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Posts Tagged ‘Solidarity’

Theresa “Toad” Jamieson vs Gary McHale at the colonial Cayuga courthouse

A forwarded callout from the Two Row Society
#SovSummer  #FreeToad

Remember Gary McHale? He is the anti-native racist organizer who has been provoking and baiting Six Nations land defenders since 2006, who has fronted a bullshit narrative of reverse racism that has been picked up by the likes of Christi Blatchford and Sun Media and poisoned public discourse, who wrote a letter to the Hamilton cops and the cbc threatening to come down to the #SwampLine9 blockade to “monitor” the protesters. Remember when we mobilized against that racist narrative, against his incursions on to the reclamation site, against the so called Caledonia Militia, against the alliance between the JDL and McHale’s (unofficially) white supremacist organization, canace?

Theresa “Toad” Jamieson is a fiercely dedicated front line land defender from Six Nations. She has been and continues to be an inspiration to many people.

On July 3 at 10am, Toad’s trial starts at the Cayuga courthouse. She is charged with “assaulting” Gary McHale on Feb 18 2012 when, McHale – escorted by OPP – forced his way onto Kanonhstaton, the Six Nations Reclamation site, then continued on past the police to worsen tensions and leading to arrests. McHale and the police are both employing the strategy of using racist agitators as bait in order to further criminalize Six Nations land defenders.

Toad is representing herself in court and challenging the court’s legitimacy and it’s alleged right to prosecute her on her own territory. She has asked for us to help mobilize support and to pack the court room.

Having recently been through the court system myself, i can tell you that it was unbelievably empowering to have a courthouse full of supporters there when i used my own sentencing hearing as a platform from which to challenge the system. We should now be extending that same support to Toad, who poses a much greater challenge to the state than I did. At her past court dates, the presence or absence of supporters has made a big difference towards how she has been received by the court; this is another reason it is important for us to be there.

Defenders Of the Land and #IdleNoMore have launched “Sovereignty Summer”, a call to build mounting pressure, including through mass direct actions to be joined by non-natives, to challenge the Harper government and the land destroying colonial system, a call for escalation in the ongoing struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, and now is a time to step up our support for Indigenous land defenders. In the wake of the amazing #SwampLine9 blockade which took place on Onkwehonwe Grand River Territory, it is especially important to support frontline land defenders from Six Nations.

The Cayuga Couthouse is at 55 Munsee St. N. The attached callout from the Two Row Society has contact info for people in various cities to help coordinate rides. I really hope to see lots of people there; this is a personal plea for folks to support the callout and pack the courthouse.

-alex.

#SovSummer #Solidarity

ps. Please do read the callout (here) and join the FB event (here)

Support Six Nations Land Defenders: an open letter to all those who have supported me

This is a letter I am writing to everyone who supported me over the past two years, since our arrests brought to light the massive police operation against a group of solidarity activists and community organisers.

In that time I have received such an incredible amount of support from friends and family, from allies, from “movement” organisations, and also from civil liberties organisations, academic and journalist associations, and unions. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude and appreciation for all of it.

As I head back into jail on Tuesday, lots of people have been offering renewed support, and having seen how substantial that support can be, I am asking that the support people are hoping to give to me over the next year, be instead extended to the new Legal Defence Fund recently established for Six Nations Land Defenders.

The type of targeting, repression, manipulation, intimidation and harassment that were directed at anarchist and other activist communities in the lead up to the Olympics and the G20 are realities that are standard fare in Indigenous communities where resistance to colonialism is a part of daily life.

However, in the years since the Reclamation action in 2006, people from Six Nations have not always seen the same kind of support that I and some of the other G20 defendants received.

Part of what is sadly ironic about the contrasting levels of support is that those who were most directly targeted by the intelligence/security operation against activists in the lead up to the G20 were those whose primary organising work includes building linkages and relationships with the strong network of Indigenous Sovereigntists and their allies, migrant justice organisers, and anarchists. The policing operation was largely designed to disrupt those relationships and that movement building. These are standard tactics used against the resistance movements that arise from Indigenous and other racialized or otherwise targeted communities.

I would like to propose that we now strengthen those linkages by turning the massive capacity for support that we have developed over the past two years towards supporting front line land defenders from Six Nations.

Since 2006 there has been a particularly insidious wave of criminalisation and demonisation aimed at Haudenosaunee people who are asserting the sovereignty of the Six Nations Confederacy and defending the land. The tactics used in everyday policing operations against Six Nations, like with other Indigenous nations, are exactly the type of oppressive state security that the rest of the southern Ontario “activist community” got a taste of around the G20.

I would strongly encourage you to consider formally supporting the new Six Nations Land Defenders Legal Defence Fund.

