sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (raccoons of the resistance)
Last December, 19-year-old Durham teenager Dafonte Miller was savagely beaten by an off-duty Toronto cop and his brother. A cover-up ensued, made worse by the knowledge that the poor kid is going to lose one of his eyes. It's not the only instance of police brutality against racialized people in this city, but both the young age of the victim and the blatant corruption of both the Toronto and Durham police forces have made the case a symbol for everything that needs to change here.

Earlier this summer, journalist Desmond Cole—already forced out by the Toronto Star for his involvement in Black Lives Matter—was arrested at a Toronto Police Services Board meeting and inexplicably charged with trespassing (this, despite the fact that the meetings are open to the public and press and he more or less followed procedure; the man is, after all, a respected reporter who regularly attends such meetings) and fined $65 for trying to shed light on the criminal assault on Dafonte. This raised tremendous ire amongst all decent people in the city, excepting, of course, the stalwart defenders of free speech, who were strangely silent on the issue.

For this month's meeting, Cole was prepared, and asked people on Facebook to accompany him to the meeting in case they tried something sketchy again. Determined as I am to squeeze in whatever I can do to help with sorry world before I'm once again buried in an even deeper avalanche of work, I showed up, along with a massive crowd of other concerned citizens and press.

I'm not sure I've ever set foot in TPS headquarters before; I don't think I even had to do it when I did my criminal record check, but if so, that was the only time. You need to go through a metal detector and a bag search, which is apparently new this month, and due to the fact that for some reason, members of the general public have recently decided to exercise their right to attend Toronto Police Services meetings, and the cops aren't best pleased about it. They have TV screens set up inside and outside, but the mics are very quiet, and despite the fact that the meetings are supposedly open, it's near impossible to follow the actual discussion. The agendas, while available, skip a number of items for no obvious reason.

Not that anyone was there, it must be said, to discuss The Way Forward plan, budget allocations, or what colour police cars should be. No, everyone was there for the same reason—the deputations—evidenced by a slow wave of folks writing "WE'RE HERE FOR DAFONTE" on the backs of their agendas. There were two issues, somewhat related. One: Unlike every other institution in the city, including my own, the TPS has refused to implement the Don't Ask, Don't Tell* policy issued in 2013 with regards to non-status immigrations. Two: The process into evaluating the success of School Resource Officers (SROs, a.k.a. armed and uniformed cops in schools) is deeply flawed and one-sided, right down to the paltry academic research on the subject being down through Ryerson, the only Toronto university that doesn't have a faculty of education.

At any rate, the meeting went from boring and incomprehensible to seriously exciting the second the deputations, which included Cole and a number of other interesting people, my second favourite being Gita Madan from Education Not Incarceration. The Board made every attempt to minimize Cole's ability to speak, but since he wasn't actually violating any laws, he and the others got the message out—end the SRO program, implement DADT now, and Mayor McBland should resign from the Board. There were a lot of cameras. Then he led a walkout and addressed the crowd on the steps of police HQ.

You can read all about it here.

The meeting room, the overflow room, and the halls were full of people, though again, the crowd seemed to consist of everyone but the folks that claim to believe in a principled and consistent defence of free speech. There were parents with their babies, school teachers, academics, and activists, black, white, indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Asian. I suppose you might call the meeting "raucous"; I would term it "enthusiastic" or perhaps "engaged." It was almost as if regular people decided, together, that we should get a voice in the way "our" police force is run.

Without public pressure like this, there will be no chance at justice for young Dafonte. I feel incredibly honoured that I got to be part of something like this today.

* Americans, I can feel you cringing all the way from here. It means something different in Canada! Here it means that if you provide a public service (such as being a social worker, teacher, doctor, nurse, or theoretically a police officer) you don't ask someone their immigration status, and if you do find out that they are not here legally, you are not allowed to report them to Canadian Border Services. This ensures that no one is prevented from medical care or education, abuse victims can seek protection from their abusers, etc.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Like many (most) of you, I'm grieving the murder of Fellow Worker Heather Heyer, a member of the IWW (an organization I was proud to be a member of for many years), the injuries of dozens of others, and the brutal assault of Deandre Harris at the hands of fascists and white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA. Unlike a lot of (white) people, I'm not surprised. This is America with its gloves off. This is what we warned against. It was always going to come to this, and I fear it will get much worse before it gets better, if it does at all.

