Anger into Action: Anti-gentrification attacks this summer in Hamilton

  • Posted on: 21 August 2017
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

The buzz has become impossible to escape. Business associations speak of “renewal”, while expensive restaurants celebrate “revitalization” and local politicians promote “redevelopment” as the city gives large grants to Toronto entrepreneurs to set up shop in town. This is all accompanied by a media blitz presenting Hamilton as a land of opportunity for the rich. With every passing day the meaning of these words becomes painfully obvious – in practice they really just mean increased misery, hardship, and displacement. Real estate agents, property management firms, investors, and business owners amongst others, reap huge profits as many of us who have called Hamilton home struggle to get by in the changing city. This is a fundamental reality of capitalism and is not surprising. What is surprising, is that those who celebrate and profit off gentrification continue to do so openly without regularly feeling the anger of those who their narrow self-interest harms.

This summer, we took a few small actions to remind the profiteers and boosters of gentrification that their presence in our neighbourhoods is unwelcome. Between June and August 2017, we carried out a series of simple attacks against businesses and entities that seek that seek to attract rich people and investors, encouraging the kinds of rapid rent increases that have already displaced thousands of people.

With these actions, we remind ourselves that we're not powerless and that those who profit off our worsening living conditions, even with all their access and power, are still within reach. We don't pretend these attacks will stop gentrification in themselves, but we can at least refuse to greet these profiteers with smiles and break the illusion that what's good for investors is good for all of us. These attacks are easy to do and the list below is just a few that we can claim, but every day we walk around the city and see manifestations of hostility towards both the established local rich and the vultures who have recently descended. It makes us happy to know other people we've never met feel the way we do and by sharing this account we hope to encourage others to turn their anger into offensive action.

Windows were broken at The Butcher and the Vegan and at The Heather, two restaurants on Barton seeking to attract a rich clientele to one of the city's poorest neighbourhoods. Where so many of us are on social assistance getting $600 a month, it's an insult that the creep at The Heather gets tens of thousands of dollars from the city to sell a single meal for $70. We don't care how artisanal your butter is.

The locks were glued and the facades vandalized with paint at the offices of Co-Motion, the branch of Marsales Realty in Westdale, and of the Acclamation condo development on James St. The latter two feel self-explanatory, but Co-Motion deserves a bit more attention. Founded by a prominent local capitalist and slumlord, Co-Motion seeks to attract entrepreneurs and investors to participate in the current redevelopment feeding frenzy. They mask their greed with talk of community and creativity, but their purpose is to recruit for and intensify the processes of gentrification in the city.

The security cameras on Hendry's shoes on Barton St. were vandalized and tags reading “no handouts for yuppies” were left on the windows. The people who are redeveloping that building with funding from the city brag to their potential clients about how the neighbourhood is up-and-coming and gentrifying. This is essentially saying that there are poor people there now, but don't worry, they'll be gone soon and opportunities to make money abound. A large tag reading “Condos are War, Defend the Block” was also left on the front of the former Gibson school on Barton. The people in the neighbourhood fought to keep their school open only to now see it turned into condos that few could ever dream of affording.

It's easy to attack when you give yourself the means. There's still a month of summer ahead and no shortage of deserving targets.

And solidarity to those in Montreal who have been developing a practice of attack against gentrifiers over the past few years!

---

This post was received as an anonymous submission. Can't take any credit for it. For more texts from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada...

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Comments

Paint and related painting equipment is costly. Of course if you know where to look you can dumpster some of it. Bur gasoline and styrofoam are cheaper. Think about that, Lebowski.

Finding and making friends is also quite cheap, even tho there are some related to the anarchist milieus with fancy petty bougie consumer tastes. It's requiring a lot of efforts and skills, especially in highly-political milieus where everything you say will be put under close scrutiny. The anarcho-Left is a religion. When you're a skinny dude in his twenties with a sassy attitude you'll get all the love you don't have the humility to welcome. But I can safely bet that you won't be able to go beyond the costly paint tactics and get peer support, as the people in that religion you were accepted in are in fact cowards who're living at the surface. They talk anarchism but don't really know, or care, what it means to be anarchist or doing anarchy.

That's why we also got the isolated wingnuts, without whom the "anarchism" of the crowd above wouldn't probably even exist. Just like in Xtianity and a few other cults, they need a few crazy uncontrollables, sometimes people they themselves abhor and repress, to carry the saintly deeds, and most likely fall and face years of torture and detention.

Where was I... Oh yeah, economics.

Insurance costs for new business and condo owners will rise significantly in a gentrifying area, when cars or businesses burning for some mysterious reasons are part of the new social reality. Well there will be also a ceetain discomfort or maybe even fear, on the part of those profiting from this process.

