Attacks against OSHA Condo Advertising Billboards

 Comments Off on Attacks against OSHA Condo Advertising Billboards
Jan 262019

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

Last night and the one before, different crews bombarded the colonial-themed advertising billboards for the new condo project OSHA with paint.

The OSHA Condo project is simple: the destruction of Hochelaga. How? With the arrival of more than 200 condo units (selling for between $200 000 for a 2 and a half and more than $500 000 for a 4 and a half). Meaning 300 to 500 more yuppies in our neighborhood, and in a particularly sensitive location home to many of those tossed aside in recent decades by different real estate developments. The arrival of opulence, where misery reigns. Raising the number of cops and patrols, of expensive eco-ethico-responsible-biodegradable stores, of chic restaurants daring to name themselves “Les AffamÉes” (“the starving”) in one of the largest food deserts in Montreal. A social cleansing in every respect.

Adding insult to injury, the owners decided to use an indigenous theme. The billboards’ use of an image of the encounter between peoples reinforces the idea of a peaceful and consensual exchange between colonizers and first peoples. We shatter this image. The Americas were built in violence. Montreal is a city made possible by a genocide. Its modernization rests since its foundation on the exploitation of stolen land. The OSHA condo project is only the latest, most pathetic example.

And you thought we would let you do as you like? The plurality of groups currently organizing against the construction of these condos testifies to the feeling of anger, widely shared in the neighborhood, against this latest offensive of gentrification. In the months to come, the forms of contestation and sabotage will multiply. Despite the advances of gentrifying projects in Hochelaga, an expertise of struggle against them has developed, and there is no doubt we will put it to use.

These attacks are just a first warning
We are many and we are determined
These condos don’t stand a chance

Discover Westmount: An Up-and-Coming Hub of Anarchist Activity

 Comments Off on Discover Westmount: An Up-and-Coming Hub of Anarchist Activity
Oct 282018

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info

When you hear the word “Westmount”, temporary autonomous zones, dumpster barricades, and flaming effigies of Trudeau aren’t exactly what pops to mind. People often think of this drab neighborhood looming over St. Henri as purgatory where the absurdly wealthy listlessly drift between a loveless marriage, resentful children, and a soul-crushing job… But not anymore!

Westmount is undergoing revitalization!

Anarchists are transforming it into a mixed-attack neighborhood that offers many opportunities for comrades of every tendency. In desolate Westmount, there’s an activity for anarchists of any stripe—regardless if your flag flies black, half-red, or purple glitterbomb.

Read Buzzfeed’s list of Five Cool Facts You Didn’t Know About Westmount (or, as we like to call it: Nouvelle-Exarchia)

1) Every other home is empty.

While most of those South of Maisonneuve can’t afford their rising rent–let alone buy a home—the tyrannical trillionaires of Westmount can own 2, 3, and sometimes 4 properties! They may be property owners, but not necessarily residents. Perfectly good houses are just sitting there, with empty bedrooms—and stocked fridges! It’s the cheapest Air BnB in the city-breakfast included! Think about it: Second home or…Squatted Social Centre?

2) Westmount pigs are literally the same as Montreal Pigs.

The Scumbag Protectors of the Very Moneyed (S.P.V.M) aren’t good enough for the affluent assholes of Westmount – these burdensome billionaires have –get this– brought in their very own smarmy army.

The only difference is that they aren’t in full-body armour—their soft, supple skin is vulnerable to the many elements (and projectiles). The way we see it: Two Birds; One Molotov.

3) It’s full of artisinale barricade material.

Have you ever been in a rowdy street party and the police just aren’t taking the many “hints” that their invitation wasn’t simply “lost in the mail”? You run to grab a newspaper box, only to realize it’s been bolted to the ground! You look around, but you are bereft of barricade material! This would never happen in Revolutionary Westmount!™ Here, the streets are peppered with grade-A barricade material, and all of it free for the taking. Newspaper Boxes, Dumpsters, and Patio Furniture—Oh my!

4) The walls are a primed canvas.

Did you know that these wealthy whiners haven’t yet heard of public art? It’s true! The many beautiful, blank walls in this tax-shelter territory present a desirable development opportunity. In this beige borough, you’ll never run into the problem of spending the night hanging out with your “squad”, getting ready to “throw up” an “ACAB” only to find another “tagger” has already “1312”-ed your “sick spot”. The walls are waiting for you to “Bank”-sy it up!

5) Last but not least: Banks, and lots of them!

‘Nuf said. (We already made a good bank joke in #4.)

Jokes aside, on the beautiful fall evening, we slashed the tires of two cars parked in the driveway of 3140 rue Jean-Girard, in Westmount. This is the address of Brandon Shiller. Brandon Shiller is a prominent slumlord who buys up properties in low-income areas with the sole purpose of evicting tenants and hiking up the rent. His daddy’s real-estate firm is Shiller Lavy, which is also heavily-involved in gentrifying many neighborhoods in Montreal.

We encourage anyone else concerned with the rising rents and attacks on the poor to let these scumbags, who hide in the wealthiest neighbourhood in Montreal, know how you feel.

Public Advisory in Saint-Henri: Risk of Luxury Car Arson

 Comments Off on Public Advisory in Saint-Henri: Risk of Luxury Car Arson
Sep 182018

From Corporate media, détournement not required

A flier claiming to be from the Sud-Ouest borough is being refuted by city officials as a fake, and a fear-mongering tactic by opponents of gentrification.

The flier was left on some high-end cars – including an Audi and an Acura – urging owners to move out of St. Henri or face the possibility of their cars being set on fire.

