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G20 Toronto: An Exception that Confirmed the Rule

An open letter to friends and compassionate comrades, to their families, colleagues, neighbours and friends, to those who were there and those who weren't, to those who watched and those who chose not to pay attention,

by Unknown


Thanks for calling. Thanks for texting, e-mailing, making sure. Thanks for checking in. These past few days, along with so many other realizations, have forced us to consider our relationships in a much more serious and beautiful way. We were reminded of a few essential things to keep in mind; once more, the pressing need to care for one another made itself clear and undeniable. How we choose to take care of ourselves is by writting you all this letter while the events and wounds are still fresh, hoping it might help those who still don't, to understand the struggle – and those who already do, to begin making sense of its scope and scale.

Before the summit had even begun, houses being raided before dawn brought other homes together by dusk...locked up like in some storm in the barricade of our spaces, we danced we drank, we ate and hugged each other hoping for those who were still on the streets to get here safe before some unmarked car snatched them from their sidewalk. The repression was brazen like a fiction, cinematic, it's hard to explain it any other way, with scenes unfolding like a script. The control was phenomenal (some used the word haunting) and a billion dollars bought more fear for many than safety for most. There is no doubt about it. A billion dollars was also a long-term investment, let it be said, in the promise to maintain levels of fear high and political dissent low long after the G20 is over. When these policies need enforcement against growing discontent, the arsenal will have been tested and ready for use on much larger populations.

But the diverse artillery that was coldly rehearsed during this spectacle-operation goes beyond visible crowd-control methods. The sexual violence performed by the police on the people, for example, was so pervasive that it is hard not to view it as both a tactic and a weapon; rape barely camouflaged as strip searches with policemen's fingers penetrating people's vaginas and anuses like rubber bullets; populations young and old permanently damaged & humiliated by sentences much more terrorizing than L-Rad sound waves; potent tear gas that will last long after protests are silenced. If this is nothing new, this weekend provided a condensed and unabashed demonstration of the daily brutality of state power exertion.

"45. At each moment of its existence, the police reminds the State of the violence, the banality, and the darkness of its beginnings.” (Tiqqun)

By Sunday evening, helicopters still soaring the Toronto sky, it seemed like torontomobilize had become torontotranquilized. We were all worn out under the weight of the heavy sedatives of abuse of power: arbitrary arrests, profiling, targeting, harassment, intimidation, illegal searches, illegal detentions, if the law is ever the measure of morality…and then the countless (I stress this: they will never be counted all) countless accounts of systemic immorality. Hundreds of these arrests and detentions, in legal terms, equate to mass-kidnapping: many never got proper medical attention or a phone call, many more were never even told why they were being held hostage and were released without proof of their disappearance. They must have run out of lies at some point: how many innocent people can you charge with conspiracy before it becomes evident to all who the conspirators actually are?

While hundreds were still locked up in cages, buses filled with mostly young folks left for Montreal and Quebec and elsewhere with photographers like snipers hidden in the bushes, on rooftops, pointing a lens at those they yesterday pointed guns, tazers and batons at, gathering an ever-growing database. May it be clear: what our faces, names and addresses all entered this weekend, this file if anyone bothered to give it a name, is not labelled "possible terrorists" despite what they might say to excuse this 'state of exception'; but rather "overly aware" or "caring and informed" or "rightfully opposed"…

“53. The state of exception is the normal regime of the Law.” (Tiqqun)

Now, days later, the sun is out and we can finally breathe. Cars run on and what was falsly depicted as a war zone this weekend has shamelessly gone back to being the quiet battlefield it has become. The dismantlement of the fence’s evidently oppressive architecture provides the convenient illusion that the exclusionary walls of the state apparatus are temporary rather than inherent. And all bow to the triumphant return of capital’s violent and godly omnipotence. We can recount beautiful moments, incredible support and powerful victories both preceding, during and after the summit, but we leave the city with a certain sense of abandonment, wondering what will become of it after the fog of G20 is lifted from its streets.

We also wake up realizing that we’ve been infiltrated. And although fear is justified and the temptation to distrust is strong, we can not give in: their paranoia, however contagious, must not become ours. We have seen too many, in the matter of days, unravel under sinister suspicions, lose their capacity to tell truth and tale apart, seeing enemies in all unfamiliar faces, feeling followed and watched everywhere they went. While we probably all were, our privacy was a small loss compared to our friends' trust. What better way to dissolve resistance than by ridding it with divisive oppositions and qualms of wariness…We have nothing to hide: informants and undercover cops can proliferate – so long as everyone comes to agree that both our intentions and actions are necessary and laudable – their findings are harmless.

