway Native, she was fired in 1986 from her job as a social development officer with the Department of Secretary of State in Regina, Saskatchewan, in retaliation for her protests against racist and sexual harassment she experienced there.

Mulroney’s administration has obstructed redress for Pitawanakwat since she first lodged complaints in 1984. She deserves reinstatement, payment of lost wages and benefits, and compensation for suffering.

A Human Rights Tribunal will rule on Pitawanakwat’s case in October. Supporters of Pitawanakwat worldwide have let the tribunal know that they expect justice. If you would like to add your voice to this chorus, write to the Mary Pitawanakwat Defense Committee, P.O. Box 33042, Regina, Sask., Canada S4T 7X2.