For a good long time, I've been actively confronting local fascists who organize and demonstrate under the thin veneer of free speech. Plenty of liberals and radicals alike have informed me that this is a waste of time, that the antifa who show up reliably every time the fash demonstrate are not radical enough, are too radical, aren't diverse enough, are too militant, are not militant enough, exclude less privileged people who can't physically show up, are secretly anti-Semites despite a significant number being Jewish, and are just plain doing it wrong. I'm not into calling out individuals and groups, but I have paid careful attention to who I see there, and who I don't see there.

I can only hope that Heyer, Harris, and those standing beside them and fighting back haven't sacrificed in vain. I hope that this is the end of inaction, of false equivalence, of turning our words on each other rather than on the enemy. I hope that this is a clarion call for action.

I'll repost what I said in the Other Place:

Hey GTA people posting your outrage over Charlottesville: did you know that a group of fascists regularly demonstrate at City Hall under the guise of "free speech"? We go to oppose them and try to prevent them from marching. Sometimes we're outnumbered. If you're really angry about what happened, coming out to shut this shit down here before it becomes tiki torches and vehicular manslaughter is a concrete thing you can do.

Also, if you have $ and are not sure which crowdfunding initiatives are legit, this is a good place to start.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 Listening to some TERF spew TERF bollocks on CBC and I'm struck by how close the TERF (and their buddies, the misogynist right) sound to the arguments of anti-immigration types. You were not born X, therefore you can never be X, etc. Is it then coincidence that the two greatest points of unity on the Alt Reich are the opposition to the human rights of immigrants and trans people?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 
renouf the goof tweetApparently my little design got famous enough to be tweeted by local fascist nutjob Greg "the Goof" Renouf!

I would be flattered were it not for three critical errors in his sentence-long tweet:

1) I'm not actually an anarchist, nor am I part of any anarchist group, nor does this design have anything to do with or benefit any anarchist group. I'm not even sure which anarchist group he's talking about. I mean, I like (some) anarchists and I have broad ideological agreements and commonalities with them, but I lived in a cooperative house for too long to actually be an anarchist, as I'm quite fussy about dishes and such.

2) It says right in the product description that the graphic refers to peacefully dealing with fascism through fun sports like baseball.

3) And this is the weirdest one—I am not nor have I ever been a Christian. I mean, this commemorates a battle primarily fought by Jews, albeit with some Christian allies. But while I've been accused of belonging to all sorts of beliefs and causes that I have nothing to do with, I don't think I have ever in my life been mistaken for a Christian.

So that's neat.
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
Just yesterday, I found myself arguing with a hippie on Facebook over a photo someone had posted of a man holding up an Islamophobic sign at Yonge-Dundas Square. One of the commenters had suggested that what the man needed was a good elbow in the face, and the hippie self-righteously declared that in the name of FREEZED PEACH, holding a hateful sign was not illegal but elbowing someone in the face was.

I pointed out that the sentiment in the sign would lead to genocide, whereas an elbow to the face seldom did.

I hate to say I'm right, but:

At least five people have been killed in a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. The mosque was targeted with a pig's head in the summer and it's pretty safe to say—though, of course, the situation is still developing and we don't know many details—that the mosque was targeted because the most powerful voices in the world have declared open season on Muslims.

I'm so sick with rage and grief that I can barely breathe. I'm almost inured to hearing about mass shootings in the States, but this is here. I'm not so naïve as to think that Canadians are better than this—the same sick racist impulses roil just below the surface here—but it still hits close to home. There were children praying. I pass two mosques every day; it could have been the families that I casually smile at on my way home from work. It's too close, it's too real.

