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Initially, I wasn’t going to discuss the Amanda Todd story. With all of the attacks I’ve received from people, and slanderous statements published about me- I was concerned writing about bullying right now would bring some of my previous attackers back for another round. It can be brutal sometimes.
So I’ve waited for a few days, read a few different stories, and finally watched the video today. I couldn’t help but feel tears while watching. It was so sad to see a young person to go like that- and, equally, it reminded me of my own personal experiences. Then I read Alex Tsakumis’ piece on how some bullies used Todd’s tragic story to take a political attack against him. I recognized one of his bullies- I’ve watched her at work and have written about some of her more recent attacks- they were vitriol, and as if they were designed to hurt.
I experienced some bullying as a kid- once it got to the point where someone smashed the wheel of my bike. I had a bullying boss before who messed with people’s minds. I also participated in the Occupy movement.
The primary idea of the movement was that people would come together and work on solutions for how to deal with the problem of our banking system and government. Unfortunately, groups of well-organized ‘professional protesters” came to bend the agenda in a different direction. Most of them had another commonality- they were all willing to “respect other’s diversity of tactics“.
They believe (among other things) that it’s unacceptable to question other’s use of violence. In short, pure insanity.
Min Reyes was the first person to express there was a problem with diversity of tactics. Occupy was founded as a non-violent group, but some people were trying to redefine the meaning of violence. They made arguments that events like the Toronto G20 and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics weren’t violent because they were only property damage.
Most Canadians disagree with that… (Except many Habs & Canucks fans)
I saw what happened to Min when she spoke-out. She was attacked from all sides, bad things were said- someone said she was a privileged white male. I joined in on the conversation and got hammered for it. Suddenly I was a racist, sexist, neo-con, misogynist, and someone who worked for the government, police and the Koch Brothers. Anything I would say or write would have that response from legions of anonymous (and sometimes not) accounts.
The debate was over a video of Harsha Walia (a leader in Vancouver’s anarcho-communist scene) arguing that the Back Bloc actions at the Olympics were a heroic act. She claimed that it was courageous how they “de-arrest our colleagues”, a tactic that Ontario anarchist leader Alex Hundret is doing time in jail for after training people how to “de-arrest” before the G20. In the video, Walia actually implies that the person she is debating shouldn’t question her on the basis that she’s a woman of colour.
The topic was about waging violence, and it had nothing to do with gender or race. Cheap tricks occurred like this throughout the Occupy movement. People who spoke-out against actions of the established activists and the unions would often get clobbered. Reye’s experience being called a “privileged white male’ says it all- their first mistake was deciding on her gender and race. These people are on auto-pilot, and they’re all apparently working from the same script.
The debate about Harsha Walia’s support of the Black Bloc became quite heated in the days leading up to the encampment. Dirty games persisted, and groups of people hovered over others and pressured them to play along. Occupy was founded on non-violence, and only about 10-20% of the people in Vancouver actually supported the use of violence.
In the end there was a truce of sorts. Walia published a paper on Rabble.ca where she wrote:
“As G20 defendant Alex Hundert, who has written extensively about diversity of tactics, told me, “It is important to recognise that a belief in supporting a diversity of tactics means not ruling out intentionally peaceful means. 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.””
It was a half-way answer, it wasn’t perfect, but I (and others) decided to accept it, but to keep a close watch on the use of violent and/or destructive acts. The conversation about Harsha died down then- that is, until the first day she showed-up at Occupy (which was coincidentally the first day people appeared with black flags, hoodies and masks.) That day, a cop got hit in the face with a flagpole in an unnecessary (and damaging) incident.
So, I went to David Eby. He had publicly criticised the Black Bloc in the past, and he was involved with Occupy – he seemed to be a good person to approach. This turned out to probably be the worst mistake I made- I didn’t understand how deep Eby’s connections ran with Vancouver’s anarchist community, nor how hard they would punish me for trying to get Eby to help.
A man had a serious drug serious overdose in the camp- luckily he was saved. This was followed by a day of debate, those who disagreed with allowing the use of drugs (a “harm risk” approach, but without a safety net). Many of us who debated against this strategy were labelled bigots, neo-cons and racists.
I’d written to, and called, Mayor Gregor Robertson before the death- asking him to help prevent what inevitably would happen. I had also engaged INSITE, a needle exchange clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. They agreed to provide outreach to the addicts- but they never fulfilled on their promise.
The day after that, a young girl very tragically died.
By the start of December I’d done a lot of research on Vancouver’s anarchist community. One of the more shocking things I learned was how many prominent people either tolerate, help, or participate in projects with people who support violence. This group includes politicians, union leaders, lawyers, university professors, and powerful NGO’s. I decided to the focus of my writing there- rather than talk about Harsha Walia and the Black Bloc
Eby had tried to brush me off, so I began researching, and learning more about the Anarchists and his connections to them. I discovered a bombshell- according to numerous (good) sources, Eby withdrew his organization’s legal observers from the Black Bloc march at the Olympics only hours before the windows started getting smashed.
As soon as I began to write about Eby, the attacks on me ramped-up. One person, Lorraine Murphy (a.k.a. Raincoaster) took a lot of attacks at me. She also explained how Eby had done so many ‘great’ things (but neglected to list them). She said that Eby is a hero and should be left alone- but, not everyone agreed with her:
Shortly after she began threatening me. Then, on December 11th she made a very ominous statement:
Eight days later, there was a website created specifically with the purpose of destroying my reputation. The site labelled me as a stalker, it had the names of several people attached to it, so I began to speak with them. Some told me that they were pressured to allow their names on it, the majority are people who supported the use of violence. The site was published anonymously, and the only way I will be able to know who did it will be through a court order.