Then you'll tell me that the legal costs will be steep for those supporting 1-2 of their Friends who've been caught doing that. But none of your Friends will be pushing that far as to be doing this type of stuff, right? So it ain't much a worry.

Remember? Last time somebody did this in the GTA I think it was the two dudes who arsoned the RBC brand, like 7 years ago. And the sexual violence meme was used to defame them through the media, and nobody has apparently challenged that (afaik), coz the sexual harassment meme has been also your favored tool for internal repressive control. For sure you don't wanna spoil yourselves with those abhorrent Individuals.

So all you need to do, then, is to keep promoting this struggle as the struggle-driving externality, as a general urge to fight, indendently of your elite crowd, so that some people with faith out there may burn shit around, so nobody in your crowd gets thrown into jail for it, and you can collect the bonus points for your imaginary party, do art exhibits about cars burning or whatever, go up the social ladder, and rince and repeat.

So it's an economcally-viable model!

"RBC branch"

Don't interrupt Fauve with your "corrections" when they're rambling incoherently about barely connected things out of context!

It's also cool to see how this dude who hates me (ok, there may be several... I still ain't loved too much in this town) never has anything of substance to provide as arguments, criticism or refutations. Never talking about the ideas, always shooting the messenger. It's like.. do you even have a mind of your own!?

As if every single idea is the original product of a particular individual or group, instead of assumptions and theories emerging from awareness of a context. Like if you eventually get to remove me from your "anarchism" -instead of just keeping me away from your IRL conversations and parties- all these pesky criticism on the shortcomings and frequent foolhardiness of NA anarchists will suddenly crumble and be washed away the next morning....

(btw I do tend to be barely intelligible but that's often due to drunk-posting (which still WAY safer than drunk-driving, no matter how you'd like me to have a really bad car accident) or just convoluted sarcasm made to throw magic dust at your eyes.

"f" is close to "r" on a keyboard. Writing in the dark most of the time... ;-)

"This summer, we took a few small actions to remind the profiteers and boosters of gentrification that their presence in our neighbourhoods is unwelcome..."

And did you also take action to communicate effectively about this to working class and low-income people at large? If you don't do this, then even the best vandalism is simply harmless venting.

Compare this:

http://www.infoshop.org/myep/black-bloc-breaks-some-windows

To this:

http://www.infoshop.org/myep/mission-yuppie-eradication-project

This Keating meme is getting old I think, bra.

There is no singular group of people to communicate to and I'm sure most of them don't care about a constituted struggle against gentrification seeing as many of them are part of the upward mobilizing logic that makes gentrification possible to begin with.

"This Keating meme is getting old I think, bra."

It's not aimed at keeping you entertained, spud. Its an attempt to communicate about substantive matters with those in Hamilton, Ontario, who unlike you are capable of doing something other than whining about your online entertainment needs.

SE provided with decent refutation of that statement in the commemt below yours.

I'll pnky be adding that "the working class" are first and foremost collaborators in any process of gentrification. Even when we're talking of upper-middle-class yuppies, where is the word "yuppie" from, I gotta ask?

From lower-income proles in a social quest for upwards socio-economic mobility. Which is, like, totally the flip side of what you call gentrification. As long as the horizontally widespread drive for accumulation of wealth and power (also called "prosperity" and "security") through the masses isn't sifgnificantly subverted or disrupted by some powerful factor, gentrification of urban environments will continue. You might slow it down in some neighborhood, perhaps even put it to a halt, but the drive for money is something that neither the Keatingites or the Hamilton or Montreal crowds have seriously thought about chalkenging.

*sigh*...

People who are out to us an opposition to gentrification as a foot in the door for a wider anti-capitalist effort should bear the points made here in mind as well:

http://www.infoshop.org/myep/review-dispatches-against-displacement

Keating sure is ONE, TUFF, muthafucka!

But you all should read what I wrote about what I accomplished with the Yuppie Eradication Project.

http://www.infoshop.org/myep/mission-yuppie-eradication-project

Thanks,
Yours in struggle,
Totally (not) Kevin Keating

To those destroying properties thinking this is going to stop progress...you folks need to wake up and find something better to do with yourselves! #getalife

Ya!! Way to go! Let's keep Hamilton a shit hole so I can afford to live comfortably with $600 a month.

After all they provide you with cheap (*cough* underage *cough*) prostitutes, no?

The key point in the three docs linked to above about vandalism as resistance to gentrification in San Francisco's Mission District is that the spectre of vandalism is actually more powerful than the actual property damage.

And if acts of property destruction aren't accompanied by transparently clear language attacking capitalist social relations -- and suggesting clear specific proposals for ongoing public collective direct action -- they can and should be ignored as the temper tantrums that bourgeois conformists make them out to be.

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