And regardless of what they uncover about the shooters (and we know it's going to be a lone wolf white dude who sparks a serious discussion about better awareness for mental illness; I guess two lone wolves in this case), you know who's to blame. You know who has been stoking the hatred here, in the States, in the sewers of Reddit and 4chan, on Twitter, in the White House, in the Tory leadership race. Holding up signs in Yonge-Dundas Square, aided and abetted by appeasers shrieking about free speech. J'accuse, you all have blood on your hands.

You cannot deal with them politely. You cannot appeal to their reason and humanity. This is the result of a climate of xenophobia, and muddleheaded liberalism has been fertile grounds for hatred to thrive.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (go fuck yourself)
While I don't, personally, have tons of people in my social circle who have horrid ideas, if you expand to friends-of-friends, I encounter a ton of people with horrid ideas on a shockingly frequent basis.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to convince a friend of mine, who is PoC and an academic at one of the most progressive institutions in North America, that he is underestimating the influence and popularity of white supremacy, among other reasons, because he cannot by definition hear what white people say when they talk amongst themselves. I can, and do, and trust me, it's pretty gross. The BLM action on Sunday unleashed a geyser of bile, like a burst pimple, amongst Well Meaning Concerned Straight White Folks Who Are Just Concerned About Sending the Right Message, and I'm still scraping the pus off this morning. The highlight was arguing with a (presumably Jewish, by the name) fellow who posted a Milo Yiannopoulous video about BLM and seemed unaware that he was parroting the beliefs of a misogynistic shitstain who would happily herd him—and me—to the gas chamber and then get in right after us.

It's not far under the surface, festering there. That's why the overt eruptions—PEGIDA, Trump, the alt-right, and so on—are more significant than their actual numbers imply. The vast majority of all humans can't logic worth a damn, and all it takes is the right vile viral idea for them to latch on.

Why the right has been more successful than the left on this is outside the scope of my little rant, but it has been. The fact that it's been able to infiltrate this far into my carefully cultivated echo chamber is proof of just how easy it is to slip into reactionary thinking.

Brexit

Jun. 24th, 2016 07:57 am
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (monocleyay)
Woke up to the news, still kind of reeling.

To my British friends: My condolences. I'm sorry that so many of your fellow citizens voted with the fascists and gave into terrorism.

At least the Pigfucker's gone, though I guess he was going to go anyway and it's a countdown to Führer Farange or Boris as PM now. Just, damn.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
I've been meaning to write a post for awhile on the bizarre sentencing arguments following the equally bizarre conviction of James Forcillo, the pig that murdered a mentally ill teenager on a Toronto streetcar, and the horrible miscarriage of justice in the Freddie Gray murder just reminded me to do so.

Forcillo, you may recall, was charged with attempted murder even though Sammy Yatim died after Forcillo shot him eight times. The weird argument here is that he was legitimately firing in self defence the first time (note that Yatim was alone, wielding a small knife, and Forcillo could have, I dunno, gotten off the otherwise empty streetcar and just waited him out, but why do that when you can gun down a kid, right?), which was when the fatal shots were fired, but the second round was gratuitious. That's dumb as shit, but thanks to the reactionary minimum sentencing laws brought in by various governments starting with Chretien's in 1995, Forcillo is looking at at least five years in prison.

Except! The defence would really like the judge to make a special exception for the rules just for him, because cops are special and get paid over $100,000 a year without having to pay for post-secondary education and get to carry guns and shoot whoever they want. So they've made a series of increasingly Dadaist arguments, including that mandatory minimum sentences were never supposed to apply to cops, and that the sentence could deter domestic violence victims from fighting back against their abusers. In fact, the defence wants house arrest, which is quaint, given that pot dealers who've never hurt anyone in their lives end up in jail all the time. It's almost like jails are unpleasant places where we should be reluctant to send people, or something.