So spread widely: everyone everywhere needs to know, because despite the overwhelming media coverage, they still don't. You had a duty to be there: you were. You had a duty to join in: you stepped up. You had a duty to stay safe and make it home so you could rest for next time: you did. We are now gathering our own database. These stories must not stay in archives waiting to be used as evidence against us; they must not stay in detention centers like surreal films that never make it out of the 629 Eastern road studios where nearly a thousand political prisoners were held. No, they need to get to living rooms and kitchens and parks everywhere. We need to talk. And not just among ourselves, but especially with those who have yet to be convinced.

Because if they weren't convinced by the banners, the chants, the shattering glass, the rhythms and dances on the streets, the coming together, if they aren't already convinced by the oil spill, the unmappable expanse of stolen native land, the tar sands’ screaming absurdity, by the unfathomable waste, by compassionate people outnumbered by armed brutes in our city, by the piling up evidence of injustice and infamy; then perhaps learning that those they love and know to be just Are the protesters; Are the black bloc (if not always literally, symbolically at the very least); Are the anarchists, prisoners, intellectuals, educators, activists, organizers; Are those the real criminals are desperately and unsurprisingly trying to incriminate; perhaps then they will be convinced.

“It’s the privileged feature of radical circumstances that a rigorous application of logic leads to revolution.” (The Invisible Committee)

But we intend to waste no time with public inquiries. Why spend energy further legitimizing an unneeded authority by asking it to improve? No, we will simply and joyfully continue doing all those things most threatening to (because independent of) the state : i.e. cook in collective kitchens, grow our own food, occupy the buildings we’ve long paid off, build tree houses, shop at free stores, open neighbourhood-run bakeries, brew our own booze, take just what we need give all that we can, ride our bikes across cities and continents, have safe sex, wheat-paste poems spread street art, play music on rooftops, read, write, self-publish, invest our reclaimed trust in gift-based economies, make feasts of their waste and treasures of their trash, fly home-made kites, educate ourselves, be good to one another, cross oceans on cargos and train-hop until the rails and ships are run by us; multiply the examples to point to when asked what an anarchist society might look like. And we intend to remember G20 Toronto as the renewed urgency to hope and to organize, not for or against the state – but without it.

À très bientôt, in the streets and everywhere else,

x


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Sunny Doyle (Sonia Doyle)
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Comments

amazing. thanks. much needed

amazing. thanks. much needed affirmation.

This touched my heart

Wow. This speaks so eloquently to what's been going through my own mind since that fateful weekend. I'm so relieved to know I'm not the only one experiencing these thoughts and emotions. Thank you so much!

Unfortunate

"But we intend to waste no time with public inquiries. Why spend energy further legitimizing an unneeded authority by asking it to improve" 

- because it gains more space to struggle. it improves people's lives, even when they are simply extensions of liberal freedoms they can be expanded for greater good - to push the kind of activities you enjoy. Why do you think you "lifestyle" anarchism is the solution for everyone. that is actually elitest.

"We are the people who organize community potlucks, who dance
during street festivals, who make art, defend the land, build co-ops,
bicycles and community gardens.  When we put on our black clothing, we are
not a threat to you, but to the elites.”

It is interesting what political work you do not mention.  you apparently are not among those campaigning to get Canada out of Afghanistan, nor do you claim to being doing anything in response to the Palestinian struggle.

At times some of our more socialist-oriented activists (be us self-described anarchists or 'socialists') may be ritualistic and unimaginative.  But sometimes the only alternative is resignation and inactivity. And our routine work put us in a position to assist the flotilla to Gaza, an initiative that was neither plodding, ritualistic, or unimaginative.

How does the "Black Bloc" intervene on those issues? Why be afraid to stand behind ideas? and that is exactly why winning or maintaining some liberal freedoms in the midst of near-facism is so important. I'd rather die with clear ideas attached to my name than vague politics that simply become tools to justify greater policing powers..

Well said and I agree.

Well said and I agree.

well done sun

It is this powerful inclusivity in resistance which will lead us to undergo change with pleasure and hope. Thanks so much for writing Sun.  I couldn't agree more, and I feel doubly inspired to grow food and go on living with those who want to live free of opression.  much love and support. liz

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