The fund is currently being administered and coordinated by the April 28 Coalition which includes organisers from Six Nations as well as established allies from various unions and activist organisations. If the fund is successful, a formal board of directors will be established and procedures codified. For now, the immediate concern is fundraising for Francine “Flower” Doxtator and Kevin “Sleeper” Greene, though the goal is a sustainable fund that can cover legal costs for people from Six Nations who are charged while engaging in land defence actions.

Support for the Six Nations Land Defenders Legal Defence Fund could include a formal endorsement, a public statement of support, promotion within your organisations or networks, and/or making donations. Please contact the April 28 Coalition (kanonhstaton@gmail.com) for more information, or visit this link to donate directly: http://bit.ly/K39HCN.

Thanks again so much for your continued support

Sincerely,
alex hundert

A Response to Judy Rebick

February 27, 2010 17 comments

The Black Bloc and the 21st Century anti-Colonial Movement at the Olympics

Judy Rebick, from her office in downtown Toronto, complained that “when a spontaneous anger against the Black Bloc emerged on social media, people berated us for ‘dividing the movement.’” She says that, in fact, “it is the Black Bloc that is dividing the movement.”

She is wrong.

I have been involved in a wide array of coalitions on various issues over the past half-decade, and never have I witnessed cross-movement solidarity like I have in the anti-Olympics campaign. In southern Ontario, as in Vancouver, radical groups from a variety of locations in the broader movement have come together to start to develop a shared anti-colonial analysis. This solidarity and unity, on the anti-colonial front, is deeper and stronger now than it has been at any point in the last ten years.

A strong example of that solidarity was on display during the February 12th “Take Back Our City” march. That march saw upwards of 2000 people march on BC Place during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. That march was lead by Indigenous women. When the march reached the police line outside of BC Place that night, the cops started pushing and shoving the front line of the stalled march. Indigenous women called for the Black Bloc to move to the front to hold the line. When the elders amongst that leadership group decided that the crush from the police was too much, the Black Bloc made space for them to move to the back of the crowd.

21st century anti-colonial analysis is one that is able to identify commonalities between the struggles of the urban poor and those of Indigenous sovereigntists. Where colonization is ongoing against First Nations, we are also able to see gentrification and the criminalization of homelessness and poverty as a form of urban colonialism. In Vancouver (and elsewhere) there is often no distinction between Indigenous soverigntists and the urban poor; they are often the same people.

This 21st century analysis is finally moving beyond political philosophies rooted in 19th and 20th century Eurocentric intellectual traditions (such as those fostered by anarcho-socialists like Mick Sweetman of Common Cause in Ontario, who still choose to see the world through the lenses of an industrial workers struggle). This new anti-colonialism is one that seeks to push out the old colonial patterns of European intellectualism to make space for fundamentally different cultural ideas rooted in places other than Europe.

This 21st century analysis is moving beyond the empty rhetoric of “revolutionary acts.” We no longer wish to seize the machinery of the State to use it for our own ends; we wish to see it dismantled, to be replaced by something other than a new Euro-American colonialism. A better world than that is possible, but it cannot come about until we move beyond the dominant paradigms of our culture. Statism and white supremacy must be resigned to the dustbins of history.

Part of the strength of the anti-Olympic campaign, as a watershed for the new anti-colonial movement, has been the solidarity and unity around a “diversity of tactics.” Part of that solidarity is rooted in the idea that you cannot attack one part of the movement without attacking the whole. When we remember to defend each other, we also remember to work together to build the movement and our communities. This cannot be done by succumbing to the classic colonial tactic of divide and conquer. Diversity of tactics means that one day we smash the system and the next we build alternatives. The Black Block is a wrecking ball tactic that makes space for more mainstream or creative tactics. The anarchists who participate in the Bloc are for the most part solid community organizers and people who are at the forefront of making space for creative alternatives to capitalism and colonialism. A diversity of tactics is meant to be complimentary—different tactics demonstrate different values and objectives, and all must be viewed in sum.

***

The highlight of the anti-Olympic convergence in Vancouver, for me, has been to see a coming together and mutual solidarity between Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) and Indigenous sovereigntists (and their allies)—two demographics whom have been especially under attack by the Olympic and State machines. In fact, on the streets of Vancouver, increasingly it would appear that the sovereigntists and the anti-poverty activists are often the same people.

Working as allies, not just in a supporting role, have been a wide array of activists from many sectors. Prominent amongst the organizers in the Olympic Resistance Network (ORN) and throughout the convergence have indeed been anarchists who participated in the Black Bloc actions during the “Heart Attack” march on February 13 2010.

What Judy Rebick, and many other critics who have had little to do with the anti-Olympic movement, have entirely failed to notice is the fact that the Black Bloc was supported by almost every constituency of the ORN. This show of solidarity was not divisive—it brought us together and has built deep trust between activists who, in the past, have often had very little to say to each other.

