“Truth is often stranger than fiction. . .”
So began Miller’s lengthy and noxious opening remarks that would aptly set the tone for a five-week pre-trial heavily peppered with perplexing phrases and dubious “truths”. Is this not, after all, the same courtroom that hears daily reports of rape, murder, pedophilia and extortion? What is it about this case, Mr. Miller, that you find particularly “strange”? Is it political organizing? Direct action? Consensus decision making? Perhaps it is our profitless motives that so thoroughly boggle your hardwired brain and drive you to relentlessly pursue these charges.
As it happens, the morning of September 12, 2011 is not a time for legal proceedings at all, but rather is a time set aside for the masturbatory gesture of a vacuous crown attorney who has been working for more than a year to put a group of 17 decent human beings behind bars. This is his magnum opus; his rhapsodic overture to the court; his opportunity to raise suspicion and intrigue about the inner workings of our 17 depraved minds; to brag about how sneaky and effective his department has been, and to foreground how alarmingly benevolent and reasonable His Worship will find the prosecution throughout the proceedings. He waxes poetic about underground, radical elements of society that threaten social order (but sir: anarchy is simply uncontrolled order!). He boasts about the various accomplishments of the two undercover officers, whose names flow out of his mouth thick like syrup and harden instantly in the frigid environment of a room full of people who have been badly betrayed and deceived by those vile rat-goofs.
What I ultimately gather from Miller’s introductory remarks is that the 17 of us are not being accused of run-of-the-mill thought crimes, that is, of having a collective intention to commit a particular criminal act. The Conspiracy, according to Miller, predates our various political groups, it predates many of us having met each other, and it even predates the announcement that the G20 would be held in Toronto. The Conspiracy, as Miller describes it, lives in our blood like a parasitic infection, a unique brand of liquid crime that flows through our veins. The Conspiracy, as Miller understands it, is our lives.
I start to understand the misnomer “conspiracy” to mean an “ideology”, an entire weltanschauung that he simply cannot relate to and that threatens his (and His Worship’s) very existence. We are merely paradigmatic examples of a larger evil that runs through the fabric of Canadian society, and the G20 was merely an opportunity for Miller and his thugs to bring this sickness to light. We, the G20 Main Conspiracy Group, are part of a wide-spread disease, and the mechanical tentacles of the law are the only cure.
To be clear, what we are really talking about is political dissent.
What we are really talking about are ideas that are commonplace to most anyone with a critical faculty, or a creative vision of what this world could look like; Ideas that are exploding around the world right now, much to the annoyance of dinosaurs everywhere.
Only through the most maligned and obfuscated lens (e.g. the Judicial System) could the impulsion toward healthy community, diverse ecology, and personal autonomy be seen as “extremist” or “dangerous”.
And so, a mere two hours of this legal proceeding is enough for me to recognize the reality of our situation. In this Kangaroo Courtroom, in a desolate corner of North York, our guilt is not only assumed – it is assured.
This system is rotten to the core. Of that we can be sure.
(For every ensuing day of this pre(show)trial I resist the nagging urge to fall into frantic episodes of wild gesticulations, spewing glossolalia and babbling nam-shubs at the judge in an attempt to rip his leathery eyes open to the absurdity of this whole proceeding. Call the Court Marshall! Bring the tasers and truncheons, the injunctions and variations! Bring whatever neo-Pavlovian machinations this court room is equipped with to subdue me, but you’re not gonna shut me up! I am Alexander Berkman obstinately reading his final remarks to an inattentive judge. I am Bobby Seale summoning his Constitutional Rights while slave-owners gaze disapprovingly from the rear walls before he is bound and gagged. This is a war of verbal attrition, and we’re letting them win!)
Your justice is as thin as paper
and betrays with all it’s cracks
its imitative character.