The fliers were mostly recovered from Lea Roback St., where several cars were torched in summer 2017.

The flier says there’s a “risk of luxury car arson” in the area, and that police have not been able to arrest anyone in the arson cases from last year.

It advises residents to not leave flammable materials in the cars, and finally, to move out of the neighbourhood to Westmount or Beaconsfield.

Before the Sud-Ouest’s borough council meeting, City Councillor Craig Sauve said the fliers aren’t just fake, but they may end up scaring residents.

“it’s immature, it’s reckless, it’s dangerous – it doesn’t represent our neighbourhood whatsoever,” Sauve said. “It scares the very people we’re trying to help, so we shouldn’t do these kinds of things. We should try to look out for one another, and try to fight for more affordable housing, and that’s how we succeed as a neighbourhood.”

The car fires were captured on cell phone video last year, and yielded little information about a suspect.

At around 3:45 a.m. on Friday July 14, 2017, two cars were set on fire on Lea Roback Street. Two other nearby cars also caught fire.

A man was seen near the cars shortly before both fires were set, but police did not get a description.

The SPVM admitted that with no description of the suspect, and no security footage, the flier is correct – no arrests were made for the arsons from last year.

“It happened during the night – we had not much detail, no witness, nothing,” Sylvain Parent, Commander of Montreal Police Station 15.

“So of course for us to start an investigation based on the thing that we found on the scene was very difficult,” he added. “That’s why they say that nothing has been done – something has been done, but unfortunately we were unable to relate it to any kind of suspect whatsoever.”

Sauve said the borough and the city are finding ways to increase affordable housing and support community measures that help low income residents.

As he sees it, residents coming together to help each other is the real spirit of St. Henri, not somebody making veiled threats in a pamphlet.


Source: “City councillor says arson leaflets in St. Henri are fear-mongering fakes”, CTV Montreal, 11 September 2018

Parc-Extension Residents and Housing Activists Brave Violence at the Hands of BSR Group to Fight Gentrification

 Comments Off on Parc-Extension Residents and Housing Activists Brave Violence at the Hands of BSR Group to Fight Gentrification
Aug 102018

From Parc-Ex Contre la Gentrification (Facebook page)

Over 60 people gathered in front of Parc metro station yesterday afternoon to protest property speculation and gentrification. The action aimed to bring together members of Parc-Ex Against Gentrification, POPIR, Comité B.A.I.L.S, the Parc Extension Action Committee, the Comité Logement de Rosemont, and the Comité Logement du Plateau Mont-Royal to maintain pressure on property developers and send a clear message that condo and luxury apartment developments are not welcome in our neighborhoods.

We then went to the offices of the BSR Group- the property development company carrying out the evictions of Plaza Hutchison tenants- to deliver a letter and disrupt their day-to-day operations. For the past half century, the Plaza Hutchison has served as a meeting place for Parc-Extension, housing community groups, cultural associations, language schools, religious spaces and small local businesses. Since the BSR Group purchased the building, they have relentlessly intimidated, threatened and evicted those tenants without notice, one by one. We went today to the Place Décarie to make Ron Basal and his colleagues aware of our demands- namely that tenants should be allowed to return and the building be given back to the community.

Upon entering the office, we were repeatedly kicked and punched in the face by Ron Basal himself, and by BSR Group employees. Some of us were choked, while several others had their glasses ripped off their faces and broken. Employees uttered death threats, and numerous people were subjected to sexual harassment when one high ranking BSR Group member threatened to expose himself in front of them. When community members quickly decided to leave the building, BSR Group employees physically stopped the elevators, blocked the stairwells, forcibly confined people, and attempted to throw one person down the emergency exit stairwell. It was fucking intense. Many of us, neighbors and activists alike, have visited property development offices before in order to bring forward housing rights demands and to protest gentrification. No one could recall having been met with such violence in recent memory.

We also want to address some claims that have surfaced in media coverage of the action, notably TVA’s reprinting of the BSR Group’s staged photos of « grabuges » and Radio Canada’s assertion that we “forced the door” . It is worth mentioning that Radio Canada journalist Benoît Chapdelaine entered the office with us through its’ unlocked door, tried to dodge the punches, and witnessed the extreme violence of the BSR Group, but made no mention of it. Also, while three people were briefly detained, they were released on-site and there were no arrests.

Although we are disgusted by the actions of these gentrifiers, we remain unwavering in our resolve to disrupt business as usual, to put our bodies on the line and to fight the destruction of Parc Ex. We refuse to remain silent and allow the displacement of working class people of colour from our neighbourhood for the benefit of a new wave of richer and whiter inhabitants.

Expect to hear from us, we won’t back down.

Beyond Support: Update on Locke St Defendants and a Proposal for Beginning to Organize Solidarity

 Comments Off on Beyond Support: Update on Locke St Defendants and a Proposal for Beginning to Organize Solidarity
Jun 052018

From North Shore Counter-Info

Before giving updates on the Locke St defendants, it’s worth taking a moment to put things in their context and to remember that these seven people are accused of participating in a struggle against gentrification in the city. This struggle has taken countless different forms over the years, from mass meetings, to stickers and posters, to broad-based organizing, to counter-demonstrations and pressure campaigns. The reason so many people have chosen to dedicate their energy to this issue for so long is that it’s one of vital importance — people are losing their homes at an ever–increasing rate as housing is treated more as a commodity or investment than as a basic need that everyone deserves to have met.

