I've been excited for May Day for weeks now, which is funny because I won't be able to go to any marches or actions or events this year. Still, just knowing that around the world friends, allies, people I love, people I respect and a whole lot of people I don't know will be standing up against capitalism and austerity measures, for workers and migrants and the poor. . .it all makes me so happy. And I feel like because you're all hitting the streets I am too, even though I'm in jail. it's hard to explain this amazing feeling, and these words certainly aren't doing it justice. maybe this is what being "there in spirit" really means. all I can say is that lately it's been seeming like the world and fences and locked doors that separate us don't mean much of anything. so happy May Day! The state has failed once again :)
The first time I was arrested for a political action was on May Day. it was the late nineties, the Mike Harris years (remember those? Shudder). It was a classic non-violent civil disobedience action called "May Day on Bay", calling attention to poverty and homelessness amidst the wealth and greed of Toronto's financial district. We blocked the intersection of King and Bay - right in the belly of the beast - until the cops hauled us off and charged us with mischief. It was a relaxed and very polite protest, but I remember that it was still a bit scary to get arrested knowingly like that. I also remember how supported I felt by the older and more experienced organizers. I reflect a lot on how much my ability and desire to stand up to the state now owes to the people who were there at the beginning when I had very little confidence and no experience. So if you were part of the action that day, thank you. maybe we could all find some time, on this busy day of anarchism and organizing, to appreciate the anarchists and organizers who came before us. let's commit to learning from their struggles and experiences, and let's take a moment to assess what we are contributing to the experiences of those whose struggles are just beginning. We need the enthusiasm and the fearlessness of youth, but we also need the perspective of those who have been around for awhile. we won't get far if we don't work together.
May Day is about community and continuity, after all. before it became the day of massive protest that we're familiar with it was a community celebration of spring- of hope, and life and renewal. it was about our connection to the land - and which, because we lost it, is at the core of all of our protests against capitalism although we don't always know it. there is a beautiful piece of writing called The witch's child that merges these two aspects of May Day - I hope you can take some time to read it.
Above all else, perhaps, May Day is about freedom. freedom from hunger and exploitation, freedom to associate and to actually live life. So I'd like to end this post with a shout-out to a friend whose freedom has been severely restricted for almost two years and is now in the hands of the sketchy and somewhat arbitrary "justice" system. Kelly Pflug-Back was arrested in relation to the toronto G20 protest in 2010 and has spent a lot of her time since then on very isolated house arrest and strict bail conditions. I don't know much about her situation because despite the fact that we weren't co-accused, she was forced to sign non-association conditions with all of the alleged g20 "co-conspirators" in order to make bail. again, we witnessed the paranoia of the state. what I do know is that she will be sentenced sometime in May, and that people out in the world with internet access know when and where. So please spread the word if you know and find out if you don't, then head to the courthouse and show your support for Kelly. Despite being uprooted from her community, vilified in the media and treated harshly by the police and the court, she has kept her head up - as I knew she would. The Kelly I know is a thoughtful and caring person who, if the world made any sense, would be thanked and celebrated for the amazing work she does. If you don't know her, check out this interview from last March to see what those in power are so afraid of. stay strong, kelly, and remember the words of Marilyn Buck: "They call me an enemy of the state, so I know I must be doing something right".
Love and rage,
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