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Alex Hundert: Out of Jail

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Alex Hundert: Out of Jail

Drafted in the Toronto West Detention Centre,  January 19

(Updated on January 26: I was released from jail on January 24)

After nearly five months in jail, I will finally be walking out of the Toronto West Detention Centre having taken a plea bargain with the Crown.

The deal required that I plead guilty to a single count of “breach recognisance” stemming from a single presentation amongst many presentations at the September 17 event at Ryerson University titled “Strengthening Our Resolve: Movement Building and Ongoing Resistance to the G20 Agenda".

The plea was in exchange for having the breach of bail coming from an almost identical event at Wilfrid Laurier University dropped, along with two counts of breaching my probation (which is left over from an older charge in Cayuga resulting from a blockade in Cayuga) dropped. They have also stopped the proceedings to collect a hundred and twenty thousand dollars from my sureties. More importantly, I finally got a new bail, including being able to post to the internet, having no curfew, and being able to leave the house with designates. This allows me to once again be a contributing member of my community and to the movements I am a part of.

Some people will be quick to judge this as a “sell out,” as exchanging a platform to fight for a potentially meaningful victory in court for my personal freedom. That possibility has haunted me. But I do sincerely believe that position to be a hasty and narrow judgement.

As it stood, I found out that my trial date for the breach was moved from January 31 to March. Regardless of the outcome of the breach trial, I would still not be released until a separate bail hearing to be held in April at the earliest. At that point, I would have been in jail for over seven months with no reasonable prospects of even being released on bail given the pending allegations of “intimidation of a justice participant” and the original conspiracy charges.

To remain behind bars would have been the obvious choice, even if a hard decision. Previously in October, I had made the decision to refuse my bail which included a media gag and punitive non associations. Staying in jail this time around would also have been relatively easy because I had been doing just fine in there. But at the same time, I was a serious drain on those who have done such wonders in supporting me, helping me stay strong and to feel connected to community. Incarceration is a weapon designed to affect the communities that people are a part of; to suck resources, energy and emotion out of them and not just the individuals held in dungeons.

And while being willing to sacrifice oneself might be noble in theory and sometimes the only right decision to make, in this circumstance I feel it is far more important to be in my community, contributing, giving back, fulfilling my responsibilities. This is who I want to be in the movement right now—a participant, not a symbol.

And what would the point even have been, if I had sat in the cage until after we were able to get our victory in court? The truth is, the only point that can ever be proven in a court is that the courts are a legitimate source of authority in our lives. I would like to deny them that power.

We could have fought them, on their own battle ground, and tried to establish that the OPP’s and the Crown’s position that what took place on the Ryerson and WLU campuses did not constitute “public demonstrations.” I’ve had a long time to think about it, and I realised that I don’t really care how panel discussions are classified by the courts. What I care about is that we are able to defend the spaces in which those free discussions take place and that we do not depend on the state to provide them for us. That defence happens every day, with our unity in the streets, and in those spaces themselves, not in a courtroom.

And if we had won the trial it would merely have established that I had not breached my bail conditions on those particular days. It would not establish that the cops and the Crown would never be able to treat another campus-based discussion as a “public demonstration.”  The fight is not whether a panel discussion is a public demonstration, the fight is over the existence of such a bail condition itself and it will hopefully be found “unconstitutional” as a result of a challenge that has been put forward by one of my coaccused.

For those who do prioritise such legal victories, I actually think that we have come closer to establishing that such discussions are not to be legally defined as demonstrations than we would have by winning at trial. The charges for the Laurier event were dropped, and I only plead guilty for one part of the event at Ryerson as contravening my bail condition not to participate in a public demonstration.

In the statement of facts agreed upon at court during the plea hearing, what was specifically defined as constituting a breach was just a single presentation by three Indigenous women at Ryerson. They used props, and the opening line included the statement, “I am not here today as a panellist.” In such a twisted world that wants to hold people in jails and put on shows in courtrooms to argue over such semantics, I can accept that such a presentation, in a room full of nearly three hundred people, might need to constitute a “public demonstration.”  Nothing in my plea suggests that there was anything “unlawful” about that presentation, just that under this regime, it counts as a “public demonstration.”

I would like to add though, that I whole-heartedly support every word that those women had to say that night. The content was both poignant and necessary, and also perfectly in line with panel discussions. By no means in itself did the content of the presentation constitute a public demonstration. It was not the Indigenous language, nor the possession of traditional eagle feathers; it was merely the use of plastic handcuffs as props. These props served to demonstrate the ways in which Indigenous people’s participation in academic, activist, and broader society has been handcuffed by racist and colonial practices and structures. Also far too often, Indigenous people find themselves in literal handcuffs as a result of the patterns in this legal system, especially pre-trial incarcerations, over-prosecutions, and unjust convictions. I thank those women for making that presentation that night, and if it makes me “guilty,” again, so be it. Nyaweh, miigwetch to them.

I would like to write a new narrative, one other than the tired and damaging narrative of martyrdom whereby one isolated person sits in a jail cell becoming a symbol against injustice. We need to tell a new story—one that does not insist on suffering from those committed to our movements.  While this is often necessary, we also need a discourse that speaks to us about commitment as meaning that we are actually part of the daily struggles that strive to build communities and networks that can sustain our visions for better lives and for spaces where real freedom and safety are possible. This is the type of story that I want to be telling.