Organizations that were publicly represented include (or had individual members present and unmasked): No One Is Illegal, the Council of Canadians, PETA, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), StopWar.ca, Gatewaysucks, the Vancouver Anti-Poverty Committee, Food Not Bombs, and many more. None of those organizations have denounced the actions of the Black Bloc that day. And they can’t, because their members know that on that day, they were there to support the Black Bloc. Anyone who says that they didn’t know what was going to happen is lying. There were 200 people in black with masks on, and “Riot 2010” has been a rallying call for the movement for more than two years now. Everyone knew what was going to happen, and they all marched anyway.

For Judy Rebick to claim that the Black Bloc had “come into the middle of a demonstration with black face masks [to] break up whatever takes their fancy when the vast majority of people involved don’t want them to,” is either dishonest, or a sign that she has stopped paying attention to what actually happens on the ground. The Black Bloc is not dividing the movement—people with aspirations for mainstream acceptance who distance themselves from other activists are.

Judy Rebick is going to have to decide whether she wants to be a celebrity, acceptable to the CBC and their mainstream audience, or work on the ground with people who are fed up with capitalism, with colonialism, and also with the paralyzing cult of non-violence. It is time to realize that there are people who are ready to fight back, and that it is time to support them.

***

After the police clashed with the Bloc that day, and affinity groups were forced to scatter (the Black Bloc doesn’t do peaceful arrests—the tactic dictates mutual protection from the police instead), the majority of the “non-violent” marchers continued in support. Some of them allowed themselves to be arrested by the frustrated police. Blaming anyone other than the police for the conduct of the police is merely a legitimization of the police presence on our streets—it would be like blaming the poor for the criminalization of homelessness. I expect people to know better. Cops are no more than armed thugs-for-hire.

In fact, the willingness of unarmed activists to battle with heavily armed riot cops, in order to de-arrest people they may have never met before and may never be able to identify, is one of the strongest forms of solidarity I have ever witnessed. We have to be willing to physically protect our own communities, no matter the cost, by any means necessary.

This is the type of message that the Black Bloc sends. The point is that we don’t need or want your cops or your capitalist colonial system. The point of such actions is not to convince bystanders or any particular audience to join us in the streets. The point is to put people on notice that there exists active insurrectionary resistance, right here in the belly of the beast.

For Judy Rebick to suggest that Black Bloc tactics “put other people and the issues we are fighting for in jeopardy,” is just preposterous. The mass audiences that dismissed the “Heart Attack” march are consistently the same mass audiences who generally dismiss every form of direct action and every radical cause. Judy may be too used to her celebrity status to notice, but most people aren’t paying attention to start with. So-called “nonviolent direct action”, with rare exceptions, is also summarily dismissed by most people, most of the time. They want us to go through so-called proper channels, not understanding that the system exists to perpetuate itself, not to accommodate change or the empowerment of communities under attack. Begging the government for change merely legitimizes their claim to be the rightful authority over land and people. Too many, enamoured with the cult of nonviolence, have too easily parroted the conservative media narratives that so predictably hamper our movements.

Further, it is not unity under a commitment to a “diversity of tactics” that stifles debate within our movement—that is what we call solidarity. It is a zealous adherence to dogmatic “non-violence” that shuts down any meaningful dialogue.

***

An important point that nobody seems to have picked up on, is that the targeting of the Hudson’s Bay Company actually opened up space for Canadians to stop and think about the colonial history of HBC, if only briefly. Those citizens still capable of critical thought were left with little choice.

Two days after the “Heart Attack” march, there was an anti-poverty march which was attended by many liberals and so-called progressives—MP Libby Davies, for example. A group broke off from that march, hopped the fence to an empty lot (owned by condo developers, under lease by VANOC) and cut the locks from the gates, opening them up for people to set up the Olympic Tent Village which will still stand at least until the end of the Olympics. Many activists who participated in the Black Bloc at “Heart Attack” have been there ever since, volunteering almost around the clock cooking meals, working security shifts, helping set up tents and keeping them dry, working the medic tent, organizing new actions with members of the DTES community, etc., etc. Meanwhile, more liberal folks (like Dave Eby of the BCCLA) showed up once or twice for photo ops without ever setting foot inside the camp or talking to any of the people without homes whom they build their careers speaking on behalf of.

It is not the champions of civil liberties, the democratic reformers or academics who are down at the Olympic Tent Village. While they are in their offices, it is community organizers and radicals who are on the ground working side by side with neighbourhood residents, participating in real community building. At the Tent Village the State machine has been shut out from the site. Inside, residents of the DTES are rising up.

I’ve been at the front gate doing security, for more hours than I have not, over the past ten days. In that time many conversations with Vancouverites or Olympic tourists who pass by have turned to discussions of the “violence” on the 13th. I have watched multiple individuals take off their HBC red mittens and toss them in the garbage. While these people may not take any further action, in the face of the gross poverty on the DTES, they had no choice but to be ashamed. It was the broken windows which identified HBC’s Olympic merchandise as an appropriate symbol to bear that shame.

