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

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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.

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6 thoughts on “Hamilton: Ungovernables and Yuppie Tears: A Saturday night on Locke St”

  1. Oddly I understand your frustrations. I have worked for some pretty asshole small business owners too. I’m not here to attack you, and probably won’t change your mind. But just in case, I wanted to say that spreading hate, fear, and destruction is just not going to make your message understood. If anything, this attack on these yuppie businesses has brought them even more support. Sure I guess you could keep doing it, but you know they have insurance right? My point is – what is your end goal here? Is it for them to close down? Is it to de-gentrify? Or is it to make sure that everyone – including you – has a fair chance at success? I just think that if you focused on creating positive change, rather than destruction, you would have a much better chance of 1.) Having your message heard, and 2.) Actually achieving something you can be proud of. And just so you know, I am personally unemployed at the moment and struggling to find work thay pays more than minimum wage myself (even with a college education and years of experience). Also my family moved out of Hamilton a few years ago so we could actually afford a house. Although I’m not destitute, I wanted to be clear that I am not typing this from a McMansion with a Mercedes in the driveway. I am going to include my email in case you would ever like to brainstorm about positive ways in which you can insight change. Sincerely, Sharon

    1. Sharon, you’re a positive voice in a negative time and I applaud you. I also understand where the frustration from op and friends coming from – but 100% went about airing those grievances the wrong way. Thing is, gentrification needs to happen – it’s progress. Cities and communities need to grow to succeed, BUT, cities and communities also need to put services and programs in place that ensure no one is getting left behind. And that’s not happening. I think there is a lot of positive ways we can combat poverty in our communities both as a city and as a community (for example, many of the new businesses have been selling a portion of proceeds to indwell.ca to help fund affordable housing). Let’s move forward – together.

      Op, you’re passionate, you’re motivated and smart enough to get assembled – let’s use that to have some good come out of this situation. Imagine the support you’ll receive choosing to inspire rather than destroy. Let’s do this!


      1. Also, you say the homeless need “services”, no they need actual homes, food and clothing. Not a damn shelter, which is demeaning. Shelters are for emergencies when you can’t get back to your home, they are not a replacement for a permanent roof over your head.

        Of course the petty interests of the yuppie class and their rich idols trumps all of that so you’ll never see the enormous amount of stolen wealth and land returned… which is what would be needed to accomplish this.

        But no, the rich needs to be coddled while they have multiple homes, private islands, luxury cars and everything else under the sun while the poor live in squalor and compete with other poor people for whatever is left. That’s your “success”, and you can shove it up your ass.

      2. Sharon and Jess, I can really understand where your “we can do it together” statements come from. Conflict is scary and messy, but at the same time, trying to pacify the pissed off broke people in tihs city who sometimes fight back is pretty misguided.

        Charity and social programs are flimsy ways of masking over a fundamentally exploitative situation, that some people get rich off of owning the things others need to survive. No matter how much Donut Monster donates to some fucking charity, they have tied their own personal financial success to a process of gentrification that harms most of the people around them.

        I don’t want charity, I want solidarity.

        Sharon, your “fair chance at success” rhetoric is exactly the problem. It doesn’t matter who the capitalists are or if we all had a chance to become it. Even if financial success was determined by random draw, it would still create an unequal situation that I would oppose. As an anarchist, I’m against economic exploitation, not just the specific abuses that this society carries out against its most marginalized. I’m against social climbers and the “gotta get mine” mentality contained in the “work hard to succeed” bullshit that gets so thoughtlessly thrown around.

        The small business owners on Locke st, no matter how hard they work, have decided to side with the powerful in Hamilton and have broken solidarity with everyone else. Whatever you think about broken windows, that fundamental fact means we shouldn’t feel too sad for them.

  2. ” Or is it to make sure that everyone – including you – has a fair chance at success?”

    No “fair chance” at success, we demand equality. Not a chance at it, we want equal access to resources or the wealth.

    We aren’t interested in working within capitalism or your so-called democracy. We want to upend all of these. We aren’t interested in reform, we are interested in equality and autonomy and will fight to get it.

    No compromises with capital or the state will ever bring us this. Popular movements have been fighting for, and getting, concessions for centuries and it doesn’t work. Mere concessions won’t do, the whole system is designed to exploit.

    Stay the course and fight for capitalism and the state if you want, enjoy your unemployment. I would say I hope you “make it” but “making it” under this system comes at the expense of the most poor, not the rich celebrities you idolize.

    I don’t need another scumbag rich person looking down at the rest of us so I can only hope your unemployment sheds light on how cruel and unjust this system truly is, and that the system isn’t designed to work for everyday people it’s designed to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few.

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