Hamilton: The Tower’s Statement on Recent Events

From The Tower, Hamilton’s Anarchist Social Centre, after a riot on Locke St Saturday, their windows smashed Sunday night, and then their door kicked in Tuesday night

We’ve held off on making any public statements so far because it’s really not our desire to have conversations on the internet, such a toxic and alienating place. But having had our space attacked twice in the last couple of days, we feel like it’s important to share a few reflections and be clear about where we stand.

First, no, the actions on Locke and Aberdeen on Saturday night were not organized by the Tower, but yes, we support what happened and are in solidarity with those who carried them out. Class war is happening every day in this city, with constant attacks on poor and working people. It’s disappointing that so many only care about the occasional moment when a bit of anger flows back the other way. The ongoing effects of gentrification in this city are heartbreaking – waves of displacement, growing violence, and intensifying poverty. You cannot expect for all of this to just be swept under the proverbial rug. We have zero tears to shed for Locke st.

We feel that a single family being evicted is far worse than everything that happened on Locke St, even if you believe that running luxury businesses is a neutral act. And the level of outrage is particularly despicable considering that there have been two random stabbings of women in the last few days as well. It’s beyond disgusting to see conversations about artisan donuts being prioritized over conversations about violence against women.

This isn’t just whataboutism, this is us picking sides. When shit goes down, we aren’t on the side of the rich and business class. We’re in solidarity with everyone who resists the dominant powers in this city and we make any tactical criticisms we have privately. We oppose all repression and all collaboration with the police.

We’ve received several specific threats from far-right groups in the last few days foreshadowing the attacks on our space. Unsurprisingly, the local business class and the white supremacists who organized anti-immigrant demos in the city last year have found themselves on the same side.

All the dramatics from Locke St show that they expected not only to make money pursuing their self-interest and ignoring its impacts on others, they expected to also be loved for it. We aren’t “shocked and horrified” by being attacked because we never expected the powerful and their bootlickers in this city to thank us for opposing them.

We know it’s not boutiques that are the main driver of gentrification and the suffering it brings; it’s real estate investment, speculation, and the municipal policies that encourage them. Small business are often visible and vocal in cheerleading, but aren’t the ones redeveloping whole blocks or carrying out mass evictions. What they have done, though, is to put themselves on the side of the speculators and landlords, positioning themselves to profit off forces that harm most of their neighbours. We’ve chosen to critique and oppose them in the past because of their alliance with the rich and the big capitalists, and though they’re not most responsible, their actions do have real consequences.

To be clear, we won’t be filing police reports over this, but rather dealing with it autonomously and drawing on networks of mutual aid. The Tower will continue hosting the kinds of events and groups it always has, putting resources in common and sharing ideas. The events of the past few days change nothing about our project or our politics and we call on everyone with whom we’ve shared moments of struggle in the past to take some deep breaths and realize that although things are more intense right now, nothing has really changed.

6 thoughts on “Hamilton: The Tower’s Statement on Recent Events”

  1. I’m sorry that happened to you. It’s wrong. But violence breeds violence (even if that violence is misdirected) and here is an example of what we end up with when people throw rocks instead of engaging in dialogue. I too believe the rapid gentrification of Hamilton and the displacement of the poor is a huge problem but I’m unclear as to how all this window smashing (Locke Street businesses and your own) is leading to anything other than piles of broken glass and more anger. What is the goal? To create actual social change or just piss everyone off and make enemies? Because broken windows don’t house the homeless or feed the poor; they just support a robust insurance industry. I would be very interested in proactive community action that is respectful of all Hamiltonians, including those who are just trying to eke out a living, whether self-employed, employed, underemployed or unemployed. Supporting pointless violence that works against you by increasing support for those you disapprove of seems so obviously counter-productive. We need to work together, not cause further division.

    1. If violence breeds violence and you concede this is a bad thing, does this mean you are against the police and the military?

      Is evicting people and forcing them to live on the street or in a dangerous shelter not also violence (especially when the police are the ones doing it?) Or does it have to involve bloodshed rather than the slow death penalty of being in poverty for it to affect you?

      It’s interesting that you want poor and homeless people to enter into dialogue with the business class – landlords, small business owners, property developers and the like (and, of course, their police lackeys) … when they are some of the most empathy-less uncaring people in the world, literally. That’s what you have to be in order to be involved in somehow “developing” an area where this means kicking people out of their homes or “street-sweeping” the homeless — all for the petty interests of the wealthy.

      1. Right on. Encouraging dialogue is a very democratic form of repression, in that it allows the status quo to continue while sucking up the energy of people who are angry enough about oppression to act. Not saying that we shouldn’t be talking and engaging on the level of ideas, but that the push to prioritize talking with the people most likely (and with the most to gain by it) to never become our comrades is deeply misguided.

        There is no together. Anarchists in Hamilton don’t cause the divisions, capitalism does. The anarchists are simply pointing out those divisions, as this statement does well, and are trying to find ways to push back against the constant attacks by the rich and owning class.

  2. Dear moderators, I appreciate (and strongly disagree with) your decision to allow comments. Please recognize though that leaving ignorant, reformist, hippy garbage stand posted in response to a beautifully articulated communique really fucks with what I assume is a goal of your project: to make a site that anarchists want to go to to learn about rad shit happening in your region. If you really have to do the comments section please moderate better.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment and for sharing your critique.

      We decided to allow commenting on Northshore in order that conversation about the texts and ideas posted here can happen in a more secure, anonymous space, off of social media. As one individual involved, I do see this site as a resource for anarchists outside the region to learn about what’s happening here, but I mostly see it as a way to engage internally with our local context. And the ‘hippy shit’ comments I decided to post (out of about a hundred pieces of spam and hate mail) felt worthy of response. I left them up in hopes that someone would take the time to respond to them and refute the points made and I’m glad to see that has happened.

      That said, I’m just one person, other people involved in the site might disagree and we might end up engaging differently down the line. All comments are moderated before being posted and only substantive responses that are in some way useful to “within the movement” conversations will be approved.

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