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Why I am Willing to be Arrested When They Come to Evict us at at Occuplaza

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

    Why I am willing to be arrested when they come to evict us at at occuplaza...

 

“Have you been to jail for justice? I wanna shake your hand. 'Cus sittin in and lying down are ways to take a stand. Have you sung a song for freedom or marched that picket line? Have you been to jail for justice, then you’re a friend of mine”.

The aforemention lyrics are from a song called “Have you been to jail for justice” by labour folk singer, Anne Feeney

“Power conceded nothing without a demand, it never did and it never will”. This truism must be understood before anyone can truly understand why someone would risk getting arrested for what they believe in.

By using two previous articles of mine and some words I am writing tonight, I want to describe in some detail all my arrests, then give a story of the sentence I served as a result of my last political arrest. Then I'm going to bring it all together into a conclusion in hopes of telling you not only why I am willing to get arrested, but also to let people know that willing to risk arrest for what we believe in as revolutionaries is a key component to being an effective revolutionary.

My first political arrest was at the summit of the Americas, where the OAS was meeting to try and hammer out some agreement where NAFTA would be extended to the whole hemisphere, with the exception of Cuba. It would have affected 800 million people. It would have meant a race to the bottom for countries when it came to environmental rights and workers’ rights. NAFTA's chapter 11 would have extended across the hemisphere, and corporations across the hemisphere would have been able to sue countries if they enacted any kind of legislation that impeded the corporations right to make profit. All you have to do is do a quick search to see what this kind of corporate control has done in North America.

It was Thursday April 17th or 18th 2001. I personally had no idea what to expect, All I know is I had to be in Quebec City to speak with the other voices against this trade agreement which would cement corporate hegemony across the hemisphere.

It was on the morning of the Saturday that I remember waiting in the new part of the city just a couple hundred metres from the security fence. I watched for about 2 hours as people came straggling in from squats, friends' couches, churches, and tents. They came with all their puppets, banners and signs. At that moment all I can remember thinking was Lenin's phrase, "A festival of the oppressed". It was the most beautiful thing I had witnessed. 

It was wonderful, at least until we got to the fence, then they started with the tear gas. We threw many back, but that weekend the security forces used over 1,100 canisters of C-S gas, a gas that is not allowed to be used nation to nation in times of war, according to the Geneva Convention. It also bears mentioning that security forces also used over 500 rubber bullets.

At one point I got pushed back a far distance, but because I had a gas mask on, I was able to help others who's eyes were burning. I had some water that helped ease their pain. Local stores sided with us, and allowed us to fill our water bottles from their taps. 

At one point I found myself in a big cloud of gas, and when it dissipated I was between a group of riot police and a group of protesters. To make a long story short, I got arrested. My gas mask was ripped from me, and I was then led through more tear gas. When I spoke to a nearby journalist, the cops threatened me with violence when I got back to the detention center. I was lucky. I did not get beat up. Other people I met that weekend did get beat up while in detention. Before that moment of arrest, I never thought the state would do that to it's citizens. From that moment on, a lot of my ideas about the state, and the police, and capitalism changed.

Fast foward to fall of 2004...

I started organizing with groups like HCAP (Halifax Coalition Against Poverty) right away when I got to Halifax. We organized a "Buy Nothing Day" street party on Spring Garden Rd. We had about 3 or 4 successful actions until my second political arrest. By the time I was arrested, the cops knew who I was as I was full of piss and vinegar when I moved to Nova Scotia, and not afraid of anything. I thought we were in the embryonic stages of a mass movement here in Halifax

HCAP had planned to have a squat at the old library/police station building in Dartmouth. We hired a bus to take the squatters and their supporters over to the squat. 8 of us went into the abandoned building, and I was amazed at how beautiful it was. I thought we would stay for weeks, and make our demands for affordable housing known. Unfortunately, the police were directed to arrest us.

My next arrest happened at the HCAP robin hood action and what follows is what I wrote about it back then...

So, HCAP organized a protest against a Conservative fundraiser, a $5000 per table (or $500 a plate) event. Speakers at the event included Preston Manning, Mike Harris, Ralph Kline, and John Ham. It was a veritable who's who of right-extremist Conservatives from across the country. It no doubt was intented to send a message to Nova Scotians that the Conservatives in this province are intent on pushing a more right-wing agenda, and a more Harper-esque mode of government. At the time, HCAP made five demands:

1) Double social assistance rates. Right now, Nova Scotians on social assistance receive $5,422 a year. The poverty line has been set at $18,000. You do the math.

2) Implement the “1% solution”, whereby 1% of the public funds would go toward affordable housing. Too many people in our province live either on the streets, on friends’ couches, or in inadequate accommodations. Implementation of the 1% solution would go a long way in reducing poverty.

3) Rent control!! Nova Scotia had rent control up until 1993. Many people in the HRM and across our province get evicted every year because their rent is too expensive. Many Nova Scotians sacrifice quality food for their children in order to pay rents set by unscrupulous landlords, both corporate and individual. Rent controls would help to alleviate gentrification that is slowly destroying the North end of Halifax.