It was only a few days before Christmas- the anarchists gave me a gift that is effecting my ability to find work to this day…
I spoke to some of the people on the list, they told me that they decided to put their names on it because of a document that was being shared:
If you look at the title of the document it’s labelled “Greg Renouf Public Twitter Messages Sent to Harsha Walia.” There’s a problem with the document- first, it includes conversations with other people who were also communicating with Harsha Walia- Gary Mason of the Globe & Mail, Occupy Police, Roseanne Barr, and Derrick O’Keefe (the man who Harsha debated after the violence at the Olympics.)
The document only includes the messages from me in these threads, there were about 150 of them, including the other people’s comments, there would have been at least 800. The document was a setup, many of the people who put their name on the website were tricked into it. Some people want their names off, but we can’t identify who runs the site.
Rabble.ca had a copy of the content from this website on their site. I wrote to their editor, explaining how the content was not true, and is causing me harm- I asked them to remove it. After a back-and-forth, the editor decided to remove it, but not before calling me every bad name under the sun. This is the first of two times I’d find slanderous lies written about me on Rabble.
I decided to go to Cortes Island for the next couple of months- to get away from all of the bad energy of Vancouver and recharge. I mentioned I was going there and Lauren Gill, an associate of Harsha Walia’s made the threat that she was going to write a letter about me to people on the island.
When I arrived on Cortes, some of the people around me were acting rather strangely. Three days later I learned that a letter had been sent to people across the island. The letter said that I was dangerous and mentally ill. I did my best to enjoy my time on Cortes, but this bullying attack had a serious impact. I had a meeting scheduled with the chief of a local indigenous nation, he cancelled.
Cortes obviously wasn’t far away enough- so, I decided to go east to Toronto. Shortly before I left, I got in-contact with Judy Rebick, she had been critical about the Black Bloc at the G20, and I had heard she was rather influential with people at Occupy Toronto. Rebick denied knowing there was any issue at Occupy, and she sent me to take with David Eby.
I went to an Occupy Toronto meeting to see what was happening here. The next meeting I was accosted by Dave Vasey who asked me to leave and began to spread rumours that I was a stalker, misogynist, and racist. He told a lie that I was ‘banned’ from Occupy Vancouver- nobody ever was. When I asked him why he said this, he produced the website against me and acknowledged that Walia was his friend.
For the next few weeks I was subject to many vicious lies being circulated about me. It was during this time that Doug Hattem interjected, offering his assistance in sorting out the problem. It turned-out that Doug was only trying to make it look like he wanted to help- instead, when we met, he began taking vicious attacks at me. Then, he announced online that he had created a 11 page document about me.
The problem is that this document was never circulated. Hattem kept referring to it as a way to hurt my reputation. Min Reyes asked him for a copy of the document at one point and he refused. Everyone else who has asked for a copy was also refused.
A discussion was to be held at an Occupy Toronto about the allegations, I was going to be given the opportunity to address the allegations against me. Instead, when I got there, Alex Hundret and two other thugs blocked me from entering.
Rabble.ca writer, Krystalline Kraus stood-up at that meeting and told people that I sexually harassed her online. She told Occupiers that if I wasn’t voted out of the organization that the established activists would simply get-up and leave. She told the Occupiers that she may be pressing charges. She didn’t, everything she said was made-up, and she refused to show me the evidence she said she had. It was the same tactic as Hattem’s.
I was voted out of Occupy Toronto. And, at the end of the evening, one of Alex Hundert’s associates physically assaulted me. I never had the opportunity to defend myself, and some people who were present and voted said that they had received threats of physical retaliation if they hadn’t.
Many people walked-out on Occupy Toronto at that point. They could see the hypocrisy of the people who were bullying me and didn’t want anything to do with the organization. The people who ran the attacks on me then announced a special GA to discuss changes to Occupy Toronto’s rules, and to start a new format.
At the first new GA, despite having already been banned once, the people who were bullying me focussed the whole meeting on banning me again. It was bizarre, and my aggressors were telling outright lies about me. Sakura Saunders stood-up and told outright lies about me. She said that I was stalking her, taking her pictures, and that I was writing things about her. I’d never been in the same place as her – ever – and, I’d never written a word about her. The whole thing was bizarre.
Then, Alex Hundert put-up a website attacking me. The site was about me, with a couple of articles about neo-nazis he used to try and create the illusion I was associated with. The site made outright lies about me, calling me racist, & misogynist- there was no evidence provided behind these claims.
Rabble.ca then published a radio show about me- the show was run by Hundert’s anarchist group [email protected] It announced that I was a racist, misogynist person- no punches were pulled. Again I asked Rabble to make a retraction. They removed the article but published no apologies.
This site comes-up early in the list when you Google my name. It has made it very hard for me to find employment- potential employers read it and run-away.
The attacks on me came to a peak in June, when I was violently assaulted by some members of Occupy Toronto. I got bashed in the head (and other places) with a flagpole that night. I ended up going to the hospital and had staples put in my head. All of the months of bullying gave the people who attacked me the feeling it was okay to do so.
Links for the two websites made against me are constantly being used by people to discredit and silence me. Each time I meet a new person, I often have to explain the story of how I was attacked. Amanda Todd got one thing right in her message to the world- once something is out on the Internet, it is hard to take it back.
As a victim of intense bullying, I fully back the movement to create anti-bullying laws in Canada.That said, we need to be very careful writing them. There needs to be a distinction between reporting on the truth, and taking vicious attacks. This law must not be something that can be used to stifle the media, or to stop people from telling the truth.
Done right, anti-bullying laws can do a lot of good, and can stop people from having to go through such horrors. But, done poorly, they could end-up hurting our democracy. But, something definitely needs to be done…