Theft, direct action, solidarity
(Pour le texte en français: http://contreletat.tumblr.com ) Today is July 1st, the day when the founding of the state of Canada is celebrated. We have chosen this day to announce that over the past months we have stolen and freely redistributed a number of quality objects and food obtained from bourgeois stores to marginalized individuals and families from oppressed communities in Montreal, occupied Kanien’kehá:ka territory. This text is to explain why we have done this, to express solidarity with related actions, and to encourage others to continue taking similar initiatives.
We publish this text on Canada Day because we are against all states, and in particular, against the violence of settler colonial states like Canada that are founded on genocide of indigenous nations, and on racist exclusion and exploitation of non-white people. We believe the well being of the majority of the world depends on fighting against industrial and imperial states like Canada that are the main promoters and beneficiaries of global capitalism. This is why we are breaking the laws of this state, stealing from capitalist businesses, and redistributing goods to communities who are being actively oppressed by this system. Theft is a direct action that so many of us carry out in our daily lives, to get what we need and want from a system that refuses to share. This time we have done it collectively and intentionally, as part of a broader struggle against oppression, and for freedom and self-determination for everyone.
We have been inspired by recent struggles that are both politically and geographically near to us, and we would like to express our solidarity with the brave actions we see all around. First, from Indigenous nations and communities continuing their centuries long struggles of for survival and defence of water, land and life. Algonquins against condo development along the Ottawa river, Innus against the hydroelectric damming of Muskrat Falls, Ojibway for the cleanup of mercury contamination at Grassy Narrows, and Mohawks of Kanehsatà:ke continuing to prevent any niobium mining in their community. There have been numerous occupations in recent months of government offices by those fighting state killing and complicity in the deaths and violence against oppressed communities. The Black Lives Matter occupation in front of the Toronto police headquarters, the indigenous occupations of numerous INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) offices in solidarity with Attawapiskat, and the Solidarity Across Borders occupation of CBSA offices here in Montreal against the violence of immigrant deportation and detention.
We are equally inspired by the daily resistance of those struggling for dignity and survival in less visible ways without a ‘legal identity’, such as those who are undocumented, criminalized, homeless.
Finally, we applaud the impressive direct action by anti-gentrification looters in the Montreal neighbourhood of Saint-Henri who collectively expropriated thousands of dollars of food from a gentrifying grocery store. They are close to us not just in terms of their politics and geography, but also their choice of tactics. The forced displacement and marginalization of neighbourhood residents by gentrification is the direct result of the capitalism of urban real estate markets. Looting and attacks on gentrifying businesses is an important way of fighting back, alongside the numerous campaigns, actions, and organizing that have been challenging gentrification across Montreal for many years.
The Saint-Henri action was successful at drawing a large amount of media attention and public discussion to the issue of gentrification. Throughout this discussion, there have been arguments made to which we would like to respond. Some argue that gentrification is caused by big real estate developments, therefore small businesses should not be targeted. This stubbornly ignores the reality that although the condos are the driving force behind gentrification, the process is also facilitated and reinforced by the expensive new stores catering to the condo dwellers, the police that protect them, and the city government that gives their stamp of approval in exchange for a cut of the profits.
Others agree with opposing gentrification, but do not support illegal tactics like the looting of a gentrifying business. In response, we argue that the connected systems that we are struggling against, including gentrification, Canada, and global capitalism, inflict terrible violence and misery around the world every day, and have been doing so for hundreds of years. To survive means to stop and destroy these systems. It is a massive undertaking, one that is carried out daily by so many, and it is one of the most important things we can do on this planet. You say we have gone too far with our illegal actions? We say that we have not gone nearly far enough. Breaking a few laws is the least we can do. We hope for everyone’s sake that together we are able to do so much more, using whatever means are required.
In love and solidarity with all those in struggle!