The broad, vague charges brought against these defendants are a way of silencing the increasingly urgent voices speaking and acting out against this attack on our ability to live in this city with dignity. The message of the police and legal system here is that there is no circumstance in which our deteriorating living conditions would ever justify any threat to property. And yet for over a decade developers, speculators, and their boosters have been easily able to ignore all opposition behind a wall of feel-good platitudes about renewal and culture. To now approach the struggle against gentrification as simply a matter of crime is an attempt to strip it of its content, concealing the larger struggle between the class that profits from rising housing prices and those who are displaced.

When dealing with the hugely disproportionate violence of the state, it can be easy for us to lose track of these larger issues. Yes, we’re opposed to all forms of political repression, and we also don’t see that repression as separate from all the ways the police and government protect those who benefit from gentrification (business owners, landlords, investors) at the expense of those who don’t. Yes, we will support these defendants in beating their charges and getting through the incarceration and bail conditions they will have to endure in the meantime, but we will also keep finding ways to act against the dominant interests in this city. We can’t let ourselves be so swallowed by the support work that we give the rich a break.

In terms of support though, the three people who were wanted by police turned themselves in last night (Sunday, June 3), and were released on bail today. The person who fought her conditions and stayed in over the weekend has also been released without the particular conditions she had refused. The person from Montreal will be up for his hearing tomorrow morning, and we are hopeful he will be released on consent and allowed to return to Montreal. More updates on his situation tomorrow. So far, all the recent arrestees are able to remain in their homes without having to deal with house arrest.

Although personal and financial support for the defendants remains important ( for the Hamilton Community Defence Fund), a case of this importance requires solidarity that goes further than that. In the next week or so, we would like to encourage you to bring people together in your town to talk about issues of repression and gentrification, to talk about the details of this case and how it’s relevant to you elsewhere in the territory controlled by the Canadian state, and to clarify your basis of support for those accused. This might be a useful step in preparing to act in solidarity over the long term as this case drags on.

To help get discussions going, we’ve compiled a hastily laid-out zine of various texts that have circulated about the Locke St actions and these charges to far that can be downloaded here: And if you do decide to organize an event, if it’s public, consider posting on North Shore Counter Info’s events listing so others can find out about it:

Regardless of innocence or guilt, solidarity with the Locke St defendants and let’s keep pushing back against the power of capitalists.

Hamilton: What Are We Fighting For?

 Comments Off on Hamilton: What Are We Fighting For?
Mar 272018

From Northshore Counter-Info (anonymous submission)

I rarely read fiction. I regret that truth and so every few months, when I get given a book of dystopian sci-fi or imaginative history, I stumble through it halfheartedly. I know that fiction has a lot to offer in terms of expanding our realm of possibility, of inspiring creation of new worlds. Someone near and dear to me once advocated for changing my reading habits by explaining that non-fiction changes what we know but fiction changes how we think. And yet, I find myself falling back into the practical guides for non-monogamy, the exposés of political corruption, the treatises on decolonial feminism. I’m driven by the internal desire to dismantle systems of dominance and hierarchy. If I can learn enough about them, maybe I’ll be better equipped to aid in their destruction. Theory to practice to theory to practice.

Of course, I don’t have to choose between fiction or non-fiction. I can let my tastes and desires ambulate between the two genres. Perhaps one day, when the problems of the world feel less urgent, I’ll gravitate towards the creative potential of fiction. But for me, right now, things do feel immediate. And grave. And aggressive. I feel as though there are battles to be fought on all fronts and me and my comrades are standing back-to-back in a circle with swords drawn. To those who say this rhetoric is alarmist, I say you’re not paying close enough attention. Or maybe living too much inside your bubble.

My politics mean a lot to me. I take them very seriously. A casual friend date with me nearly always involves discussions of autonomy or gentrification or land reclamation. I most often have weeks where I have more organizing meetings than alone time. I won’t partner with someone who doesn’t share my principles, primarily because I need to be able to confide in them and lean on them during the inevitable periods of my life where state repression will play a role. I live and breathe my convictions. But my beliefs aren’t a static set of ideas, they’re a dynamic and beautiful tapestry of truths that evolve with the introduction of new information and experiences. The only constant in this world is change, and that’s a good thing. I want this world to change.

While sometimes victory shared alongside friends shifts my politics by figuring out what works, I’m more often changed by failure – figuring out what doesn’t. The root of transformation is conflict. Friendships become stronger when arguments are resolved and commitment to the relationship is confirmed time and time again. We have a name for those shallow relations who only stick with us through the good times – fair-weather friends. We have a tendency as people to shy away from what feels uncomfortable and lean into what feels nice. There is nothing wrong with this inclination and I believe we are well served by listening to our intuition. The problem arises when these sensations are then attributed a moral value. Happiness and harmony and calm are seen as “good” things and sadness and anger and discord are seen as “bad”, instead of simply two sides of a coin. There is no way to understand joy without despair. There is no way to know peace without conflict. Hurricanes serve a valuable purpose for the sea. Forest fires are very good news to blueberries, but less so to squirrels. It’s important to remember that creation often necessitates destruction.

I do not believe that we can build a society within capitalism that rejects hierarchy and oppression, or that said society would someday grow to naturally overtake the state resulting in an anarchist utopia. My visions of the future necessitate destruction of the current order. When I raise my fist at cries of smashing the state, I literally mean as much. Sometimes that destruction looks like taking down ideas, sometimes it looks more like taking down buildings. The world is going to change whether we like it or not, the only control we have is in shifting it’s direction. I am not afraid of a drastically different world or the transition and I’ll spend my life trying to convince others to embrace the unknown in the same way. It’s going to be okay, we’re in this together. So along we go as organizers, as anarchists, as friends, traversing the tricky terrain of putting thought into action. And then something happens. Specifically, the Locke St Riot. But we can speak about this in more general terms as well.

