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There Are Cops on Your Facebook (yes, even in Hamilton) — “Sam Brown” is one of them

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This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Police have a long history of creating and using fake social media accounts to track people, pages and events. The kicker? You don’t have to be masking up at demos or occupying oil facilities to earn their attentions. Just as much as they’ll lay charges if the opportunity presents itself, police exist on social media to glean more subtle information from political dissidents of all stripes and their pals – things like our personal networks, politics, current gossip, and moods.

With this information, police can more easily work out who’s organizing, who their friends and families are, and possibly even things like who to approach as an informant or where to place or start undercovers – on top of a slew of other things.

In other words: police are on there to capture the very essence of facebook, and their presence puts all of us at risk. No exceptions.

Now let’s talk specifics. Or one specific. (Continued)

Facing the Counter-Revolution: A review of Burning Country, by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami

“In 2011 and 2012, Syrians launched a popular revolution of enormous consequence and reach. New forms of organisation and expression emerged which reconfigured social relationships away from those based on hierarchy and domination towards the empowerment of individuals and communities. From 2013 on, however, these experiments were increasingly submerged by fierce counter-revolutionary trends, both Assadist and regional. War dismantled the country’s infrastructure and social fabric. Over half the population fled its homes. What does this mean for revolution as a desired end?” (219)

Anti-authoritarians Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab look back over the past fifteen years of resistance movements in Syria, to understand the anarchistic currents that emerged during the revolution that began in 2011. Altough this revolution has gone farther than any other in recent memory, it is poorly understand and has received little support. With Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War, the authors seek to change that.

As they explain in the introduction, their goal is to increase our understanding of the Syrian revolution to encourage practical solidarity. They also draw many general conclusions about revolution, struggle, violence, organization, and authority that will be valuable to radicals in the Middle East and around the world in the rapidly changing terrain of the 21st century. (Continued)

Seven Years Against Prison

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New years in Southern Ontario wouldn’t be complete without a festive expression of our rage against prisons and the world which requires them. For the seventh year running, we brought the party to several local insitutions of control and isolation, in order to show those trapped inside for the holidays that they aren’t alone.

Traduction vers le français par La Solide

The first prison we visited was the Toronto South Detention Center, a newer prison located in Mimico which is still mostly empty. About 30 people came out from six cities in the area and created a huge ruckus with giant fireworks and a marching band. It was our first visit to Mimico and there was no response from police or prison officials, although there was a very enthusiastic response from those inside.

Our next stop was Barton, the local Jail in Hamilton and the site of new-years demos for the past seven years. Eighty or ninety people contributed to a fun and rowdy atmosphere outside the prison, and those stuck inside responded in kind. Participants shot off more giant fireworks, banged on drums, launched a small arsenal of paint bombs on three sides of the building (including the front door) and, when the paint bombs ran out, started chucking chunks of ice toward the surveillance cameras. Masked individuals also spray-painted ‘H(A)PPY NEW YEARS’, ‘BL(A)CK DECEMBER’, and other tags against prisons both on the sides of the jail and on nearby buildings where the messages are visible to those inside. Again, there was almost no response from police. (Continued)

Five Questions for the Climate Movement

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Page 1/2 of a printable version of the leaflet. It’s laid out to be half a letter-size sheet printed on both sides and folded in half.

Text from a leaflet distributed at the Hamilton2Paris Climate rally in Hamilton, Ontario. The H2P rally was organized by a coalition of local organizations who invited others to form their own contingents.

Against Capitalism — For Community Autonomy!

As an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial contingent in the Hamilton2Paris climate march, we believe the issue of environmental devastation is about so much more than carbon emissions and that the best responses to it will never come from the rich and powerful. The business and political classes have always benefited from this destruction and if they now claim to care about the environment, it’s because they need to do so to pacify us and preserve their privilege.

