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Shane Ruttle Martinez

Shane Ruttle Martinez is a Catalan Canadian independent journalist and human rights activist based in Toronto, Canada. While noted for his writings on Cuban socio-economic and political systems, Ruttle Martinez is best known for conducting investigative research on extremist hate groups, specifically those involved in neo-Nazi and white supremacist activities.

Ruttle Martinez was raised in Canada, but lived for extended periods in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. He holds a bachelor's degree in Human Rights and Political Science from St. Thomas University.

Journalism

Ruttle Martinez began his career in independent journalism in 1999, when he hosted a news radio program entitled The End of White Supremacy on CHSR 97.9FM in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The show featured local and world news on anti-racism activism, and on human rights issues affecting people of colour, religious minorities, the queer community, and immigrants. It continued for three years, and won a Barry Award for making an outstanding contribution to the field of spoken word radio. For one year Ruttle Martinez was also the Assistant Director of the News Department, and hosted the Cuban news and music program Radio Rebelde (named after the national radio station by the same name in Havana, Cuba).

Coinciding with his entry into radio journalism, Ruttle Martinez also ventured into print journalism. His articles focused primarily on federal and global politics, human rights movements, and national liberation struggles. Ruttle Martinez's articles have consistently been within the independent media genre, but have also been featured over the years in The Aquinian, The Brunswickan, and regularly in On the Prowl and Turning the Tide (an anti-racism education and research journal, for which he is a staff writer).

In May 2007 he began writing for the international English edition of Cuba's national paper, Granma. In the course of his endeavours, he has interviewed a diverse array of persons, including Ramona Africa of the MOVE organization, former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, political scientist and media critic Michael Parenti, Camilo Guevara of the Centro de Estudios Che Guevara, and veterans of the Cuban Revolution and the Angolan War of Independence.

Anti-fascist activism

In 1996, Ruttle Martinez became active in community educational initiatives intended to combat racism and bigotry. Originally active with mainstream human rights advocacy organizations, he shifted to efforts which were centred around youth involvement in grassroots anti-fascism and education in 1998. He later helped coordinate efforts which led to the formation of East Coast Anti-Racist Action (ECARA). The organization was an amalgamation of ARA chapters from five major cities throughout the Maritime provinces. The organization came to be a strong and active base for youth involvement in human rights activism in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.

ECARA became known amongst youth in Atlantic Canada, and in the United States as well. Ruttle Martinez was active in the organization of rallies in response to numerous hate crimes, including an attack on three Japanese women by neo-Nazis in Charlottetown in April 2000, and to a cross burning by white supremacists in Moncton in July 2001. He was also a coordinator of the Smash Hate 2002 conference, which was held in Moncton. Ruttle Martinez further helped coordinate long-term opposition to the anti-French group known as the Anglo-Society of New Brunswick, and arranged an ECARA contingent to the large regional demonstration against the racialist and white supremacist World Church of the Creator, in Lewiston, Maine in January 2003.

In 2004, Ruttle Martinez became an organizer in Young Left and helped organize a community response to the activities of the Aryan Nations in the city of Toronto. A series of educational meetings, combined with protests, exposed the alleged leaders of the Aryan Nations living in east Toronto, and in turn effectively shut down the organization. He was also active with revitalizing ARA Toronto and in major organizing efforts to oppose and stop white supremacist demonstrations which were in support of jailed Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, in the summer of 2004. Their opposition successfully managed to prevent similar future congregations of the neo-Nazis, and Zundel was deported to Germany in March 2005. That same year, Ruttle Martinez was interviewed on behalf of ARA Toronto in a National Post article to give an opinion about a former neo-Nazi who was studying to become a pastor. In August 2006 he participated in a memorial event for the 1933 Christie Pits Riots, which included a peaceful protest outside the home of Canadian neo-Nazi leader, Paul Fromm.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

In November 2006, and April 2007, Ruttle Martinez appeared as a chief witness for the Canadian Human Rights Commission before hearings of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in Penticton, British Columbia. The hearings involved a motion by the applicant to add white supremacist John David Beck of Kelowna as a respondent in the complaint filed by the Montreal-based Centre for Research Action on Race Relations against the website www.bcwhitepride.com. The case is a legal first, as it was referred to a hearing at the Tribunal despite a person or organization not being listed as the respondent.