This isn’t the first time tactics and strategy have sown division in our circles, and – we can hope – it won’t be the last. I understand the reaction from the business class in Hamilton, and I understand the reaction of my fellow anarchists to the bloodthirsty and immediate embrace of mob violence. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to seek safety. But it’s not okay to write off the action as bad, or the principles behind the action as bad, because you associate your feelings of fear and discomfort and confusion as bad. I’m not writing this to ask you to accept what happened uncritically as a show of solidarity. I’m writing this to implore you to step into the confusion as an opportunity to clarify and grow your own politics. There are infinitely interesting and important questions that arise in the wake of the Locke St Riot.

Feelings of discomfort are valuable tools in assessing where we feel unclear or inconsistent in our political analysis. They help us to identify what questions we need to be asking ourselves. Am I truly willing to see the property of the wealthy seized or destroyed? To what extent do I actually support the destruction of Canadian society? How much of my own comfort am I willing to sacrifice in pursuit of a new social order? And maybe most importantly, am I prepared to accept violence as part of the revolution? Because what happened on Locke St shouldn’t be reduced to simple property destruction. There were people eating in those restaurants and sitting in cars and those people were afraid. While there was no threat to their personal safety, they also had no way of knowing that.

These are concepts that I wrestled with in the days and weeks after the riot. I came to the conclusion that I was okay with a moment of social disorder that caused some people to feel afraid. To the larger questions, posed above, the answers would read: yes, totally, most, and yes. My politics do not condemn violence as universally bad, as never the answer. My politics see the rich being afraid as inevitable. These are unpopular answers with a large segment of Hamiltonians. Living a politic that sees as much value in destruction as creation is a difficult position. And at some point putting those politics into action is going to lose us the favour of huge swaths of the population. Not everyone in this world stands to gain from a future free from oppression. Redistribution means taking from the rich, not waiting for them to give it up willingly. Direct action means doing it ourselves. And before you get ahead of me, I’m not trying to say that everyone needs to mask up and loot Locke St or lock down to a bulldozer. All revolutionary work is important, including that which remains behind the headlines. I am, however, saying that we need to remain committed to our politics and to each other even in times of great turmoil. Especially in times of great turmoil. That means not jumping ship as soon as liberals pick up pitchforks. It means not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It means defending our spaces and our ideas. What happened on Locke St wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t some glorious moment of revolution. It was messy and provocative and emotive. It was human. And it wasn’t about creating a new world in the same way that the majority of our organizing is. It was about the urge to destroy that which oppresses us, to fight back, to defend against the gentrifying onslaught on our neighborhoods. It was about creating space. Because that is the role that destruction plays in creation. It creates space for new ideas and conversations, and sometimes new buildings, new societies, new life.

It is possible to defend destruction in its own rite. But I would argue that it is easier in the context of protracted struggle. As someone who is committed to lifelong anarchism, I see moments of destruction as necessary to make room for the project of creative growth. I can even see them as beautiful. But maybe underneath it all, what happened on Locke St makes you uncomfortable because you see the downfall of capitalism as a lofty aspiration and not a real goal. Perhaps you realize, on some level, that you would be satisfied with more equitable treatment and access under the current system. That what you are really fighting for is a bigger piece of the pie. I argue that those are feelings you have a political responsibility to explore. If you decide that your unease with the riot was grounded in a belief in pacifism, then argue it. But maybe you realize that you’re just a little scared. Scared of coming to terms with what your politics really mean. Scared that living your beliefs will inevitably lead to the loss of your security. It’s okay to be scared. Fear can cause us to freeze and it can cause us to run, but it can also cause us to fight. And that is what I’m asking for. Don’t pontificate on social media, don’t denounce The Tower, don’t try to force anarchism into a pacifist box – step into the struggle and hold your friends tight. Talk about tactics. Sharpen your politics. Prepare yourself for what comes next.

A recent article in the local news ended with flimsy conjecture about the meaning of the flaming, crumbling tower that acts as the symbol of our local anarchist social center. With just a bit of digging, the author could have discerned that it was a reference to The Tower tarot card. A card that represents upheaval. The flaming tower embodies a moment of reckoning for an order built on false pretenses. It represents a revolutionary moment that clears the way for something new to rise from the ashes of the old. It is conflict embodied. It is something we should all embrace. For the problem isn’t the existence of conflict, but our inability to process it in a healthy and constructive way. Moving through conflict together is what builds trust. It’s what builds communities. On the other side of conflict is connection, commitment, and courage. I’m going to keep fighting because it’s what I believe we need right now. We need to make space. But know that I hope to live to see the day where the need for destruction has passed, where the oppressive systems which keep us down and divided have been dismantled, where we have space to create new worlds. I hope you’re standing next to me. I hope to imagine fantastical utopias and see them as possibilities. I hope to read fiction.

Disruption of the Parc-Ex Borough Council Meeting to Denounce Gentrification

 Comments Off on Disruption of the Parc-Ex Borough Council Meeting to Denounce Gentrification
Mar 192018

From Parc-Ex Contre la Gentrification (Facebook)

On March 13, we went to the Villeray-St-Michel-Parc-Extension borough council meeting in order to prevent the elected officials of the borough from granting Ron Basal a permit to continue the development of his luxury apartment project in Plaza Hutchison. After the council refused to consider the appeal of residents in Villeray who opposed the Taxi Diamond condo project, we decided to disrupt the meeting, so that Ron Basal would not receive his permit. We were brutally forced out of the room by the police, and two people were arrested and charged. The borough council then approved the permit for the Plaza Hutchison construction, in an empty room, with Basal sitting in the front row.