4) A $9 dollar minimum wage. With wages failing to keep pace with inflation, more and more people have to work longer hours. They sacrifice time with their families; children are lacking an opportunity to grow up spending time with their parents; and friends lack the time to come together for cultural events. The list goes on.

5) Last but not least: Free post-secondary education.

These were modest reforms that HCAP was demanding, which would have brought dignity and equality, while lessening poverty, in our communities. And the response? We were beaten, pepper sprayed, and thrown in jail by the cops. Nova Scotians need to ask themselves, and their government, why citizens of this province are faced with repression and imprisonment for fighting for community justice?

After that I got arrested while at a court support for cole webber. I was charged with associating with a comrade I was under conditions not to associate as a result of my last arrest. Even though their evidence was just cops from a window inside, and we were not even arrested together, which if we truly were associating, you have to wonder, why we were not arrested together. because the court system is collapsing at the seems and the incentive to take a deal is so ubiquitious and I needed to get out of jail to find a  job to make rent, I took a plea for a fine of 100 dollars. With regards to pleas and the business of the courts(they make alot of money to justify paper pushing jobs)you do not realize how many innocent people actually have their lives ruined because they take pleas even though they are not guilty. If you are not scared from the police treatment during and after arrest, the court system usually sucks what little life you have left and often pleas are had cus people just want it all to end

 

My next arrest was later in the fall of 2008, I got my brothers family a Christmas present and I was walking up agricola to show my sister. 2 bike cops stopped me and asked to see I.D and I said am I under arrest, they said that I was being detained cus I fit the profile of someone, when I asked who, they said they could not inform me cus it was part of an investigation. I said if you cannot tell me then I am not going to give you my I.D. They arrested me and once they picked me up of the side walk, out of the blue, showed up a black bmw with tinted windows which was an undercover car that they pushed me up against the hood and twisted my wrist to the point where it almost broke. I got off on that one but still had to go through being arrested going to the police station being photographed, finger printed and harassed by the cops down there. My last arrest was when I was back to finish our trial for the atlantica charges(still waiting of the sentencing,2 and a half years later) I was said to be drunk but did not have a drink. It was like 20 minutes after they tried to enter illegally a house we were having a party at and me and friends did not let them in. Besides these arrests, I have been followed by marked cars u, undercover police, I have been harassed by cops outside my work, etc. The Halifax regional police have not made my life easy in halifax. not because I speak my mind, I am free to do that, but because I was successful in mobilizing people. I did not tie anyone up or force them to accept my ideas but I did inspire them by walking the talk and as a result from 2004 to 2007 more and more people were starting to look critically at the government and were beginning to mobilize to resist against tyranny and oppression. I am not saying I was the only one organizing but I was courageously organizing.”

 

Next is the story of my prison sentence.

 

 

"prison is one of the most apt representations of capitalism in that it is a heartless institution where it's cancerous conditions of heartlessness attempt to destroy any heart, love and beauty that fall into it's tyrannical grip. If we are to build a world of love, beauty, compassion and mutual aid, then prisons must be abolished"!!! - Aaron Doncaster

 

The above quote of mine is one I wrote while I was serving a 15 day sentence at the Dartmouth correctional center for a breach of an undertaking.

 

It all started on march 3rd while I was at a protest organized by the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty. We were protesting a fundraiser being held by the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia. The protest was our attempt to hold the PC party of N.S to account for their abysmal record of ignoring the oppressed and marginalized of Nova Scotia.The protest ended with 3 arrests, including myself. I wrote my reflections on that night and you can find that article at http://maritimes.indymedia.org/news/2007/05/17254.php

 

As a condition for getting out of jail on the evening of March 3rd, I was forced to sign an undertaking saying I would not go within 150 meters of the World Trade and convention center. There are 2 troubling questions about this incident that need to be asked. The first question that begs to be asked is, why was I forced to sing an undertaking after I was subjected to a known neurotoxin? symtoms of neurotoxicity may include limb weakness or numbness, loss of memory, vision, and/or intellect, uncontrollable obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors, delusions, headache, cognitive and behavioral problems and sexual dysfunction(US Army study on pepper spray, 1993). If you ask either of the other 2 people arrested with me if I exhibited any of these symptoms after I was peppersprayed, they would say yes. The second question is, If the right for protesters to be seen and heard has been upheld by such figures as Ted Hughes, chief commisioner of the 1998 APEC inquiry and our charter of rights and freedoms is suppose to protect the right to peaceful assembly,why was a freedom that is entrenched in the charter and upheld by courts and an inquiry, taken away from me??

 

On June 15th 2007 durring the protest for which I got arrested, as I walked close to the trade center, I new I was breaching my undertaking that I singed on march 3rd. I also new that the forced signing of the undertaking while experiencing symptoms of neurotoxicity as a result of being assulted with a chemical agent by a police officer, was unethical, immoral and a quintessential representation of the criminalization of dissent too often felt by those struggling for a more compassionate, cooperative and egalitarian society.I had masked up for the protest, hoping to avoid being kidnapped by the police but I think the sound of my voice may have given me away. I tried to escape when they found out it was me but there were cops everywhere and I had nowhere to go.