Ruttle Martinez testified that while participating in an international development program in the Caribbean, he conducted an investigation into the website of the B.C. White Pride group, which was suspected to be based in the lower mainland of British Columbia. In the course of his investigation, he said that he was able to identify Beck as the person responsible for the website. In records provided by Ruttle Martinez, Beck allegedly states that he is a "co-founder" of B.C. White Pride, and that he also wrote much of the content which was on the group's website. Shortly after identifying Beck as the party responsible for the website, Ruttle Martinez provided the information to a prominent Ottawa-based human rights lawyer. He was then contacted by the Canadian Human Rights Commission approximately two years later, and was asked to provide an affidavit and supporting evidence from the investigation, which would later be used in the case.

After providing an affidavit to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and during the time Ruttle Martinez testified, he was the recipient of death threats from white supremacists, and was libeled online in an Internet-based defamation campaign by Ontario neo-Nazi Heritage Front leader, Marc Lemire and the Canadian Heritage Alliance. Counsel for the Commission stated that the death threats and defamation were coordinated attempts by white supremacists to intimidate Ruttle Martinez before he was to provide testimony, and in the event he still testified, discredit that which he said. Human rights activists who monitored the attempted intimidation and defamation campaign, noted that it failed to achieve any of its objectives, since Ruttle Martinez still proceeded to testify.

On January 9, 2008, Member Athanasios D. Hadjis of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal returned a ruling in favour of complaint lodged by the CRARR, stating that the allegations regarding Beck were substantiated. Beck was found to have violated s. 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, for posting material online "...that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination." Member Hadjis stated that the material "unquestionably exposed" disabled persons, Jews, and visible minorities to "hatred and extreme contempt". The testimony of Ruttle Martinez linking Beck to the website, and the testimony of Fo Niemi of CRARR used to identify the hateful content, was heavily relied on by Member Hadjis in reaching his decision. The final ruling resulted in a fine of $6,000 against Beck, and a permanent cease and desist order prohibiting him from further posting hate material online.

Electoral politics

Ruttle Martinez has acted as the official representative and campaign manager for the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada candidate Marcell Rodden in the 2004 and 2006 federal elections. The participation by Ruttle Martinez and Rodden in the 2004 election was part of a larger campaign by the MLPC and its parent organization, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) to encourage youth to participate in the political process. In that election, the MLPC ran more youth candidates per capita than any other party. Although never an official candidate, Ruttle Martinez did receive a nomination in 2006 for the MLPC. He also substituted for Rodden in 2004 at an all candidates debate event, where he squared off with the other candidates in the Toronto-Danforth riding, including New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton and Green Party of Canada leader Jim Harris.

At the event, Ruttle Martinez addressed what he viewed as an "inherently corrupt election process", which was designed to serve the needs of the wealthiest electoral parties. He noted that approximately 25% percent of the population was not eligible to vote in the 2000 federal elections, and that that amount rose even further for the 2004 elections. Of the 75% who were eligible in 2000, only 64% of those people actually turned out to vote. Ruttle Martinez said that therefore less than half the population of Canada actually voted in the previous federal election. He insisted that this was "scandalous of a system which purports to be a democracy" and called for widespread efforts by working people to bring about "democratic renewal" through rejection of "solutions proposed by the rich, to deal with the problems of the poor.

Cuban solidarity

Both within and outside of the MLPC, Ruttle Martinez has actively participated in Cuba solidarity projects, including the distribution of the international edition of the Cuban Communist Party's newspaper, Granma, in Canada. CPC-ML founder Hardial Bains visited Cuba several times in the 1990s which led him (and the CPC-ML) to revise his earlier views of Cuba as revisionist. The CPC-ML has become strongly supportive of Cuba and the Cuban Revolution and now has close relations with the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa and prints the English language edition of Granma International.

Footnotes

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