We have pursued all of the available administrative and political channels, but those have only led us to an impasse. It is time now to take to the streets, instead of trying to work with a system we don’t believe in. If the mayors find this messy, that is too bad for them. We are disgusted, but not surprised by the lack of initiative, openness, and lack of political will demonstrated by borough mayor Fumagalli. Fumagalli has demonstrated that she won’t dare to take even the slightest risk in denying a simple permit, even when facing an issue with such grave consequences for the community. Writing a communique to say that she opposes the project, despite having voted for approving the permit, is an insult for the tenants of the building who have been evicted, as well as to the residents of the neighbourhood. She accuses us of making the council meeting unsafe, but the only weapons we had to oppose the police batons were toy trumpets and noisemakers. The two people arrested, brutally forced to the ground and handcuffed for having tried to make their voices heard would have also liked to feel safe.

We also reject Valérie Plante’s proposal to invest 17 million dollars in projects to promote “social mixity” in Parc-Extension. Social mixity does not benefit everybody; it’s just a polite term to make gentrification easier to swallow. In fact, such projects only result in the allocation of public funds to build housing for the wealthy- and actually furthers the process of gentrification by introducing them to “newly discovered” and “exotic” neighborhoods. We refuse to support the displacement of working class people of colour from our neighbourhood for the benefit of a new wave of richer and whiter inhabitants.

If the mayor and the councillors have thrown in the towel on this project, we cannot. We cannot abandon the struggle to preserve a community space that has been the heart of our community for decades. We will not allow gentrification in our neighbourhood. Together, we will continue the struggle!

From #HoMa to #HamOnt: The secret is to round up your loser friends.

 Comments Off on From #HoMa to #HamOnt: The secret is to round up your loser friends.
Mar 122018

Anonymous submission to MTL Counter-info. To donate to The Tower’s renovation fund, click here. 

These thugs are no better than the anarchists.

Don’t they know the financial burden that their vandalism will have on the Tower’s landlord?

Don’t they understand that boarded up windows will bring down property values in the neighbourhood around the Tower??

Engaging in this kind of violence just creates lawlessness, and legitimizes the destruction of private property.

When we heard that the Tower got attacked, we had to show our love. Not only because we love anarchist social centres, but because we also live in a city where (as far as we can tell) small hip business owners exist solely to steal your wages, fondle cops, and sell you overpriced shit sandwiches. Fuck the class traitors, fuck the gentrifiers, fuck the police, but still no fucks at all given to broken windows.

Imagine being so mad about another anarchist social centre getting attacked, that you round up your loser friends, cover your faces, and take a siiiiick photo in solidarity.

Staying Solid through the Flurry: An Anarchist Perspective on the Kirkendall Riot

 Comments Off on Staying Solid through the Flurry: An Anarchist Perspective on the Kirkendall Riot
Mar 112018

Solidarity with The Tower! The Hamilton anarchist social centre has faced several attacks since the events on Locke Street. To donate to The Tower’s renovation fund, click here. 

Read The Tower’s statement on recent events here.


I wasn’t there on Aberdeen or Locke that night. I don’t know who was, and I’m not interested in knowing who was. I don’t necessarily think it was the most strategic or timely action in Hamilton’s history of resistance, but I certainly don’t condemn it. Far from it. I think it was brave, I think it was well-executed, and I think it was a meaningful and justified act of political action against a neighbourhood that sits way too comfortably on a mountain of unearned privileges, and that flamboyantly basks in the luxuries afforded by a destructive and exploitative system.

What happened on Saturday night in the Kirkendall neighborhood was both complicated and beautiful.

That riot1 on Saturday has caused an absolute frenzy of activity in Hamilton, from face-to-face conversations to social media outbursts to organized acts of solidarity to a truly mobbish lust for punishment and retribution. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being invested in a police operation to catch the people who did it. The tower has been attacked 3 times in as many days. I have spent countless hours on social media, read every article in every media outlet, and talked with dozens of people about it. The profound failures of emotion, of reason, and of basic journalism in this town have been stunning. While my face-to-face interactions have mostly been filled with nuance, emotional vulnerability, and politically interesting conversations, I’ve found little but malignant nonsense online. I’ve had moments of feeling literally sickened by things I’m reading. People in this city are showing their true stripes, and it’s not pretty.

Tattered Relationships

I am an anarchist born and raised in Hamilton. By anarchist, I don’t mean someone who sits behind my computer and occasionally makes broad proclamations about politics, I mean I spend a lot of my time acting and organizing against all forms of unconsensual hierarchy, domination, and most passionately, against the pillaging and destruction of this planet. I despise with every fibre of my being the ecocidal, patriarchal, white-supremacist, capitalist system that has imposed itself on this world, and that has subsumed so many aspects of our lives. I fight against the tendrils of that world wherever I can find them.

I also spend a lot of time trying to nurture and build something different. Trying to build community around radical ideas (ones that address the root of the problems), to model those ideas in our relationships, in our organizing spaces, and in our various projects. But those kind of constructive projects have limits, because in truth the only way for us to meaningfully do any of those things is to resist and ultimately destroy the systems that dominate us. They’ve got police and militaries and extensive propaganda networks and jails and judges all designed to make sure that nothing different emerges. We can’t just build new worlds. We need to destroy the systems that prevent other worlds from existing.