But the most absurd, and most horrible argument for leniency in Forcillo's case is that because Yatim was paralyzed from the first volley of bullets, the second round of shooting, for which Forcillo was convicted, didn't actually hurt him any. As the judge points out, this kind of opens the door to the possibility that it's cool to go around shooting parapalegics in the legs because they can't feel it. But still, this was an actual argument heard in court and the lawyer wasn't immediately disbarred or forced to wear a dunce cap or anything like that.

As far as I can tell, no one has publicly called this argument what it is, which is a prime example of the racial empathy gap. That's one of those things that Canadians (if they've heard of it) think only applies to black people in the US, but examine the rhetoric around how "threatened" Forcillo, a large thug with a gun, felt by Yatim, a skinny teenager, and you can pretty much play racial empathy bingo. Yatim was twice marginalized, as a person of colour and a person with mental illness. Racism in Canada isn't the gaping, bleeding wound it is in the US; here, it's a slow-burning infection, but no less fatal.

We know that the racial empathy gap is real. We know it was a justification for slavery, the association of racialized bodies with mindless animals, less sensitive to pain because they were already hardened to it. We know that it's still a horror in the modern era, with medical professionals unwilling to prescribe as much pain medication to black patients. And it's a factor here, where Yatim's life, his physical and mental suffering in his last moments of life, is given less weight than that of someone with a white body, a white mind.

Forcillo, too, is facing special treatment; that there is even an argument for the courts not tossing him in jail for at least five years (the Crown is asking for 8-10) is a factor of his white skin and his blue uniform. In fact, he is still getting paid $103,967 a year, and will be until he's actually sentenced. There is a fair bit of chatter about that, and rightly so.

I typically don't believe in mandatory minimum sentencing (in fact, I'm broadly against prisons as a whole) but this is the one case where I think it absolutely makes sense, to avoid the sort of bias against victims with skin colours like Sammy Yatim and towards criminals with skin colours like James Forcillo's. I'm not convinced a primarily white legal system, which props up a system of white supremacy, is ready to be trusted with nuance in a case where ancient racist tropes can be invoked to cheapen the life of a dead teenager.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Behemoth (Master&Margarita))
Wanna hear a joke?

A mentally ill kid on an empty streetcar waves his dick and a knife around. The cops come to the scene. From a reasonable distance (i.e., not stabbing range) one of them shoots him three times, then stops to make sure that he's mostly dead, then shoots him five more times. The kid dies. The cop is convicted of attempted murder.

That's it. That's the joke.

I suppose we should be happy that he was convicted of anything at all, given that he was a cop and the prosecution reportedly bungled some things. The takeaway to cops, I suppose, is that if you're going to murder a kid, make sure you don't pause when you're blowing the shit out of him.

Can some more legalistic minds than mine find out if there has ever been a case of attempted murder where the victim died at the scene?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
You know, I don't think I'll ever be able to control my reaction when I knock on a door and get some person who rants about immigrants and Muslims. My heart starts racing and I have to struggle to argue rationally. I have all the facts at my disposal and on my side, but still, it's emotional in a way I can never predict.

I am looking in the eye of someone who, 75 years ago, would have sent me to a camp. That's what it is. And there's a lot of it. I don't know if you can argue someone out of beliefs like that. My politics may have changed over the years but never in my life would xenophobia have made sense. It's like we're coming from entirely different worlds. In mine, borders are an abstract and absurdist notion, the policy of stopping what you're doing and standing for the national anthem is akin to children playing musical chairs, and the control of the free movement of human beings one of the worst travesties imaginable. To them, the lines you are born within—no matter who you are, how much you struggle, how much you suffer—determines whether or not you are fit for life. Any attempt at communication between us is–well, have you read Peter Watts' Blindsight? It's like that.

I invariably get at least one per night out canvassing. Last night's took about half an hour of my time, and I couldn't get away because she wanted to rant to me about immigrants, welfare moms, and the superiority of McDonald's coffee over Timmy's and I just wanted to flee. I'm still pretty queasy over it tbh.