Stella August, an Indigenous elder and a member of the DTES Power of Women group has publicly defended the Black Bloc’s actions during “Heart Attack.” Those who have chosen to denounce the action without any appreciation of the dynamics on the ground in Vancouver should be just as ashamed as the people wearing those mittens.

People and communities are under attack and it is time to fight back. If you’re not willing to stand up and fight, or to support those who are, please at least get out of the way.

No Olympics on Stolen Native Land

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Solidarity with Six Nations and organizing against the 2010 Olympics.

For over a year now, AW@L has been devoting much of energy to our No Olympics on Stolen Native Land campaign. In October of 2008 we, along with some of our friends from Toronto, Guelph and London teamed up with a crew from Six Nations to blockade the Olympic Spirit Train. Just yesterday a friend and I (from KW ARA) worked with a group of youth activists from Six Nations to drop several No2010 banners at the Canadian Aboriginal Festival in Hamilton.

On December 27 in Kitchener, AW@L will be joined by friends from Six Nations and across the region for a rally, march and demonstration against the Olympic Torch Relay.

For AW@L Radio, every time we have spoken with any of the members of Yong Onkwehonwe United (YOU),  they have stressed how central the anti-Olympics campaign was to their work at Six Nations. When Missy Elliott and John Henhawk spoke at the KW Community Centre for Social Justice (kwccsj), as when they spoke at the Rally in Solidarity with Six Nations Land Rights, they stressed the importance of Indigenous-settler solidarity in practise against the Games.

It has been suggested by some media commentators, both locally and nationally, that the Olympics as a target of protest is merely an attention getter. While the international media spotlight is part of the reason this protest movement has become so heated, it is ignorant to suggest that it is the grassroots activists who are the ones that are taking advantage of the spotlight.

The feds, BC, Vancouver, VANOC and the Olympics’ corporate sponsors are using the Olympics to send a message to world; they are all good global citizens representing the alleged Olympic ideals of unity and excellence through competition.

Their $6 Billion media stunt is nothing but a hoax.

Part of the message of the 2010 Olympics is that Canada has reconciled with First Nations—that this is a post-apology Canada. They are trying to make the world forget that we are one of only three countries that have not signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (DRIP). They are trying to make Canada forget that the Union of BC Indian Chiefs refused to endorse the Olympics, so instead a corporation called The Four Host First Nations, comprised by willing Band Council representation from four coastal First Nations, was created to host the Games. They are trying to send the same bullshit message that Harper espoused at the G20 in Pittsburgh when he stated that Canada has “no history of Colonialism.” But Canada does not only have one of the ugliest colonial histories in the world, in fact, in Canada colonialism is ongoing.

On the west coast, in so-called British Columbia, almost all of the territories are unceded, meaning that Canada has no treaties legitimizing their occupation of the land and their control of the resources. One result where treaties have been signed, recently in the case of the Nisga’a, has been the institution of private property on the res. In other places in the west, like in the land claims process across the country, the negotiations are dominated by the structures and limits imposed from the federal side, and only money in exchange for title and access to resources is on the table for “negotiation”.

And this is where it all comes back to Six Nations. The negotiations on land claims at Six Nations are a disgrace; at a total standstill with the feds being obstinate, disruptive and disrespectful. And with respect to those claims, AW@L is very cognizant of the fact that we live on Six Nations’ land.

KW is right on the Grand River, the Haldimand Tract, which is Six Nations territory. Like the Coast Salish Territories, the Grand River Territory is stolen land. The land on the coast remains unceded, and Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford, Cambridge, and others are all partially on lands that have been illegitimately obtained through illegal surrenders.

VANOC parading the torch through the Grand River Territory, like the scheduled “Sunrise Ceremony” planned for Kitchener’s Torch stop, is an attempt to put a certain face on Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people, with Six Nations. Because, at AW@L, we believe in the importance of the stories we tell ourselves in our communities, we don’t intend to let that lie be told unchallenged. Not in our town.

We plan to support YOU and other activists from Six Nations in their stand when VANOC tries to bring the torch through the Six Nations res on December 21; we will support in whatever way we are asked. There the issue is sovereignty. Canada wants Six Nations to participate in the Torch relay as a Canadian municipality. But Six Nations is not a Canadian municipality. So we will support activists from Six Nations when they assert their sovereignty by saying that Canada and VANOC cannot dictate the terms by which an international symbol is paraded across Haudenosaunee territory.

Upriver from Six Nations, we are pleased to be able to say that we are working with our allies there to resist the Olympic Torch Relay when it comes through Kitchener, the last stop on the Haldimand Tract.