I am also a part of the broader Hamilton community. Maybe I’ve served you a bottle of Export at a local bar/venue, maybe I’ve taken care of your disabled uncle, maybe we regularly chat while I buy apples from you at the farmers market or maybe I even sold you organic produce once when I was working on a farm. I have a thousand “community pals” in this city, people I say hi to and share a general sense of warmth and camaraderie with. I like that about living in Hamilton. In some ways it can feel nourishing and comfortable.

One of the things that really challenges me about the riot last weekend is the extent to which it’s fractured a lot of those relationships. People know my politics, and know I have some association with the anarchist scene in Hamilton, and already I can feel the chill. I’ve had three interactions with people since Saturday who suddenly didn’t want to say hi, didn’t want to share a moment of warmth with me. They’re too upset with anarchists. They need someone to blame so they’re blaming everyone they can link to that word.

It’s absolutely juvenile.

So yes, it hurts to think that my wider social fabric in this city has been tattered a bit. It feels less comfortable here. But here’s the thing about radical politics, the kind of politics that seeks to fundamentally change the way human beings organize themselves: It’s never comfortable. And that’s what the riot in Kirkendall is about for me.

It’s about making people uncomfortable.

It’s about bursting a bubble.

The Value of Discomfort

Let’s talk about bubbles.

The majority of North Americans live in a bubble of privilege; Generally speaking, the global north amasses its privilege on the exploitation of the global south. We benefit but we don’t have to see what happens on the other side. Settlers in North America live in a bubble of privilege amassed through the colonization of this land and the displacement, enslavement, and murder of Indigenous peoples. We continue to benefit from colonization, but we’re not often made to see the historical or ongoing impacts of it. White people live in a bubble of privilege amassed on the enslavement, exploitation and incarceration of brown and black people. Onwards and onwards.

Until we get to a neighbourhood like Kirkendall. Most of the people in Kirkendall live in a dense cluster of bubbles. A complicated and overwhelming mandala of unearned privileges2, colored with apathy and framed on all sides by bourgeois morality3. And it’s very very comfortable in bubbleland. We’ve all seen those mansions on Aberdeen, we’ve all seen the luxury cars parked on Locke, we’ve all seen the cupcake boutiques: the people in that neighborhood are living decadent and comfortable lives. Whatever sob stories they’re telling right now, just remember that they’re living larger than the vast majority of Hamiltonians. It’s not that they don’t care about other people or even systems of oppression – lots of them donate to charities and advocate for living wages and compost all of their organic waste. They’re just not willing to let anything disrupt the comfort of their bubbles.

I think it’s fair to say that the people in Kirkendall felt deeply uncomfortable last weekend. Something unpleasant snuck into bubbleland, wrecked havoc on some material objects, terrified some bystanders, and dissipated before those stealthy hamilton pigs could restore order and comfort.


How You Came to Care About A Doughnut Shop

Did I mention I hate capitalism? I hate the way it organizes communities into efficient work forces to funnel money up the pyramid. I hate the way it alienates us from our capacities and desires and forces us to commodify our passions. Capitalism forces us to rely heavily, if not entirely, on a system that is not only killing the planet, but is pitting humans against each other and rapidly stockpiling all of the wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands. Everyday capitalism makes us serve the system that is crushing us.

Because it’s so pervasive, widespread and cutthroat, capitalism has colonized nearly every aspect of our lives. Everyday I make concessions to a capitalist system, not because I want to perpetuate it, but because it has literally stamped out every other option (exterminate the buffalo, toxify the water, displace and murder every non-capitalist community, use every conceivable method of torture to subdue rebellious populations, etc.). One of the most mind boggling and heartwrenching things about capitalism is that, because it has so thoroughly colonized us, it can cause an otherwise smart and creative human being to identify deeply with a silly business plans. That doughnut shop becomes more than just a way to survive in capitalism, it becomes who i am and what i stand for. We all need to hustle in a capitalist system to stay alive, to keep food on the table and heat in the ducts. Some of us come to identify with those hustles, some don’t. I feel really fucking sorry for the people who identify themselves so deeply with their hustles. There’s so much more to this life than the ways we navigate capitalism. There’s so many more interesting and urgent things to rally around and defend than broken windows in bourgeois neighbourhoods. Capitalism sucks the passion out of people and replaces it with an allegiance to a system that has been violently imposed on us.

For me meaningful passion can only exist outside of capitalism, ideally against it.

But Small Businesses!!!

One of the things that makes me laugh the most in the social media outcry this week is the assumed universality of consumer activism as a meaningful political strategy. 20 years ago leftists became really fixated on big businesses like starbucks and walmart as the main enemies in the battle against neo-liberal globalization. But since then a lot of us have realized that that is a horribly shortsighted and deeply unsatisfactory set of ideas. We don’t hate chain stores, we hate capitalism. We don’t believe for a second that better shopping habits and local organic grocery stores are going to help us radically redefine life on this planet. Those kind of approaches are placebos and security blankets for people who want to care about the world but prioritize comfort before all else. People who really like life in bubbleland but just want it to be more wholesome and less corporate. So they shop local, eat organic, bike to work. The bubbles remain unchanged, the decor is a bit more eco.

I believe that all employers are entering into an inherently exploitative relationship with their employees. Even the most respectful, well-paying, well-intentioned employer is rendering surplus capital from those they hire. I’ve been a boss before. I didn’t like it, but it was a good hustle. I didn’t come to identify with it, and if the people who worked under me ever organized against the company, I would have jumped ship on my position immediately and joined with them. I know where I belong when it comes to social agitation – aiming anger up the pyramid, not down.