What has to happen to make a person like that? What has to not happen? I'm genuinely struggling to understand.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fighting the man)
Here is a thing that happened:

The government of Canada, in collusion with various churches, kidnapped, tortured, starved, neglected, raped, and in many cases murdered aboriginal children. They robbed them of their families and culture. They beat them for speaking their own languages. When they died—and per capita, more of them died than Canadian soldiers in WWII—they were not returned to their families but buried in mass graves that were abandoned once the "schools" were closed. This fucking abomination, our own Holocaust, committed on Canadian soil with the full blessing of the law and with willful, savage brutality, took place from 1869 to 1996, involved 150,000 innocent children, and dealt a blow to indigenous communities that still echoes today. How can it not? 1996. Do you understand how recent this is, how raw this wound remains?

And it's not a secret. It hasn't been a secret as long as I can remember. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee's report on it was released today, but the information contained therein has been in the news for years. I looked back in my "first nations" tag and found a post I made about Kevin Annett, who did extensive research that revealed estimated death tolls and some of the mass grave locations, in 2008. I remember watching "Where the Spirit Lives," which depicts rape, torture, and murder in a residential school, in 1989. We had like five channels back then, but it was on CBC, which you could get even if you just had a coat hanger wired to the back of your TV. My whitebread honky school showed the movie to us in class (different times; these days it would be too graphic to show to children). Even my shitty Canadian history textbooks, which existed to spread a false image of Canada as a multicultural, democratic, benevolent paradise, had a little paragraph noting that this was a thing that happened. (Minus the mass graves and the death toll, which may not have been that well known back in the 80s and regardless is not a thing that instills national pride.)

I don't pretend to be particularly knowledgable about indigenous issues. I'm white as the driven snow. I know some First Nations people, though not many. I've been vaguely involved in some solidarity activism. But I didn't have to go out of my way to learn that my government kidnapped and murdered children.

Like any decent human being, the fact that this was done enrages me. (Decent human beings, judging by some of the comments to today's Star articles, are at a premium in Canada. But if you are not outraged by genocide there's something wrong with you and you are #gulagbait.) But what also enrages me is the number of people who are acting like they had no idea this happened.

"We didn't study it in school."

"I had no idea it was that bad, though."

JESUS FUCK, people, what did you think happened? Why Oka? Why Caledonia? Why Attawapiskat? Why Bill C-51? Don't you live here?

Like, I get how someone brand new to the country might not have heard about it, as the fact that we fucking slaughtered large swaths of the indigenous population is not something that Canada advertises to new immigrants. But do people just never read the news? Is everyone just relying on Grade 10 Canadian history to be an honest and truthful representation of the European conquest of Canada? I'm actually raging here at how willfully oblivious so many whites must be to have made it to adulthood without having any inkling of the blood that permeates the land they've stolen. It's a testament to the brilliance of our national propaganda machine that it can convince so large a percentage of the population that this is not information worth investigating. And it's a testament to the sheer ignorance and racism of settler culture that, proportionally, more children died in residential schools than in Auschwitz or of the Black Plague, and until today few were willing to call it genocide.

Fuck off. If you were born here and didn't know, it's because you didn't care to find out.

P.S. We also enslaved black people. That's not in the history textbooks, but now you can't not know that either.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
Following, via the internet (because fuck knows I'm not going near actual newspapers or TV right now), the police riot in Baltimore. Like most of you, I'm full of rage and helplessness and horror.

In between updates, I've been mainlining episodes of Daredevil (which is awesome, by the way). I highly recommend it for a variety of reasons. Among them are its portrayal of a very nuanced moral universe. Without delving too deep into spoilers, both the protagonist and the villain do objectively Very Bad Things in the service of a near-identical goal: to improve the neighbourhood where they grew up. The latter sees gentrification and disaster capitalism as the key to fixing Hell's Kitchen; the former fights for the rights of tenants in rent-controlled slums. You can probably guess why I like it, beyond that I enjoy silly TV shows with superheroes beating the shit out of each other.

I'm going somewhere with this.

The show is really, really violent. Like, graphic in a way that makes me flinch, and I do not flinch easily. In between fight scenes, the characters debate whether it's justifiable to take the law into your own hands. The premise paints a picture of a dystopian city, where the rich circumvent the law, manipulate the media, and use the police as a death squad—so, pretty much like we have now—and as a viewer, while you may find it squicksome, you accept the narrative justification for Murdoch putting on a mask and beating the shit out of people every night. Because he's tried the other way, and failed.

Which brings me back to Baltimore.

David Simon, creator of one of the best TV shows ever, is requesting that the "rioters" go home. His voice carries a certain weight, since most of what I know about Baltimore I learned from watching The Wire. But he's wrong. The so-called rioters are home. And I don't see as they have much of a choice at this point.

I want you to imagine you're watching a silly show on TV. In pretty much every episode, a young man dies. Usually he's killed by the police, who are depicted as hopelessly corrupt. The deaths are horrific, over-the-top in their brutality. Helpless victims are beaten, tased, left to die. In the last episode, a young man looks at the cops funny, so they arrest him and sever 80% of his spine.

No one in authority does a thing. The friends and families and communities of the victims try to do the right thing. They try to appeal to the law. To the media. But the police are corrupt, the courts are on their side, and the media is preoccupied with Bruce Jenner or something. When their appeals are met with silence, they take to the streets in peaceful protest. You can imagine what happens next.

At what point, oh viewer, does violence become justified? Let's be honest; if this were a TV show, and not reality, you'd be rooting for the hero to be mowing down these fascists in the first 15 minutes.

Now, I wouldn't recommend violence because the state has bigger guns and is happy to use them, but I understand it. What gets me is the utter lack of empathy on the part of people wringing their hands about a few bricks being tossed, like a window matters more than a young man's life. I don't get why people don't see that every legal, civilized means of dissent has been exhausted and trampled over. I don't get why everyone in that entire city and anyone who can get in a car or on a bus, isn't out there in the streets, protecting the protesters from the cops.

I like fiction because it builds empathy. We can sympathize with drug dealers and junkies when The Wire reveals their struggles and aspirations. We can sympathize with vigilantes when we watch their desperation at an unfair system grow. And yet. We can watch high school kids, armed with nothing more than bricks and righteous outrage, face down a militarized racist police force that won't hesitate to kill them, and complain that they're not behaving like we would want them to, that they just need to lower their voices and their fists and we'll talk this out like rational people, as if anyone in power had any designs on civility. As if were ever anything but an impossible struggle against an implacable enemy. We get this in fiction, so why not when it happens in real life? Is it really that hard to understand?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
In a city that's one of the most diverse in the world, there is only one black councillor on city council.

By a complete coincidence, I'm sure guess who John Tory just dropped from the Police Services Board?

There's a bit more analysis of why in this article, but it basically amounts to changing the role of the board from nominally a civilian oversight committee to the happy co-accomplice in whatever the cops want to do. Now, it's not open season on black people here like it is in Missouri, but it's still pretty bad, and rumour is that Tory wants to continue the practice of carding (a.k.a., blatant racial profiling).

I was just listening to Tory on CBC and it was monumentally disgusting. Matt Galloway was actually giving him a slightly hard time about being too soft on our bloated and corrupt police department and asking who was going to speak for black youth on the Police Services Board, and Tory was like, "Well, I am! They trust me." Ugh.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
Two stories have really dominated my consciousness—and the consciousness of most people in this part of the world—over the past few months. One is the murder of Mike Brown by Darren Wilson; the other, is the exposure of Jian Ghomeshi as a serial rapist.

A few days ago, a grand jury voted against indicting Darren Wilson despite mounds of evidence and that whole thing where usually a prosecutor is working to prosecute the defendant, rather than exculpating him. Predictably, protests followed, and the state responded with brutal violence. That same day, Jian Ghomeshi surrendered to police and was let out on bail.

As these stories were developing, a parallel narrative emerged. Jian Ghomeshi's many, many victims were interrogated about their motives and methods. "Why," cried the concern trolls, "did these women not go to the police?" Any honest person knows the answer to this, but the question itself is a fundamentally dishonest one, designed to protect the powerful predator. The concern troll is concerned about due process and not trying the nice rich man in "the court of public opinion"; he extends no such concern to the victim, who shouldn't have been wearing such a short skirt/shouldn't have been into kink/shouldn't be working in the media, etc.

Likewise, both Mike Brown and those outraged by his murder and by the farce of the indictment hearing were placed under a scrutiny that the murderer (who profited quite handsomely for his crime, and even managed to get married while off on taxpayer-paid vacation!) somehow managed to avoid. "Why not wait for due process?" the concern trolls ask. "Why the anger, the rioting, the uppity insistence that this is about race?" Wilson was given the benefit of the doubt; the 18-year-old child he gunned down was not.

Now that The Almighty Law has spoken, we know that Ghomeshi may face jail for his crimes, and Wilson will not. (It bears pointing out that the two high-profile men who've been in the news for serial rape are both men of colour; some people get held accountable more than others.) Proof that the system works, right? The Powers That Be are listening and the bad guys get their day in court.

Except. There is no fucking way that Ghomeshi would ever, ever, see the inside of a courthouse if his victims hadn't gone to the media first. We know the CBC wouldn't have acted, and police would not have charged him. It was only the massive international outrage that forced the accumulation of evidence and the arrest.

Likewise, Wilson wouldn't have even made it to the indictment hearing were it not for the protests that have shaken Ferguson since August. That we even got as far as an obvious miscarriage of justice is credit to those who wouldn't let it get swept under the rug. Because of those—yes, violent—protests, the fact that a white cop murdered a black child is now an international issue.

Marginalized people have always been told to shut up and be patient while the system works, despite the fact that the system is designed to work against them. We've seen, over and over again, that trust and patience is rewarded with inaction or re-victimization. The only justice Wilson's, or Ghomeshi's, victims will ever see is brought about by working around the system, whether that means going to the media and generating outrage on social media, or burning shit in the streets. It feels very obvious for me to type this, but over and over again, I find myself arguing with well-meaning white liberals about the futility of sitting back and trusting in some sort of magical objective legal system. Here is your concrete proof. I can never be a pacifist because it is only the threat of all hell breaking loose that can threaten the dominance of the powerful.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
It was a bit on the cold side, but in the interests of being able to look my kids in the eye tomorrow and myself in the mirror tonight, I went to the Black Lives Matter Rally in front of the U.S. Consulate. It was a huge crowd (especially since, as far as I know, it was organized yesterday, and also it's Toronto in November) and very well-organized. The mic kept cutting out, unfortunately, but what I could hear of the speeches were powerful and passionate.

I have some bad cell photos to share with you. Sorry about the blurriness, but you can get an idea of the scale.

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sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
A bunch of white people have absolved themselves of any wrongdoing. The going value of black lives has been reconfirmed—which is to say, non-existent. You can kill a dog and face more legal scrutiny than cops who kill black children. And another black child is dead for holding a BB gun. It's fucking open season.

American police have killed 996 people this year. If a street gang did this, we'd consider it a pressing concern. But these guys get paid by your taxes and called heroes so it's okay.

There's a thing at the American consulate at 6 tonight. Guess I'll go. I'm feeling pretty disheartened at the moment.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
People shocked by Ferguson—and a lot of good, intelligent people are—and by the militarization of thuggish local police appear, to my jaded eyes, to lack a certain historical perspective.

There was a blip in North American history, lasting less, I think, than a century, where this sort of atrocity outraged the general population for any length of time. The Lawrence Textile Strike and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire were horrible but up until the Reagan-Thatcher era, that violence begat basic protections for workers. The war in Vietnam, the first televised war, meant that the US had to tread a bit more carefully internationally. But essentially the armed wing of the state has been beating on marginalized and, in particular, racialized populations, regardless—and this is important, would-be pacifists—of whether they resist or not or resort to violence or not, as long as it's been in existence, to a chorus of shrugs and sighs from those too privileged to be directly affected.