As of this moment, I have spent 15 months of my life with these charges hanging low over my head. I am being charged with three counts of criminal conspiracy with a group of 16 other organizers, some of whom I’ve worked with in the past, some of whom I met for the first time at a legal defendants’ meeting in September 2010 after being arrested. For the entirety of these months I have been banned from being a part of any public demonstrations and from communicating with a wide range of people, some of whom I’ve never met, one of whom happens to be among my closest friends. For 9 of those months I lived under House Arrest Lite© with my parents in Toronto – this is largely because I am from a privileged family and have parents who make for very respectable sureties. If this were not the case, I would still be in jail today, lost like so many others in the vicious oubliettes of pretrial custody.
This system is rotten to the core. Let’s never forget that.
Tomorrow my charges are set to be dropped, withdrawn, stricken from the record. They will dissipate like a putrid fog, and leave me with a taste in my mouth so bitter and vile that I will be spitting venom for years to come.
I am not looking for an “apology and a bottle of champagne” for the time they have wasted, or for the damage they have done – nothing less than the disintegration of all of their prisons will do. Personal closure, for me, will come when 2201 Finch West is converted into a centre for restorative justice and all of their robes, rites and rituals fade into the ether of antiquity.
I feel the trauma and fissure that these charges have brought upon our little corner of the world. This process has been a massive drain on individuals, relationships, and communities alike; yet at the same time I have to admit that this whole fiasco has also energized and inspired me. I feel stronger and more focused than ever before. My roots run deeper, my mind cuts sharper, and my rage burns brighter. Their non-association conditions backfired – for every rebel I couldn’t communicate with, three took the time to introduce themselves.
Rather than feeling constantly overwhelmed and helpless before the totemic walls of fetid sludge that surround me (as I often have in the past), I feel well equipped and well supported on this pursuit to build a more beautiful, healthy and just world. This is the Conspiracy in which I now feel globally and locally implicated.
This whole Toronto G20 boondoggle has occurred amidst an ecstatic, global monsoon of riots, renovations, and revolutions; somewhere between economic awakenings and tyrannical travesties, Occupy battles and flotilla warfares. The world isn’t the same as it was two years ago – despite Miller’s best attempts, the Conspiracy has grown. I can turn on the news on any given day and see unindicted co-Conspirators raging in every corner of the globe.
Let us not forget that people are still being slaughtered in Tahrir square, and that if we are going to achieve the sort of change we need, then we’ve got to stay vigilant, creative, and completely unruly. Recalcitrance, it seems to me, is our strongest and safest weapon.
I want to heap mountains of thanks onto the people who have gone through this experience with me.
My parents for the limitless wells of love and support you’ve shown me, for taking me back into your home and doing everything you could to make it a dignified and healthy experience.
To my co-accused (comrades, co-friendlies, whatever. . .), who have somehow, in all their brilliance and dedication, made this a truly worthwhile trip for me. Every day in court and every gruelling meeting that I endured with you was an absolute honour. Thanks for teaching me solidarity.
To all of those incredibly patient people who contorted their lives to the obscure demands of my draconian bail conditions; who have offered their hungry ears, their beautiful words, their songs and their shoulders: I am eternally grateful.
having been tempered by fire
are like steel.
To the fundraisers, chefs, musicians, letter writers, and other supporters; to our bad-ass cabal of dedicated lawyers; and to those whose ongoing political organizing has kept me inspired and informed: thank you! Your work is so important.
To those who are still facing the repercussions of that fateful weekend last June, and to political prisoners everywhere: you are not alone, you are not forgotten. There are vast networks of us working tirelessly to find and support you. Stay strong!
Finally, to my 6 friends who are pleading guilty tomorrow, please know that I’m holding a great deal of space for you in my heart – I do not consider this thing over and done with until each of you is finally released. I’m going to miss you immensely, and I have no doubt that you have difficult months ahead, but I’ve heard you each articulate quite clearly that the best form of support I can offer is to keep organizing, resisting, and building; in short, to bring the fucking ruckus.
So be it!
They seem genuinely unaware
that they caught me for nothing, and that
I got away with everything. . .