Opening a small business is a hustle that inevitably perpetuates capitalism, and businesses geared specifically towards people with a lot of money (essentially every business on Locke Street) are actively shaping landscapes to be more accessible to rich people and less accessible to poor people. Gentrification is a word to describe class war – the endless movement of wealth in ways that rearrange spaces for rich people at the expense of poor people. Poor people are displaced, policed, pushed into more and more toxic environments, imprisoned, and forgotten. They are occasionally talked about by politicians looking to cash in on some of that sweet liberal sentimentality, but it never amounts to more than a few bed-bug infested low-income units and a photo-op.

People in Kirkendall and other privileged, middle-and-upper class neighborhoods in Hamilton never have to see the violent impacts of gentrification. They never have to feel the precarity, the fatigue, the terror, the frustration, the illnesses, and the despondency. They eat $5 cupcakes and read articles written by other affluent people about revitalization.

It’s not that anyone likes areas to remain poor. It’s not that we like derelict buildings or shitty fast food. It’s that moving wealth into a neighbourhood only attracts more rich people, it doesn’t fundamentally change the conditions of the people who live there. Because capitalism isn’t designed to float all boats, it mostly just becomes a process of shuffling poor people around based on the whims of rich people. Don’t be surprised when working class people stand their ground from time to time.

To Those in Kirkendall

When people attack your businesses they are trying to pop your bubbles. Make you uncomfortable. Tell you to fuck off. Because with every cent you move around your neighborhood you are creating and recreating a capitalist world that will always have poor people and that will always enact violence upon them. When people attack places like The Heather, a truly repugnant operation, it’s because that place is a Trojan horse filled with exorbitant food prices, evictions, and police.

Remember how it felt when your window got smashed? That’s how it feels for us when a rich business opens up on our block. It’s an attack. A window getting smashed is aggressive, the movement of capital is violent.

The world you are creating with your businesses may feel pleasent to you, it may create spaces that feel lovely and safe and eco to you, it may feel like part of some collective attempt to make the world a little bit better. To me and many others it is the opposite. Locke street is a nightmare. I want to fight against a world where that kind of bubbleland is possible. Where people can daily ignore their mountains of privilege while patting themselves on the back for all the hard work they put into their hustles. Because right across town are people hustling twice as hard and getting nowhere. Because right across town your friends and your money are helping to remake other neighbourhood in the image of this one. Your friendly, progressive bubble is exclusive, exploitative, and viral.

And if you came from a poor background, fuck you even more. Because there is nothing admirable about climbing the economic ladder and joining the apathetic upper classes. Under capitalism your upward mobility always comes at the expense of someone else. Always.

I have no doubt that it’s hurtful and scary and infuriating to have something that you poured a lot of time and energy into destroyed. Your car or your house or your business. I know some of you and I don’t think you’re all awful people. You’re just standing on the wrong side of a line. If you had any integrity or meaningful convictions you would use the attention brought on you this week to talk about your privilege, to talk about exploitation and poverty, to talk about capitalism, to talk about how revealing it is that people are willing to risk their lives to smash your bubble of comfort. Your sentimentality is garbage, your waves of solidarity from other rich and middle-class folks are nauseating, and your cries of surprise and confusion are laughable. If you’re surprised that people are angry about affluence, about gentrification, about bussinesses (big and small) that offer delicious organic treats to rich people while the rest of us wait in line at food basics for pesticide smothered produce, you’re not paying attention.

This world is literally on fire with people furious about the pyramid scheme of capitalism – did you think you were immune from those flames?

Staying Solid

For the lefties and radicals who’ve been running their mouths on social media: Do you remember who you were last week? I do. I remember you sharing that meme about how “The First Gay Pride Was A Riot”. I remember you glorifying uprisings all over the world. I remember you repping your “Riots not Diets” patches. I remember you swept up in drunken ecstasy at the radical hip hop show, chanting along to lyrics about fighting against capitalism, letting all of that hard hitting truth flow through your body and dissipate into a hungover burp the next morning. So what happened? Did it feel good to front a little political anger, to rep a little radical aesthetic? And now that the liberal peace of your corner coffee shop got ruptured you’re squealing all over facebook? Now that you know someone who owns a business that got smashed up you’re queasy about the idea of radically confronting capital? The truth is that an overwhelming majority of people who rep radical politics in some part of their life don’t actually stand for anything. They stand for edginess, righteousness, and for publicly absolving the guilt of privilege (white, middle-class, able-bodied, male, etc.). They venture forays into exhilarating forms of resistance, rarely put their bodies on the line, and almost never do anything that might actually threaten their long-term comfort, privilege, and stability. And in a way that’s okay. I’m glad to see who those people are right now. But I also know that’s not all of you.

Let me say this clearly: I think it’s okay if you don’t condone the tactics used on Aberdeen and Locke street that night. If you think it was pointless, unstrategic, or misdirected that’s fine. Let’s talk about that (in secure and respectful ways). But don’t let yourself be someone who dissolves like a sugar cube in a warm glass of liberal sentimentality over a small riot in a rich neighborhood. Step back from the newspapers, step back from social media, step back from your own community for a second if you have to, and ask yourself: where do you want to set your stakes in this kind of moment? Are you more angry about a group of masked people who made a significant escalation in a war against gentrifying businesses, rich people, and capitalism, or are you more angry about gentrifying busineses, rich people and capitalism? Even if you think the action was foolish, don’t let your response be another fucking voice in the shrill miasma of liberal nonsense. Stand by your own politics, and talk with the people close to you about your opinions. Just because people are scared, just because relationships are threatened, and just because you know someone who was affected, it doesn’t mean you have to check your opinions at the door. Doesn’t mean you need to distance yourself from things you held dear last week. Backing away from the radical scene now, backing away from your critiques of gentrification now – it’s true cowardice. Yes, it’s terrifying to speak out against the frantic current right now, when people are threatening to stab anyone who was involved; when friends and family are asking us invasive and accusatory questions; when hundreds of liberals and alt-right goons are tripping over each other to collaborate with the police (they always did make good bed-buddies); when it feels like small businesses are suddenly the most important and revered projects in the world. But you’ve been building a radical analysis of this world for years – I know you have enough pith in your values to withstand this flurry.