I don’t think that people should be any less outraged now that I am out of jail. The injustice of the system has been laid bare again like so many times before. It is the inherent functioning of an explicitly oppressive system that is designed to perpetuate power and propagate its own order, especially against targeted communities including Indigenous people, people of colour, poor people, queer and trans people. This system cannot be vindicated by courtroom victories. Be outraged and let’s struggle on our own terms.


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alex hundert (alex hundert)
kitchener-waterloo
Member since December 2009

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Comments

Police State Watch

 

Alex,

Good to hear you are out on the streets again. I wasn't even aware that anyone was still being held until just before Christmas, and didn't know that you in particular were being held until after I'd launched Police State Watch.

And yes, you have a page at Police State Watch.

Wayne aka The Mad Hatter

 

strength...

Hey Alex,

first welcome back to the world.

Second, no need to be apologetic about getting yourself out. Anyone who criticizes you for it is most likely doing from the outside-- and have no idea what it was like for you to go through what you have. Your decisions about your life and freedom are yours-- period, full stop.

 

yftr

Macdonald

 

Glad that you are out.

You are right.   It is not right to turn a human being into a symbol.  You are much better off in the world of the living.   I am very glad that you are free and that you will be able to keep up the fight. 

Andrea 

Glad you are out bro

Now remember what I told ya, take a nice long hot bath.

Hoorah!

Finally brother! I am so glad to hear that you are out! I wish you all the best, and I'm sure I will see you soon!

Do you have any non-association?

Welcome participant!

Alex, I support your decision to be "a participant - not a symbol." Battles fought in the state's courts don't need to be the focus of our activism. Too often the use of their courts only serves to validate their fake authority.

Thank you for your choice. -Lacy MacAuley

Alex's Release

Alex,

I was on the same panel you participated in, when you were arrested. I was mortified that they would have done this to you. I have often thought about how unjust and horrible that was, and I am thrilled to know that you are free once again.

As you know, when dealing with these institutions, we are all too often forced to compromise in the short run, to make bigger gains in the longer run.

Thanks a lot for having me on that panel and for allowing me to learn from your courage.

Herman Rosenfeld

 

 

 

Great to hear

Alex, i am looking forward to seeing you again, take care brother!

Great to hear

Alex, i am looking forward to seeing you again, take care brother!

Finally my friend! there has

Finally my friend!

there has been so many ups and downs on this journey, I am glad your on the outside, I believe in the choice you made for yourself and your community, as much as many tried to be there for you, your community needs you.

hope to see you soon!

j-kw-

Happy Freedom Alex

Glad you are out, no regrets bro. Like you sould be sorry for the pernicous scat-flinging cop-bots and their court-room lackeys. No surprise that the took offence to the words of indigenous women, the states been at war with them for centuries yo . peace

Hi Alex

I did actually worry whether pleading guilty to a breach of probation based on attending a panel discussion would set a dangerous precedent.

But I'm pretty sure that a violation of one's Charter rights remains illegal whatever an individual agrees to under duress. I'm glad to see you intend to challenge the whole thing at a later date. And, anyway, I could understand why you would want to get out from under their thumbs and start living and fighting again, so congratulations.

BTW: I'm a cartoonist and I'm thinking about doing a comic book about the whole travesty of the G20. Can you (or anyone at the Toronto Media Co-op) get in contact with me and provide me with some background info?

Thanks,

 

Frank Bedek

Out of Jail

Thanks for standing on guard for thee - your efforts against the injustices of our gov't are appreciated.

Hey brother iam Really glad

Hey brother iam Really glad You Are OUT! I read of the email i got from G20 mobilize on friday on the 5pm show! Also i got the Number and I Will Be calling you in hopes of you coming on my internet radio show , its purely D.I.Y. Your story i have been ranting about for months , i wrote you a reply to your blog entry a few weeks ag and i was hopipng you got it, as you have been an inspiration to me as well as many others i would imagine! Iam In peterborough area now but moving to oshawa to be closer to toronto for protests and be more involved in activist work! I REALLY look forward to networking with you and iam trying to build a internet radio network to bring scenes together in solidarity , for activists/truthers/anarchists/hiphop/punkrock/D.I.Y./Indy-Media Etc , I have your AW@L Banner In My Links section and i would LOVE to talk with you and the People at AW@L About being a mpart of this collective internet radio network (Take The red Pill Radio) So I will try and call you at the number privided in the email and hopefully we can lock down a date to have you on the show and hopefully when ur in the area we could get together for a beer or coffee as i dont drink , but im super stolked your out brother , i hope your enjoying it and relaxed man! yours a inspiration and ANYONE who says you SOLD out hasnt done time and they can suck Nutz!

www.slimswayze.com  5pm mon-fri also iam working on www.slimswayze.yolasite.com check them out and anyone interested in doing internet radio contact me i want activst minded people for this new network a small handfull of people who can trust and work closely with!

Alex, So happy that you are

Alex,

So happy that you are finally out of that Canadian torture chamber!  The struggle continues and we will win!

Lily  

out of jail

Good to hear your out, revolution is coming, all over the world

Hi, Neat post. There is a

Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your site in internet explorer, would test this… IE still is the market leader and a big portion of people will miss your wonderful writing because of this problem.

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