Although it is a victory of sorts that so many powerful people now take climate change seriously, we can’t afford to let this become another chance for them to manage and control our lives and those of people around the world. We want to remember the histories of resistance of all those who have been resisting for hundreds of years in defense of the land. These are the voices we honour and celebrate!

As the reality of climate change gains more acceptance, the nature of the struggle changes. We want to offer five questions to the climate movement for us to ask ourselves as the fight moves into a new phase. (Continued)

A Certain Discomfort: Of Anarchist Solidarity and Syria

from Anarchist News

Even as Rojava captures the imaginations of anarchists, with many groups and individuals around the world engaged in active support of the Kurdish-lead libertarian experiment, there remains a profound ambivalence among anarchists towards the struggles in the rest of the country formerly known as Syria. On the one hand, some radicals seek to identify and support grassroots initiatives, popular armed formations, or resistance movements in exile that have a liberatory character; on the other, some see the Syrian Revolution as nothing more than yet another imperialist coup being lead by armed religious fascists with nothing worth supporting. Between those two poles, the huge majority of anarchists (and others who care about international revolutions) consider the conflict too complex and murky to come to any conclusions.

To be clear, I’m writing as one of those who sees a lot of liberatory potential in the Syrian Revolution, who has tried to follow it and hear the voices of organizers on the ground even as their work has been overshadowed by authoritarian armed groups, and who has tried to do some minor acts of solidarity by translating and writing articles. It’s quite striking that many who support the Rojavan revolution so fervently are unwilling to extend their interest to the rest of Syria, where the huge majority of the country’s 20+ million inhabitants live(d). Some have explained this by the absence of a cohesive political project under the dictatorship – unlike in the Kurdish regions, where the PKK was able to organize during its transition to libertarian municipalism, the repression was such that there were no organized parties and only a few clandestine networks of dissenters.

(Continued)

Support for Refugees means support for Assad? Confronting the pro-Assad left in Hamilton

On Saturday September 5th in Hamilton, at the Refugees Welcome rally organized by Sanctuary Hamilton, one of the speakers decided to use the opportunity to put forward his views in support of Syria’s Assad regime. Dismissing the millions of people who have participated in the Syrian revolution, from Aleppo to Rojava and from Zabadani to Raqqa, as “the so-called Syrian rebels” (the scare quotes are his), he went on to call for Canada to end its sanctions against the Assad regime and to re-establish diplomatic relations as ways of addressing the desparate situation of many refugees.

I think it’s important to respond to this for two reasons. Firstly, because it was totally innapropriate to inject that message into a non-sectarian rally calling on the federal government to do more for Syrian (and other) refugees. He was effectively blaming the Syrian people for their own displacement by labelling the movement against Assad the source of the problem. But more importantly, support for the Assad regime in leftist spaces is unfortunately not a marginal position. It often hides behind anti-war or anti-imperialist rhetoric, but there is a pro-fascist current within the left. With a blend of cherry-picking, conspiracy theories, and knee-jerk “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” reasoning, it’s possible to give speeches in support of this dictatorship, one that has killed over 200 000 Syrian people in the past four years (1), even while evoking the names of refugees who died while fleeing the regime’s violence (2). (Continued)

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Now that it’s undeniable: Gentrification in Hamilton 2015

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Excerpts from the essay on an 11×17 poster for sticking up around town

This text is available as an imposed booklet pdf for easy printing

Introduction

For the past several years, we’ve been talking quite a lot about gentrification here in Hamilton. In the current moment, as the vanguard of art galleries decisively give way to boutique shops and condos, as sections of town are repurposed into bedroom communities for people who work in Toronto but can’t afford to live there, what do we mean when we talk about gentrification? Two years ago, even the arts industry fucks could claim, without feeling too dishonest, that they were creating something local and durable. Now we watch their flagship galleries and favourite restaurants close while a Starbucks and McMaster satellite campus open in Jackson Square, with condos going up on all sides. You were the footsoldiers of gentrification – don’t say we didn’t warn you.