Stay solid. Don’t get wrapped up in the sentimentality. Speak your mind. And for fuck’s sake stop snitching. Talking to the police, insinuating to your friends or on social media that you know who did this, asking people to step forward, all of that is completely inexcusable behaviour that risks getting people thrown in jail for years. Remember jail? Remember that system of colonial repression that needs to be abolished entirely before any of us can be free? Right. That’s where people are going if you keep fucking talking. Are you really feeling that protective over those businesses and luxury cars, or are you just wrapped up in some toxic momentum? Next week the headlines will dissipate, the tides of social media righteousness will turn, and those of us who have been resisting systems of domination will continue to do so in solidarity with each other.

1 I’m using the word riot here even though people of all stripes will probably object. I’m describing 30ish people who met in a park in an affluent neighbourhood, beat back the police, and blasted music on the streets while smashing windows and hurling eggs in plain view of bystanders. If it wasn’t a proper riot, it was at least riotous, so I’ll use that word for convenience.

2 Unearned privileges, not in the sense that you don’t bust your ass for your paycheck, unearned in the sense that capitalism doesn’t afford everyone the same rewards as you for the same amount of work. Not unearned in the sense that nothing hard has ever happened to you, but in the sense that the opportunities and chances afforded to you are rooted in long histories of patriarchy, colonization, racism, etc.

3 e.g. the kind of morality that suppresses very real tensions in society with politeness, that uses the language of “equality” and “respect” to disguise gross imbalances of power, and that understands legitimate social action to be anything that doesn’t rock the boat.

Hamilton: Ungovernables and Yuppie Tears: A Saturday night on Locke St

 Comments Off on Hamilton: Ungovernables and Yuppie Tears: A Saturday night on Locke St
Mar 072018


Text received as an anonymous submission

Every day — whether it’s the landlords charging ever more rent for ever shittier apartments, the boss pushing you to work harder, the business association lobbying for more cops, or just the Audi that cuts you off in rush hour — the rich make our lives worse. Every day we have to deal with their attacks on us, but every once in a while we can find a way to strike back.

On Saturday night, I met up with a group of people in the Durand neighbourhood, strolled along Aberdeen and up some of the side streets attacking the luxury cars and mansions we found there, making noise with a portable sound system and loads of fireworks. The march then turned down Locke and attacked as many yuppie businesses as we could before deciding to disperse. The police say we ran from them, but I didn’t see a single fucking cop after they were chased off up on Aberdeen.

To all the undoubtedly sincere and principled anti-capitalists on the internet who wonder why the Starbucks didn’t get smashed but all the poor, sweet small businesses did, it’s only because it was just a bit too far north. My one regret from the evening.

As the comrade Kirk Burgess explained on Twitter:

“Imagine being so mad about gentrification; that you round up some loser friends, cover your faces, and run riot in one of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods. Throwing bricks at homes and businesses. You’re disgusting.”

That’s more or less it Kirk, me and my loser friends.

All my worst bosses have been small business owners — the problem isn’t the size of the business, it’s that the relationship is exploitative. When someone decides to be a capitalist, making money through their investments rather than through their labour, their position relative to changes in the city becomes fundamentally different. Gentrification, as an example: when rents go up, it means they make more money (rather than lose their home); when prices go up and rich people move in, it means a chance to sell luxury goods (while we work for minimum wage); when more police and surveillance come in, it secures your investment (while we get harassed and pushed out). They are getting rich because our lives are getting worse.

Sure, small business owners may work long hours, but even if I’m putting in 12 hour days next to my boss, and we both scrub the toilet, the fact that they own and I work means our relationship to the work is totally different. When business is good (or when they manage to crowdfund), they’re taking out a new lease on a car or signing a mortgage on an investment property while my check is eaten up by rent, bills, and the grocery store. I’ve got no option but to show up tomorrow while their ability to enrich themselves increases.

Fuck the rich. Fuck capitalists (even the ones who sell high-end baked goods). And to all of you who want to complain about violence, remember that the only reason these parasites get to keep their hands clean is because most often their attacks just look like business as usual.

Should we continue writing letters hoping Jason “I-want-an-Apple-store” Farr will do something? Or believing that somehow Andrea Horwath will stop kissing the Locke St BIA’s ass? Or we could trick ourselves that the solution to economic oppression is more innovative startups, or charity? Should I just keep smiling at the rich jerk in hopes that he’ll give me a bigger tip?

Locke St was downtown’s first gentrified street, its “success story” as Mayor Fred might say, the surrounding neighbourhoods the first to see the rent hikes that have since come to dominate so many of our lives. Turning the tables and finally counterattacking Saturday night helped me to shake off some of the fear and frustration that build up when you’re trapped in a hopeless situation. May the rich remember that they are still within the reach of all the people they fuck over.

Mainstream media links: