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Tuesday while posting flyers around the city for my programs a man rushed up beside my bicycle, grabbed the stack of flyers in my bike basket and ran off with them.

This was around 3pm at Queen and University. I gave brief pursuit on my bike. As I did so he shouted, “You vermin! I’m tired of tracking you around the city to tear down your posters.”

I shrugged it off and continued along Queen with the few I had left.

At Queen and Spadina as I was posting a flyer on a kiosk the same man came up from behind me and stole my bike.

There was a police car parked on the spot. I alerted the officer.

“I was offered money to tear down your posters, more to break your legs and $1,000 to kill you. The thing is, if I have been offered this, others have,” a fellow living on the street told me just before Christmas 2017.

Clearly this man is being paid to tear down my flyers.

I know no one is going to do anything about this. Not my City Councillor, not my MPP, not my MP, not our mayor, not our Prime Minister, not the police, not the city and not most of the people reading this.

So why talk about it?

I talk about it so that no one can say they did not know.

A few years back when the city tried to outlaw street postering I led the battle against the city. Jane Jacobs, the author of THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES, saw street posters as the newspaper of the street. She understood their importance.

She lauded me for defending the right to street poster. I met her and her family when they first came to Toronto in 1968 because she had seen a street poster for my programs.

“My mother loved you,” her son James has told me several times when we met on the street. I reply. “I love your mother.”

THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA, in the Ramsden Decision, defended street postering as freedom of speech for people without access to mainstream media.  They did not defend it so that a few could monopolize it, make a business out of it or use it to spread hate and slander.

The City of Toronto took a long time developing its street poster bylaws. They are extremely well thought out. They are eminently fair. Posters can be no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches. Only one poster per subject can go up on a kiosk. Posters for businesses may not be placed on utility poles.

The only problem is the city refuses to enforce them.

This week when I was blindsided by the man who stole my flyers and my bike I got off lucky. I’m still alive.

We lose our rights when we refuse to stand up for them.

A couple of years ago Ed Keenan of THE TORONTO STAR dropped by to do a story. The first thing he said coming in was, “Reg, you are the only person in this city who stands up.”

I said, “There are more but not very many.”

There aren’t.

There never has been.

Albert Einstein discovered that. Martin Luther King. Jr. discovered that. Every man and woman who has stood up against oppression has discovered that.

The Italians created The Mafia because they learned the hard way that no one was going to help them.

Henry Miller, in his OPEN LETTER TO SURREALISTS EVERYWHERE, wrote, “…When at last each man realizes that nothing is to be expected from God, or society, or friends, or benevolent tyrants, or democratic governments, or saints, or saviours, or even that holiest of holies, education, when each man realizes that he must work with his own hands to save himself, and that we need expect no mercy, perhaps then…Perhaps! Even then, seeing what manner of men we are, I doubt. The point is that we are doomed…No God is coming to save us. No system of government, no belief will provide us with that liberty and justice which men whistle for with the death-rattle.

Miller is right.

For years commercial posterers have been covering up and/or destroying everything they are not paid to post. They ignore the city’s bylaws regarding size and quantity. The freedom of speech the Supreme Court protected has long been lost thanks to the apathy of the people who should be protecting it.

Last week I posted flyers nearly every day. Every day I went out I found the material I had posted the day before gone.

Now I know why.

Jane Jacobs taught me when we see something wrong being done and do nothing about it we kill a part of our self.

Over the years an awful lot of people have told me that if I would not speak before my programs they would come to them.

Jane Jacobs was a regular at my programs from her arrival in Toronto until her deteriorating health no longer allowed her to do what she most liked to do, to walk the streets of our city.

Over a few beers in her home one day she said, “The best part of what you offer is what you have to say.”

This year I learned I am numbered among the top fifty greatest male speakers of all time.

For decades myself and others have been slandered with street posters meant to bring violence upon us.

The country’s paper of record, THE GLOBE AND MAIL, did a story on it. Did people care? Do people care?

Some, yes.

Adam Vaughan, my former City Councillor and now a member of Parliament was slandered with street posters put up by the same person. Has he acted to stop this man? No.

Even Jane’s son Jim did nothing. “This storm will pass,” he wrote in an email.

Yes, eventually all storms pass.

What matters is what we do to help while they are raging.

Cities are destroyed not by the people who live in them but by the people who govern them. This is what Jane Jacobs’s THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES is about.

City planners do not like people who stand up to them. Jane stood up to them. She was jailed.

One of the key things city governments do to discredit those who oppose them is arrange sex scandals. Jane writes about that in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.

I shut down my programs for the winter in 2018 because it is too cold to post flyers on the street. I began them again on March 17 & 18, 2018.

On March 18 a man who came to my program asked if he could access the internet to check his mail.

At the end of May 2018 SEX CRIMES raided me with a warrant that stated “On or about March 18, 2018 child pornography had been downloaded to my address.”

Life forces us to be strong. My father always stood up for others. It broke his heart when he learned the hard way how rare a man he was.

I have documented the death threats I have received. I have filmed the continual harassment myself and others have been and are enduring.

While I don’t like to quit right now I don’t see the sense in investing energy, money and time to post flyers around the city for my programs knowing they will be destroyed shortly after I post them.

I also know that I can (and likely will) be physically harmed if not killed.

One of the thousands of posters attacking me asked, “What would Jane Jacobs do?” The poster implied I was producing child pornography.

When I was taken into police custody I saw written on the wall of the police station, “Better a guilty man go free than an innocent one be convicted.”

My lawyer told me that as the crown found no evidence I was producing child porn they would accept a plea of guilty on a minor charge.

They always do that.

I am not pleading guilty.

I do know what Jane Jacobs would do.

She’d say to her son, Jim, she’d say to The City Of Toronto, she’d say it to all who have chosen to do nothing, to be silent while this storm rage, “Shame on you.”

I’d like to see Toronto become a city Jane Jacobs would be proud of.

That city would be filled with people who stand up.

It’s something worth doing.

The people who pride themselves on taking Jane Jacobs walks all too often walk away. Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy said, “I have seen those posters attacking you. They are hate. Why aren’t the police doing something?”

I said, “The police are doing what they can. You do something.”

Joe’s office says, “There is nothing we can do.”

People pay lip service to Jane Jacobs’s ideas. Then they walk away.

Jane never walked away. She always did and kept doing until whatever had to be stopped was stopped.

I do the same. Walk with me. A coward is a dead man walking.  Even though I know the flyers I post are coming down there is the chance that while they are up they will be seen like the many who have come here and had their lives changed for the better,

Though I risk harm and possibly death by going out with them I’d rather that than let the threat make a coward of me. I could not live with myself if I did that.

It was a hard day Jane Jacobs realized there were better places to live than New York.

I beginning to think there are better live than Toronto.

–Reg Hartt 2019–08–18

 

My bike has to be replaced. My lawyer has to be paid. Donate $100 to my costs and I will send you a signed copy of my book THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED ROCHDALE COLLEGE. Add another $100 and I will send you my acclaimed free verse re-telling of THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH.

In Toronto drop by THE CINEFORUM, 463 Bathurst Street in Toronto. Listen to what I have to say. For Jane that was the best part of the program. I don’t speak before all my programs.

Chandler Levack calls The Cineforum, “The most perfect place in Toronto to take a date.” Come with someone you care for.

reghartt@gmail.com

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reg_Hartt

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/toronto-alternative-theatre-founder-stands-up-to-bullying-threats/article549053/

 

https://www.ranker.com/list/famous-male-orators/reference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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