This will be the first time that I speak publicly after saying nothing for a year and a half. For the first time since being arrested on June 26th, 2010, my words can no longer (at least this time) be twisted and used against a group of other indicted and non-indicted “co-conspirators”. I have been at a loss for words throughout this process primarily because of the understanding that these words could be attributed to anyone deemed a co-conspirator, but also because I didn’t know how to react to being charged with conspiracy.
How could I not see the charges coming? Many have asked me. For some time, I wondered that myself. This is not because I had done anything “wrong” or “illegal”, but because “wrong” and “illegal” are cleverly, and purposefully elusive things, ever-changing at the whim of those who change their meanings to suit their purposes. How could I not see that this State, which began with a series of acts of destroying and erasing those who would not accept it’s imposed authority on the land it stole, would use the same tactics it has always used. These tactics are used against those who denounce the State’s authority and those who oppose its oppression, or against those who simply choose to believe in the freedom they have been promised by this State. I was ill-prepared for a charge of conspiracy despite the knowledge that conspiracy is the oldest trick in the book against those who dare build communities that reject the state’s intervention. It was used to bust union organizers in Winnipeg during the General Strike of 1919, and to make the Communist Party an illegal organization in Toronto in 1932. It was used against the Chicago 8 in the 1970s and the RNC 8 in 2008 in the United States. It is used everyday against targeted communities, against indigenous people, trans-gendered folk, and anyone who fits their profile of a “terrorist.” Once I remembered these facts and this history, I realized that, despite this knowledge, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that the courts will enact justice.
We should always see this coming, no matter what kind of political work we engage in, when we do work that the State fears, because it questions the State’s legitimacy. We should prepare ourselves to be charged with crimes that the state has constructed to keep all of us in line. We should not be talking about guilt or innocence, though, nor of justice being served in the courts. We should know that in the courts, that which is unjust becomes law and that which is a struggle for justice is deemed illegal or unlawful.
Conspiracy charges are the stuff of repression. The fear of the unknown threatens the hegemony and control of the state more than anything. The private discussions of a group of people sends chills down the backs of those in power. We see in so many cases the claim that a desire to be secretive, or simply not have one’s conversations open to police infiltrators is itself enough proof of some sort of unlawful plan. That reasoning implies that a private sphere only exists in one direction. We should prepare for this reasoning and be reminded that our struggles cannot take place in the courts. This knowledge should make us stronger in our resolve to fight on our own terms. My agreement be part of a plea was informed by the understanding that getting out of the courtroom means getting back into the streets.
Now, my charges have been withdrawn in exchange for 6 of my friends pleading guilty to counseling against the state` and the power-hungry assholes who it protects. I don’t feel that my friends committed any crimes, nor that justice has been served. What I feel is anger that they will be further removed from their communities, but I know that they will find ways to make community in jail. I will continue to support them from across the bars.
Gustav Landauer, a German anarchist, once said that “The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another… We are the State and we shall continue to be the State until we have created the institutions that form a real community.” The community that I found in participating in the Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance and organizing against the G8 and G20 with the TCMN, was exactly this kind of new social relationship. For me, an anarchist, finding a group of people who yearn and strive for the same dream and commitment to building a voluntary society full of experimentation, and combative of all forms of oppression, is what makes my heart dance. More importantly, it fills me with the energy and empowerment to fight structures of oppression – those that we have been socialized to live in and those that we recreate ourselves.
I have been lucky enough to have always had some form of a community to rely on and participate in. I feel that my primary responsibility after not uttering a word for so long and after receiving so much support, is to share words of gratitude.
I have a family that is supportive and loving, despite having a different political path than my own. My parents and my sister have given me the room to become the anarchist they don’t want me to be and loved me despite our differences. Thank you for putting up with a sometimes moody me, dealing with scary news with courage, driving to Milton to visit and put money in my canteen. Thanks for the walks, the delicious meals, for making it possible to see friends, entertaining new people, writing countless notes, and for accepting me.
I am humbled by the friends that have always been there for me and who have loved me, and by the immense work they have done and continued to do during this whole process. For organizing fundraisers, planning events, and sending updates; for doing the work that was left when so many of us were arrested, despite the threat of repression; for giving money and time; for the daily 15 minute calls from Vanier; for the hours long phone marathons; for the should-be-2-but-turn-into-4-hour drives to London; for all of the visits – some from Germany, even; making room in your homes; driving to court and then back again; for board games; the care packages; the postcards; the surprise 30th birthday party; the letters of support for bail variations and to get legal aid; for words of encouragement; for hugs in hallways; for meetings at York; helping us move; full Staggenborgs; for taking care of Bamboo; for artwork, patches, mixed CDs, and borrowed yoga videos; for emails that could not be answered; and hugs that could not be delivered. Thank you for thoughtful insights, generous hearts, and your solidarity.
A friend of mine has said: “throwing health and well-being upon the illusion of the fascists’ heart is worthless indeed…History proves that those who have arranged the social order we’ve inherited have no such weakness as hearts. Power concedes nothing without demand.” These words remind me that there is no place for begging for justice or hoping that the legal system will be just. Laws exist not to make justice, but to keep the current structures of power in place. Those of us who believe we do not need this kind of order cannot wait in hope that justice will come or that power will check itself, we must know to work for it outside of the courtrooms and parliaments of the state and to do more than ask. We must demand and fight to end injustice ourselves. We must take justice.