In less than 10 seconds, the time it takes for a firebomb to be launched and explode, the tone of the upcoming G8/G20 protests in Canada has changed.
In the aftermath of the RBC branch fire bombing in Ottawa, many concerns have been raised regarding the identity and affiliation of those responsible for the 3:30 am attack and how that actions will blow back upon the activist community. Because let me assure you, it will.
There is now blood in the water, despite the fact that no one was hurt in the early morning explosion in the Glebe neighbourhood of Ottawa.
The challenge is now how the activist community manages this situation, which will have the greatest impact of any upcoming actions: as activist key up for the G8 and G20 Summits being in held in Ontario in June.
Regarding the act of arson itself, the RCMP confirmed late Wednesday afternoon that A Division's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team is assisting with the investigation, led by Ottawa police. Whether terrorism charges will be added to arson is still unclear, it has been hinted to.
The scope of this warning seems to purposefully extend beyond the 3-4 individuals involved to include the larger activist community in general, creating the kind of internal chill that first strikes the spine and then spreads outwards.
It would be irresponsible for the activist community to simply ignore this kind of behaviour as if a fire bombing can be compared to a three year old throwing a tantrum in a shopping mall. There is now blood in the water, and this is a reality the activist community has to face. The group FFFC - Ottawa has promised in their manifesto that more attacks will follow leading up the G8/G20 protests in June 2010.
Whether this occurs or not, what kind of legitimacy does the activist community have if a second fire bombing occurs and no one stepped up firm and bold to denounce the first one; make clear to all that direct action does not include terrorism, that the communities whom this group claims to represent don't under any terms want this kind of solidarity and support.
As the saying goes, "evil prevails when good people do nothing." And if that is the standard that the activist community holds to the capitalist class, then that must also be the standard we hold in our own hearts when we deal with each other.
Groups are now coming forward with statements and reactions. While I do believe the reaction from the larger social justice community is important. I do believe it is more important to hear first to the council from the different First Nations activist group who are actively engaged in the struggle.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) released a statement late Wednesday concerning the Royal Bank of Canada Firebombing. Co-signed by Tom Goldtooth (Executive Director) and Clayton Thomas-Muller (Tar Sands Campaigner) it reads the IEN, "is an Indigenous led environmental and economic justice organization that supports community led strategies that enable Indigenous Peoples to continue to maintain the sacred fires of our traditions and to protect our lands and cultures from corporate exploitation and toxic contamination.
First Nations in Canada's tar sands have been waging an effective, transparent non-violent campaign against RBC and their dirty investments. The Indigenous Environmental Networks supports strategic non-violent direct action that is lead by impacted communities."
Red Power United will also be releasing a statement soon: http://www.redpowerunited.com
I also believe the activist community should be cautious. We don't yet know the identities of those involved in the fire bombing. In a written manifesto signed by a group calling itself the FFFC, and according to the Ottawa police, both are labelling these individuals as anarchists, but there are too many questions to rush into answers.
The public simply does not know, though the media is reporting that the Ottawa police are close to tracking down the subjects.
There are questions being asked, answers sought. Who or what is the FFFC?
Perhaps they are what some activists are whispering about: the spectre of "agent provocateurs" like what occurred at the SPP protest in Montebello, Quebec, August 20, 2007?
Perhaps they are urban, white teenage boys taking up a cause without a connection to the community that is most affected?
History shows that it is usually the most marginalized in our society that suffers the greatest under the weight of a White Man's Burden as saviours.
The most ugly of answers regarding who actually fire bombed the RBC bank in Ottawa lives in the dark heart of both the First Nations community and the social justice community in Canada. If these anarchists are ever caught and they are unmasked in public, what will the reaction of the First Nations community be if confronted with faces that look exactly like them, when faces become mirrors?
Either way, the truth will certainly come out. And how the activist community reacts to that truth will be the true test of its character.
Listening to the wisdom of elders is important:
"No matter what they ever do to us, we must always act for the love of our people and the earth. We must not react out of hatred against those who have no sense." - John Trudell