 

as a result of my arrest, I was charged with 3 offenses, 1) masked with intent 2) breach of an undertaking and 3) unlawful assembly. The masked whit intent was dropped and I was found not guilty for the unlawful assembly but I plead guilty to the breach of an undertaking

 

throughout the whole process, I was set apart from all the other aresstees with the exception of Asef who also was signaled out as a "key trouble maker". As we were sent from the police jail to the correctional center for remand until our court date on the following Monday, Asef and I weer sent over ourselves with another individual who was unrelated to the protest. After he started to talk to us a remembered his voice. he was in a cell next to me during another stay in jail and had tried to pull a bunch of information out of me. To get ready for the trip over, I was the only one in shackles and while at the correctional centre I faced taunts by the warden about his and the cops suspicion that I was a leader of some criminal gang. during the trial, the idea of me being a leader was brought up by a cop and an undercover had testified that they had been watching me since 2002.

 

It is in this context, along with the judges disdain for those who commit breaches that the sentence of jail time must be understood. understanding myself as someone who is a committed anarchist who refuses to be dissuaded from my belief that capitalism and the state both must be abolished if we want to build a more compassionate and caring society,I expected to serve some jail time. I have dealt with the police and the state through their court system many times; I have a good idea as to how they deal with anarchists, anti-capitalists, anti-authoritarians and other radicals.

 

My first night I pulled the fire alarm/spinkler system in order to get moved to a lock down rang where I would be let out for one hour a day by myself. the first night, I was told that if I did not pull the fire alarm/sprinkler then the inmates would "get" me. I did not know if that was a euphemism for mental, physical or sexual assault so I took no changes. while in the lockdown range, I was locked down for 24 hours straight for 3 additional days then the normal 24 hours lockdown that all inmates go through.

 

When I first got out for my "hour", I had a 10 minute shower and was then told my the alpha male inmate, that I must get back in. It was not until Tuesday that I got my pin # so I could call friends on the outside. I called a couple friends from Tuesday until Thursday. Because the correction center doesn't release anyone on the weekend I was released on the Friday, a day short two-thirds of my sentence.

 

There were many things I thought of in jail but I must say the most important thing I thought of was our collective need to abolish prisons once and for all. with that being said, one must understand that the prisons we create in ourselves are the most important prisons that we must destroy. We as humans often hide away the pain and sorrow along with other feeling, especially fear of memories or ideas of who we are and what we have experienced. It takes alot of love and courage to break down those prison walls and until we do, we will not be prepared to fight effectively against the prisons and the tyranny that the authorities impose upon us. It is only in having the courage to overcome our internal barriers that we will find the love to smash the external barriers such as  the dictatorship of capitalism and the state

 

We all have the courage that is necessary to build a better world, but we need to work together and help one another in the journey to finding that courage. When we work together to abolish those internal prisons that divide ourselves from ourselves,both individually and collectively, then we will find the power, courage and love to build a new world based on cooperation, compassion and mutual aid. Let us move onwards to victory!!!!

in solidarity with political prisoners everywhere, Aaron Doncaster”

 

Now that you have got a small glimpse of my life as a revolutionary, I want you all to know that I am not posting this article to brag or be egotistical. I will not be getting any punk points for this and as of yet I have had nobody offer to have a hero cookie baked for me.

 

When I was born, I nearly died due to complications as a result of being pre-mature. My lungs collapsed, I went without oxygen for a significant amount of time and suffered slight brain damage as a result. Out of all the doctors that told my mom I would always be slow, there was one doctor who said that with a lot of support and a lot of pushing, the brain can heal itself

 

My family and my community taught and conditioned me to be courageous and I feel it is my obligation to give back by “teaching courage” to others.

 

Also I learned a lot about love in my church. I grew up in the catholic church and my best memories are of the years that we had a priest who practiced a form of liberation theology. His masses were short and less about form and procedure and more about love, especially the kind of love that was prominent in the stories of the acts of the apostles.

 

As I got older, I realized that the love that I learned about and experienced in my church did not exist in the world outside the church. This caused me to be angry and depressed and I spent many years in my late teens and early twenties trying to find that love in sex, drugs and alcohol. Needless to say, I did not find love there. After first moving to Halifax in 1999 I was inspired to go to a meeting after seeing a poster on a telephone pole proclaiming that capitalism was the problem. Since then I have been a revolutionary and I have found love again.

 

I do not want to force love onto anyone, however, the fact is we lack the institutions in our society that will allow people to experience real love. Love is courageous and fearless and with love in our hearts we can go forwards fearlessly to build those institutions that are needed in society that will allow love to blossom. It is our loving and fearless works that will make love grow stronger and give others the opportunity to accept love. Love is worth getting arrested for. Love is worth dying for and love with its works, is all we need!!!! Let us move forwards together with courageousness and fearlessness in this wonderful revolution, this wonderful evolution, this wonderful lovealution!!! Long live the revolution, long live the evolution and long live the lovealution!!!!!

                                                             With love, Aaron Doncaster

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