What is the relationship between gentrification, culture, and development? How do issues of transit, climate change, and population growth enter in? How does an anarchist approach to these issues go beyond the good progressive urbanist line of rent control, land trusts, free transit, and affordable housing? In this context, can we imagine an urban space worth fighting for, or is it, like our friends write in Salto, that “the urban horror … is so engrained that in order to reclaim the city as a project to nourish free lives, we would have to destroy it down to the last stone.”1 (Continued)

Another Spectacle and Broken Solidarity: Why we’re staying home July 5th

Another Spectacle and Broken Solidarity: Why we’re staying home July 5th

This weekend, a protest initiated by an international Big Green NGO, 350.org, is being held in the lead up to the Pan-Am climate summit in Toronto. This Jobs Justice Climate march is yet another attempt by Big Green NGOs and labour unions to draw on the strength of the grassroots environmental movement in this area to serve their own interests, channeling our energy into appeals to powerful people who we know aren’t part of the solution. They are hijacking local resources to build their own fundraising opportunity, while turning us towards the most pacified forms of opposition.

In this case though, this hijacking is being done in the middle of a massive security deployment – the Pan-Am games come with the largest policing operation in this area since the G20. It is in fact the same policing structure – a Joint Intelligence Group, or JIG. Organizers from 350.org are explicitly breaking solidarity by insisting participants reject ‘harm to property’, and they have no plan in place to support anyone who might become a target of police violence. 350.org is going to use our movements as a pretext to raise yet more money for themselves, asking us to step into the jaws of the Pan-Am JIG while making it clear we’re on our own should we come under attack. This arrogant and parasitic behaviour is totally out of step with how grassroots campaigns in Ontario understand diversity of tactics and solidarity. We’ve built our collective strength over years and decades – why should we accept an outside group coming in to undermine it?

This letter is written by a small group of people who have been active in the campaign against Line 9 and who believe our local movements don’t stand to benefit from this climate summit march. This letter is an attempt to explain our opposition to this event in more detail.
(Continued)

Pushing back: Hamilton in March

The past month in Hamilton saw two communique-worthy events without communiques. We celebrated March 15th day of action against brutality in the middle of the Juno awards ceremony and our buddy who was getting railroaded into a jail sentence got off after a crowd of supporters pressured the court.

For the second year in a row, a crowd of angry, largely masked folks gathered on March 15th for a confrontational march against the police and the daily violence they inflict on us. By coincidence, the march started at the same time as the Juno awards, a big stupid spectacle celebrating canadian musicians, were also starting in downtown hamilton. With banners reading “Free donuts! Just kidding, fuck you pig”, “All Cops are Bastards, Fuck the Police”, and “Cops Pigs Murderers”, the march was a bit smaller than last year but higher energy, way tighter, and anchored by Hamilton’s Flamingo Mutiny Brigade, a radical marching band. More than twenty people joined in off the street as the march progressed, pushing through police lines into the heart of the awards ceremony area. The march dispersed without incident while energy was still high and no one got arrested.

On Friday March 20th, a friend of ours who was getting pushed into a fifteen-day jail sentence for a made-up breach of bail showed up at the Hamilton courthouse ready to go do time. The situation of her charges is described in more detail in this open letter, but she’s an anarchist involved in anti-pipeline actions in the area who has regularly been targeted by police over the past years. Forty people showed up to support her, which seemingly caused the duty council and the crown to take a serious second look at what they were doing. Anarchists in town have an extremely conflictual relationship with the justice system, notably in fall 2013 when, during another mass court support day, a crew of people attempted to de-arrest one of their friends and started a hilarious brawl.  In the end, rather than going to jail, which she’d arrived ready to do, our friend got her charges dropped and went home free.

In other Hamilton news, The Tower, our local anarchist social space, is having a spring fundraiser.

Consider this a challenge to anarchists in other cities to let the rest of us know what you’re up to!