This message is for those who know me personally or who find themselves in solidarity with my political, social, and legal struggles. Certainly others can read it, but it is not directed towards them.
Thank you to the people who put me up in their homes when we were told our only other option was to sit in prison for years awaiting trial. Thank you to the organizers from the TCMN who kept things going during the Summit despite the massive repression they faced. Thank you to the CSN for continuing to support us politically as we sat in jail or on house arrest. Thank you to the fundraisers and the people who donated funds – our legal system is built on financial coercion and you helped alleviate some of the pressures we were facing because of it. Thank you to everyone who wrote to me while I was in prison – those letters meant so, so much. To my great dismay, the prison guards threw these letters out when I left prison rather than putting them with my belongings as they were supposed to. Its for this reason that I was unable to write back. Thank you to my confidantes, who helped me work through feelings I never expected to feel, and were in many ways unprepared to feel and who struggled to make sense of this mess with me. Thank you to the generations of people who taught me how to fight with my mind, body, and spirit. Most of the people who have taught me what I know today have had to fight the forces of colonialism, patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, heteronormativity, and capitalism more directly than I and out of more acute necessity – their experiences and wisdom are invaluable.
I am a win in this situation. In the eyes of the Crown, I was not supposed to be one of the ones who got away. My release from this process was purchased by those of my co-accused who, at the last hour of bargaining (quite literally), demanded that any deal would have to include the withdrawal of my charges. It is only because of the willingness of some of my co-accused to push that much more after we had been told ‘this far and no further’ that I am not being forced to plead guilty alongside of them. I am out because others are going in. In a very real way, my ‘freedom’ to traverse the streets of Toronto today is proof of the importance of collective defence strategies.
We aren’t the first to go through something like this, and we won’t be the last. We must organize for these eventualities, which means we must organize collective support systems to support our fighters when they are imprisoned – though this is only one of the many collective support systems that we need to establish to be truly effective. To those who may find themselves in similar circumstances in the future, stick together – it is your best defence and establishes a foundation for empowerment even when all the odds seem stacked against you.
We need to strategize and organize ways to minimize the effects of incarceration on the jailed individuals and on our movements. We need to accept that ‘justice’ will never be found under a capitalist and colonial legal system – for any crime, ‘political’ or otherwise. It is beyond the capacity of this legal system to create meaningful systemic change – it is fundamentally conservative in nature and our small legal victories will only ever be defensive victories. The Canadian legal system was created as an extension of British colonial policy and was formulated to justify the violent and underhanded dispossession of indigenous lands for settlement and resource extraction.
The present manifestation of this system criminalizes some migrants for setting foot on these lands while supporting corporate occupations of indigenous lands, it is working to re-criminalize collective bargaining and labour actions while protecting murderous and abusive police, and it facilitates massive transfers of wealth from workers to corporations and banks through tax law and bailouts while avoiding compensation and reparations to indigenous communities for past abuses and stolen lands. We must recognize the legal system for what it is: as another front of the war that the state wages against all of us.
As capitalism and capitalists struggle to cope with financial crises the state will contort the law as necessary and will swell the ranks and capacities of police to ensure that resistance to ‘austerity’ programs does not spiral into something that is ‘unmanageable’. Bill C-31(the ‘Safe Streets and Communities Act’) is already one step in this direction. This means that all people, but particularly radicals and revolutionaries, will be more likely to find themselves in direct confrontation with the police and the legal system. After all, the capitalist system will not abolish itself, not while the state exists to organize and enforce it at least.
Under these circumstances it is essential that we develop community-based support structures to support one another as jobs are lost, as police violence increases, and as social services are cut. We must also be vigilant to prevent the seeds of fascism from being sown, as they are in Italy with its new ‘technocratic’ government. Though a fertile ground for resistance, crisis is also a fertile ground for reactionary right-wing movements. When capitalism hits a crisis it is working people who are expected to prop it up again. To make use of this moment we need to refuse to prop it up – even when they send the police in try to compel us to.
Having my charges withdrawn and these legal proceedings end provides little closure for me. Six of my friends and loved ones are going to prison, and that keeps me very much involved in a very personal way. I will do my best to ensure that Mandy, Leah, Peter, Adam, Eric and Alex do not feel isolated from the movements outside of the prison walls, and I hope that they find inspiration from within them. I hope others will do the same. I also hope that we can share our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned from them in order to build stronger and more resilient movements. Now that I am free(-er) from state controls this what I will put my efforts towards.
This is not an end, it’s just the transition to the next act in the show.