Ferguson dominates the media cycle at the moment, not because it is radically different in content from similar crackdowns in the past, but because it is the first of a thing. The first time many people have seen the active deployment of police outfitted with military gear. (Unless you've been at a protest in the past twenty years. Or you're not white.) The first time it's not just televised, but livestreamed, tweeted, reblogged. The first time people have been able to hold out long enough without being crushed to get it into the news cycle. Among the first times the citizen media has been able to loudly counter the mainstream narrative. But beyond the technological angle, it's not shocking or surprising or any sort of historical aberration; if anything, the aberration is the aforementioned few decades where speaking truth to power actually had an effect.

The next time this happens, the militarized police response, the almost inevitable murder of demonstrators, will be routine. That's how it works. That's why it's happening now, unfolding in the way it is; to pave the way for the new normal. So that next time we can just sigh and remember that getting outraged didn't work last time so why bother now? That's just how things are.

The other day on the radio, I was listening to an interview with Ken Jarecke, the photographer who, in 1991, took a picture of an incinerated Iraqi soldier just before the Gulf War ceasefire (this is the photo, if you need to see it; here is an interview—with the man's face blurred out—about the photo's significance). The photo was suppressed in the North American press; at the time, the trend in news reporting was to sanitize the war, to make it look like there were really no casualties at all on either side. I was 12 in 1991; I knew what war was, that obviously people were dying, but the essential truth of it, the genuine outrage and the horrific human cost, didn't hit me until several years later, when I came across that photo. Nowadays, such images are commonplace, and Jarecke was speaking about how photos of dead bodies from war zones had completely lost their power to shock. I think he's mostly right; the photos of dead kids in Syria and Gaza splashed all over my Facebook feed have never changed a single person's mind on the issues at hand. In 1991, the AP felt the need to suppress that photo for no reason I can see other than that it might make people question the war, might make them not go along so readily with the next one, might—and this would have been the worst thing—recognize the humanity of the enemy. It had power, back then. Now, we understand that the Other is human, suffers horribly as the result of our actions, and we don't give a fuck.

We are able to briefly give a fuck about Ferguson because it still has the power to shock—this time, and not completely; open racism is socially acceptable again in the US, and so the KKK can raise money to smear the reputation of the murdered child in question. When it happens again—and make no mistake, Ferguson is the future of policing—we will all understand the collective truth that this is the way it always happens, the way it's always been done.

ACAB

Aug. 13th, 2014 09:06 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Behemoth (Master&Margarita))
The stupidest comment I've seen today (in response to a comment I made elsewhere about how police can basically murder with impunity):

"I don't think being put on adminstrative leave pending investigation and having your murder inspire riots and protests is "impunity.""


Pity the poor cop on paid leave who isn't currently dead or having his skull bashed in, unlike a good many other people. The only thing worse than cops is the culture of racism and bootlicking that enables them. And that's regular people with a fetish for authority and a delusion that what happened to that poor kid in Missouri won't ever happen to anyone they love.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
Do you know what racism is? Did you know that everything you think you know about racism is wrong?

Well, here is a rich white guy to mansplain to you a thing. Dougie Ford, ladies, gentlemen, and folks who do not fall into the gender binary, is here to set the record straight:


"Racism isn't just about religion and colour and race. It's about going after someone relentlessly on a daily basis."

"You can be racist against people that eat little red apples, you can be racist against people that have a drinking problem, you can be racist against people that are too fat."


Thanks, yeah, apparently I was wrong about how racism is the systematic repression of marginalized people based on unscientific categorizations of race when it is actually defined as "pointing out that the millionaire white mayor of a major city, who is known for making incredibly racist remarks, is in fact a racist." Thanks for correcting me. Fuck off.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (racist!)
If a white person brings up The Cosby Show in a discussion*, they are probably a racist.

True or false?


* In a discussion that is not, say, about 80s sitcoms.

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