Hijacked! Occupy Vancouver 1.0 no longer belongs to the 99%…


One month ago today I was sitting at the same place writing Activists & Buggy Whips, a paper that came out of the frustration of how the many people organizing Occupy Vancouver had refused to use the word ‘denounce’ in reference to violence. I was confounded at the time, had no idea why this simple idea was such a struggle to get consensus on. Had I only known then what I know now…

This all began when someone posted a provocative video on the OV Facebook page on October 10th.  The video was of Harsha Walia, who was viciously defending the concept of ‘Diversity of Tactics’- an ambiguous mix of violent & non-violent methods of protest. D0T could include anything from holding a flash-mob dancing on the sidewalk, to smashing the windows of a bank. As a person who is 110% anti-violence (it never solves anything), I felt the imperative to get clarity on this issue.

So, as I mentioned in the linked  paper, I went through days of abuse and attacks as a result. It was ugly, people were telling me that I was a typical ‘white male’ and I should ‘check my privlege’ and shut-up. This went on for days- curiously, this is the same method of attack that Harsha used against the man she was debating against- and the audience actually clapped in her support!

Yes, you heard that correctly- she was defending violence, and used a man’s race & gender as a tool to squash his political opinion. A lot of you are probably realizing that this is not only wrong, but it is actually a crime to do so! Unbelievable she would take this tactic- but that’s the problem, DoT gives one carte blanche to do whatever it takes to get acceptance for one’s point-of-view. Rather unaceptable if you ask me…

The harassment continued until three days later- and my gender/race were used against me ad-nauseam.  This continued until I pointed-out it was illegal to use gender & race to discriminate against someone’s political opinion. Suddenly, the attacks ended. And, Harsha wrote a nice paper that softened her position. But, her paper was still somewhat ambiguous, saying:

” These gatherings have been explicitly nonviolent from the start and in hundreds of cities across the continent. Obviously this is the right tactic for this moment.”

By this point I was exhausted- the attacks had become so harsh, and so pointed towards me, that at one point they had sent me to tears. Having grown-up in a feminist-led household, I’m quite a sensitive guy, and it seriously hurt to be called a racist and sexist- it simply just isn’t who I am. So, I mistakenly accepted the ambiguity and decided to move on.

From there, I began to  introduce the idea that OV needed a code-of-conduct. Initially I recommended what we referred to as the Eight Rules– a precursor to what later became OWS8 in New York. This turned into another argument- this time, confirming the truth behind Godwin’s Law. The final argument was that had the Jews had not acted 100% non-violent, they would have perhaps not faced the Holocaust. This really was pushing things a bit too far…

Sunday, November 6th, was a tumultuous day for OV. The troubles began early in the afternoon when a number of people appeared wearing all-black, balaclavas, and some carrying large black flags (see the picture above). Curiously, it was this day that I first saw Harsha since the planning meeting…

Later that evening I watched the General Assembly over the Livestream- this was shortly after the incident with the #SacredProvocation.  It was bizarre- first, it was more efficient than any GA I’ve seen. They slammed-through a large number of amendments, including one to pay $300 per week for wood for the fire! And, I believe, they voted to give $50 p/day to the new First Nations people who joined us.  It was obvious to most that the movement had been hijacked!

The next day, I got into a conversation with one of the police officers who has been assigned to OV. I had got to know him due to an issue where an outsider was making threats to ‘de-occupy’ OV, and was identified trying to recruit others through Twitter. We spoke about the threat, and how it had seemed to disappear- then, the conversation turned to what happened that evening. He said that the VPD were aware that a “highly organised and potentially violent” group had hijacked OV. He said the police are watching them very carefully. I’d already suspected this, but the cop said this independently without my mentioning the problem.

I now have no doubt our concerns about being hijacked are true- but, the details of who and why are still foggy to most of us. But, it is not a big secret- the fact that the GA voted to pay for the #SacredProvocation says it all. The only thing worse than to start a fire would be to attack the police. And, the people in black costumes began doing that on that Sunday also- before they were asked to stop…

So, once I had confirmation from the police (from an officer who has told me straight-out he is a member of the 99%) , I took the next step and asked Harsha to confirm or deny if she had a connection to the ninjas.

I was told that she is a “good person” who works hard for the DTES, and doesn’t deserve to be questioned like this. But, all I asked was to confirm the ambiguity of her last statement- not a lot to ask really, considering she appeared on the same day as the people in costumes. Not much to ask because of her video, and not much to ask considering she was talking with a couple of them. But, was I ever wrong…

People who were friendly towards me told me to stop- that it was not allowable for me to ask her confirmation she is still against violence “at this moment”. I was publicly called insane, someone contacted a family member and repeated that message. It became obvious who was for and who was against my questions.

This issue was discussed on the Facebook page for about a day and a half. Then, just when it looked like she had no choice but to give an answer- zap, the thread had disappeared. Someone erased it.

Now, we are one month into the occupation, and we still don’t have a code-of-conduct, and the ethos behind our movement has been thrown to the side by a small group who seem hell-bent on ending the movement. There are a couple, faint, lights of hope- but, it looks likely that Occupy Vancouver 1.0 is just about over. We’ll see what happens in court tomorrow…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.genuinewitty.com/2011/11/14/occupy-1-0-is-hijacked/

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