Anonymous Submission to North Shore Counter-Info
Let me tell you a funny story.
On Friday June 28, 2019 in the early afternoon I was getting excited for a queer dance party that would soon take over the streets of Hamilton; one more action showcasing queer resilience and resistance here in Hamilton, despite police repression. I was telling my friend about is as we drove across town, not even a little bit close to home.
We stopped for one moment and were immediately surrounded by at least 8 police cars.
That’s right; Eight.
Three from the left, five from the right.
In front of plenty of curious onlookers, emerging from a combination of eight marked and unmarked police cars snarling traffic, Hamilton police placed me under arrest: “We don’t know much of what this is about, but we’ll bring you to the station and the detective will talk to you.”
It turns out that for ALL of that? It was about lawn signs.
Approximately forty of them, to be exact. Fluorescent pink words on white backgrounds screaming “THE MAYOR HATES QUEERS” installed on the mayor’s front lawn.
The incident in question – of which I’m clearly alleged to be a part of – apparently lasted fifteen minutes, made a lot of amazingly horrific noise, and involved people putting signs in a lawn while chanting about how they don’t feel heard by the mayor.
For that, it took police only five (5!!) hours to respond to the incident, interview witnesses, gather evidence, examine it, identify at least one suspect, bring that information to the court, have a warrant issued, gather 8 police cars and…hunt me down all the way across town, far from home, while driving someone else’s car.
For lawn signs.
One more time for levity.
FOR LAWN SIGNS.
I’m pretty sure five hours here falls under the definition of nepotism.
Mayor Fred, head of the police services board, got woken up a bit too early, called his police pals, and initiated a city-wide manhunt for one lone – queer – woman on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.
And then called me – and others denouncing his dismissive homophobia – fake queers.
In case there is any doubt: first. I am, in fact, queer. Second, whoever stood outside Fred’s house telling him exactly what they thought that morning were amplifying the trans, non-binary and queer voices of those throughout this city who weren’t there.
We are under attack.
We will defend ourselves.
We will not let you criminalize our community for it.
We will resist. We will keep resisting. Queers defend queers!
The voices outside that house echoed trans, non-binary & queer voices that had been ignored and silenced as a city advisory committee. They echoed the voices who insisted Mayor Fred not raise a pride flag at city hall for employing and protecting a known white supremacist and for failing at their non-binary and trans-inclusive policies. They were the queer voices that had been disregarded, insulted, and otherwise attacked – verbally by the mayor and others and physically by homophobes at Pride. They were the trans, non-binary and queer voices of those removed from city hall meetings not once but twice, trying to get their point across. The voice of Cedar, arrested for speaking out at the 2SLGBQT+ town hall. They were the voices that had presented their lived experiences only to be called liars; creators of false narratives, and fake queers.
The queer folks in this city have plenty of reasons to be angry. Plenty of reasons to show up outside the mayor’s home in the early morning and make sure they were heard. Really heard.
Now some of you say that the homes of politicians should be off limits – yet our queer lives and our homes and our bodies are never off limits to politicians or police. Police and municipal government actions and ignorance have emboldened and aggravated both the alt right and your everyday racist and homophobe. They continue to harass and criminalize those who defended Pride from bigots. They continue to criminalize trans, non-binary, and queer people amplifying other trans and queer voices!
So to me, their homes should not be off limits.
Where some of you may envision a world of terrifying vigilante justice from that statement, I see a world where accountability outside of the protected public office can suddenly exist. Where a politician is accountable to their constituents every single day instead of every four years.
In fact, that’s what home demos are all about; ensuring the harmful things people do in positions of power can also have lasting impacts on their own personal lives, where they may have less power.
Home demos aren’t even unusual.
A few years ago even the most moderate of trans, non-binary and queer folks celebrated a dance party on Republican Vice President Mike Pence’s lawn. Almost every day I see someone sharing and applauding indigenous people who take drilling equipment to corporate executive’s lawns: You destroy our land, we’ll destroy yours. A couple weeks ago there was even one in Toronto, where individuals re-landscaped the front lawn of a TC-Energy executive to have them feel the impacts of the Coastal Gas Link pipeline project through Wet’suwet’en territory.
Of course, as I sat in jail awaiting a detective it occurred to me that this wasn’t actually about lawn signs.
Because five hours.
Because lawn signs.
Because the detective ultimately asked what he really wanted to know about;
“Tell me about what happened at Pride. Were you there? This is you, isn’t it? Are you in charge? Tell me about The Tower.”
And, finally; “What is an-tee-fah?”
After that interview failed spectacularly (for the detective, don’t worry about me) I was walked to the parking lot by uniformed officers, followed by someone with an assault rifle, and transferred to the downtown station to await bail – followed by another car the whole time.
This is not about lawn signs.
It’s more personal than that; this is about resilience and resistance in the face of ongoing state repression and the rise of the right. It’s about having made Mayor Fred look bad (with plenty of his help). It’s about successfully encouraging people to look beyond police narratives and call attention to and sabotage their public relations efforts, and all the people they have killed, assaulted, or harassed.
It’s about us as a community getting stronger – and them being afraid of that.
We know because within 5 hours they mobilized an investigation, manhunt and takedown.
We know because they confront us with shaking hands and assault rifles.
We know because they responded to a queer dance party with 80 officers on a Friday night.
We see it when they make desperate arrests; Cedar for a speech at city hall. People they think were Pride Defenders. People amplifying queer, trans & non-binary voices.
In that, we can also acknowledge something else; WE are winning.
They are afraid of us and what we can do. They are embarrassed. They are losing ground.
So let’s keep this up. Let’s keep getting into the streets. Into public spaces. Defending each other. Challenging the things that harm us – even when they are institutional and systemic. Let’s make every arrest equal more turmoil. Let’s build towards the world we want to see – and share and learn those skills together. Let’s call those in positions of power – whether city officials or police chiefs or corporate executives – on their shit and hold them accountable.
Not just every four years – but every single day that it affects our fucking lives.
In the streets. In their offices. At their homes.
Everywhere & always.
Fuck the police forever (and ever).
The queer woman they made the mistake of arresting.