I’m still astounded how NOW allowed No One Is Illegal (NoII) to be on their Best Of Toronto poll. The more I think about it, the I’m concerned about NOW- would they really promote an organization like NoII or are they really that naïve?
Either way, I feel I’ve lost a bit of respect for NOW. At the best case, they didn’t fully understand who they were endorsing with they allowed such an endearing write-up about NoII. At the worst-case, is NOW part of a larger agenda- regardless, either way, I’m certain I’ll be checking for other sources after reading their stories.
NoII is an organization that preaches “diversity of tactics”, a gentle way of saying that it’s okay for anarchists to smash windows and get into street-fights with the police. Did you know that the first person to be arrested during the G20 was NoII’s Dave Vasey? He was testing the perimeter of the fences and got caught doing it.
If you want to understand why NoII couldn’t possibly be what most Torontonians think of as the city’s best activist organization, have a quick look at this video where NoII’s senior leaders promote the May Day march:
In the video you will find NoII’s Dave Vasey and Syed Hassan leading a group of anarchists as they block traffic at the Dundas and Yonge Street intersection. In the middle is Darius Mirshahi, doing a self-promotional hip-hop performance. The car’s horns are beeping, the 99% were not impressed. Sadly, it was only the 99% who were inconvenienced- the 1% were left untouched.
Can you see what’s wrong with this?
But, the traffic blocking is nothing compared to some of scarier parts of NoII. First, their leaders support and promote the use of violence. Then there’s the social violence that NoII has applied to scores of their victims- both towards their adversaries and ‘friendly fire’ on their fellow activists.If you don’t toe the line at NoII, you are likely to get slaughtered.
A few months ago someone from Occupy Vancouver wrote a letter about my experience with NoII in Vancouver. The person who wrote it spent a lot of time working alongside them, and knew first-hand about the attacks they took on me there by members of NoII. I’ve published this before- but, in the context of NoII being given the Best of Toronto award by NOW, it may be good to bring it back to people’s attention.
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is on a list. The list is attached to a letter complaining about Greg Ranouf and his campaign to denounce the use of violence within the “occupy” movement while unfortunatly specifically targeting one individual. I fully supported Greg in his relentless campaign to define the “occupy” movement as non-violent. Where Greg and I disagreed was his very vocal pursuit of this individual.
What I didn’t realize was that that Greg was willing to stick his neck out and risk his reputation to challenge anyone that supported the use of violence or law breaking as one of a “diversity of tactics”. Greg was the first and loudest voice in Vancouver calling for a commitment to non-violence.
Let me be clear. I still think Greg went to far in singling out this individual. But that is my opinion. Greg is different then me. I also use a pseudonym on FB for my poitical pursuits where as in others do not. I prefer to engage in online activity with a measure of anonymity while Greg and others do not. Although I personally asked Greg to stand down in his campaign he chose not to. Different strokes. What I didn’t see coming was the tactics and great lengths a GROUP of people representing OccupyVancouver would use to discredit, malign, harass, intimidate and ridicule Greg – some of it arguably criminal in nature.
To give you some context, even after I agreed to sign my name to that letter (a decision I regret) when I questioned the behavior of that group of people I was harassed, “blocked” on FB, telephoned and physically threatened and also shunned by this group of nasty people. In my opinion, the actions of this group of people constituted far worse examples of harassment and intimidation than any actions I am aware of Greg perpetrating.
OccupyVancouver is in ashes due to the insular and cultish behavior of a few of the people on that list. Most people who’s names are attached to that list are decent, well intentioned people that may not have understood the big picture and what was going on beneath the service. Some people attacked Greg for alledgedly being sexist and racist from the beginning of his campaign (of questioning said individual’s connection to Black Bloc) even though not once did Greg frame the conversation in that context. This was the beginning of the diversity of tactics employed by what many in Vancouver refer to as the occucult. When I agreed to attach my name to the letter denouncing Greg it was because I was in spirit denoucing any form of harassment or calling out of people in the movement – something Greg is clearly not afraid to do. Regrettably, I signed that letter not realizing that the people who created that letter were willing to do far worse.
In the aftermath of Greg’s “banishment” many others were subjected to similar abuse by the same people that claim to desire a safe environment free of oppression. In Vancouver, some of those hiding under the banner of anti-oppression are the most abusive, nasty, and dishonest people I have ever had the misfortune of attempting to work with – all under the pretext of the common good. If I or anyone else where to draft a similar letter naming names of some of these “occucult / anti-oppression” individuals and dencouncing their behavior I am quite sure the list of supporters would be much longer. Many, many people left the movement because of the hegemony and attitude of this insular group. Thankfully, some of us have managed to organize outside of the GAs and “spokes councils” and have retained valuable friendships and unpaid workng relationships. It saddens me deeply that this is currently the fate of OccupyVancouver. Many of us still cling to the hope that there will be a resurgence of energy and collaberation. I and others in Metro Vancouver are still trying to challenge this corrupt system for a better world, but we have been severly hindered by this percieved “occucult” and their tactics of exclusion. What many individuals within the movement did not realize that well organized sub groups of people attempted to subvert the “occupy” movement for their own means.
Petty, ego driven and damged individuals sought the reigns of a leaderless movement and shattered a window of oppurtunity to build momentum with the public at large. I also, sadly, have the skinny on why big labour distanced itself from OV and it is due to the very same people. I realize that without details or proof it is just words on a screen (or a sheet of paper) so perhaps even mentioning this is pointless; it is however the truth. There are many other details I am tempted to disclose but I decline because it is completely counter -productive to our movement towards social change. OV may be fucked right now but hopefully, good, honest people can rise from it’s ashes and direct the struggle at it’s entended foes. Peace & Respect.