#Solidarity Fail: Cops and Collaborators Conspire to Isolate Warriors at Vancouver Protest
By Zig Zag, Warrior Publications, Dec 6, 2013
FYI: Here is a very recent and clear example of how police and Native collaborators work in undermining and dividing our movements, while attempting to isolate warriors and other radicals in our ranks.
On Dec 2, 2013, a national day of solidarity with the Mi’kmaq anti-fracking resistance was held (#Shutdown Canada). In Vancouver, the day started at around 7AM with a one hour blockade of the main entrance to the Port of Vancouver. It was a good start in manifesting solidarity for the Mi’kmaq and in the spirit of the call out. This action was carried out by social justice activists, anarchists, and a couple of Native warriors.
Later in the day, a solidarity rally was held in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. This rally was organized by an informal group of Natives. As the people were
gathering at Main and Hastings streets, an as of yet unidentified Vancouver police Sergeant approached the rally and was warmly greeted by Noel Abrahams, a local Haida and a common sight at Native rallies and events in the city (easily recognizable as he often wears a cedar top hat). Abrahams shook hands with the cop and they appeared to exchange greetings.
The cop then approached one of the main organizers, Shannon Hecker, and began to tell her that anarchists in a Black Bloc were gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery to join the march, and that they should isolate anyone wearing masks during the rally. He also offered the services of the Vancouver police in removing these people from the rally should it be requested by the organizers.
At the start of the Dec 2 rally, the crowd of approximately 100 formed a circle around the intersection and blocked all traffic (a standard and routine practise in Vancouver). A few fireworks were set off to the apparent amusement of many in the crowd. Among the speeches and slogans chanted was “United we stand, divided we fall.”
After about 15 minutes, the rally began marching west down Hastings Street. Some more fireworks were set off, and some people called out “Frack the police” (again to the apparent amusement of some in the rally). After marching two blocks, another drum circle was established (at the intersection of Carrall and Hastings street).
At this point, Rhiannon Bennett, a woman from the Musqueam nation whose traditional territory encompasses part of Vancouver, began a speech which demanded that all those wearing masks leave the rally, that masks were not traditional, etc. She also ordered that anyone swearing leave the rally (!), and stated that swearing was also not traditional. She claimed that since we were on Musqueam territory, we all had to abide by her commands.
The police sergeant who started the fear mongering was standing behind a few of the masked warriors at this point, grinning and obviously pleased with his work. He stated that they’d have to leave, that the Musqueam woman was in charge of the rally, and that they had to follow her orders. Instead, the masked warriors in the crowd challenged Bennett and demanded she stop trying to divide the group, reminding the crowd of the slogan they had just minutes ago chanted: “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Some people from within the rally approached Bennett, perhaps to tell her to stop, because at this time the march continued without further harassment. The masked warriors remained with the rally until it reached Waterfront Station, where it circled in the intersection before entering the complex itself (another now-routine action that began with the INM round dances in shopping malls).
At the ending of the event inside Waterfront Station, Noel Abrahams began a speech. He started by publicly thanking the Vancouver police for allowing the protest to march down Hastings Street. He then stated that a cop had requested a song for a Native man who had recently passed away, and invited the officer into the circle.
Here we have a solidarity rally with militant resistance being carried out by Mi’kmaq warriors, some of whom wear masks, that demands those in the rally wearing masks must leave. A solidarity rally with the Mi’kmaq, who are facing near daily violent assaults and arrests at the hands of police, that publicly thanks police and invites them into our circle.
This is a clear example of how police attempt to isolate warriors and their tactic of using Native collaborators (or dupes) from within our ranks to accomplish this task. It also brings up another issue however, and that is how do deal with Natives from the local traditional territory attempting to exert authority over public gatherings.
Protocol Power Trips & Community Collaborators
In Vancouver, it is common practise at the beginning of events or rallies to acknowledge the fact that we are on Coast Salish Territory, and to also have a representative from at least one of the three local communities on which Vancouver is situated (consisting of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil-watuth). This acknowledgement also serves to remind us of the history of colonization, and the reality that this land upon which Vancouver is built is occupied Native territory.
Yet, how are we to deal with an individual from the traditional territory who acts in such a manner? Each situation will be different, but to submit to such demands as a matter of practise is not an acceptable option. Otherwise, cops will just find collaborators from the traditional territory and have them demand that we leave “their” rally or public event. During this incident, warriors challenged this attempt and stayed. Bennett was unable to sway the crowd, and in the end it all came off as little more than an awkward performance from someone with control issues. In truth, it is the work of a collaborator, doing the cop’s work for them and attempting to divide our people by isolating the warriors and radicals within our community.
Just to be clear, there was no Black Bloc at the Art Gallery waiting to intervene and “hijack” the rally. This was an outright lie that the sergeant cop used in his fear mongering and manipulation of a naive and inexperienced organizer (Hecker). More than likely, the cops were fearful that there would indeed be a militant vibe in the rally, considering the context (a solidarity rally with militant Mi’kmaq resistance following a blockade of the Port of Vancouver earlier in the day).
Here is how Hecker summarizes the rally:
“We were taking action–not everyone has to take the same level of action. We shut down the streets and made our point in a peaceful and respectable manner–just as we intended to do. Not gonna let people hijack the event and use it to promote their anti-police hate and anger. We are using positive energy to affect change not negative energy.”
(posting on Noel Abrahams FaceBook page, December 3, 2013)
No one was trying to “hijack” the rally, except the police, a ploy which Hecker and Bennet apparently accepted without question. If the setting off of a few fireworks and the heckling of cops poses such a threat to these two, perhaps they should stop participating in street protests (especially those through the Downtown Eastside, where fireworks are routinely set off and swearing is a commonly practised form of expression).
Hecker is clearly living in a fantasy world, perhaps the product of some New Age-hippie Native spirituality, because in the real world life is comprised of both positive and negative energy. There are no doubt many positive aspects of the Mi’kmaq resistance, as well as negative ones. Will she condemn the Mi’kmaq for using “negative energy,” such as perhaps burning cop cars and tires, in their struggle?
By portraying warriors and radicals as being motivated by some “irrational” hatred of cops and being possessed by “negative energy,” she only helps in the police strategy of demonizing and ultimately isolating them.
The sad scene in Waterfront Station, when Noel Abrahams publicly thanked the cops and invited one into our circle, is further proof of his questionable relationship with police (along with greeting the sergeant at the start of the rally, Abrahams was also seen several times during the march talking with him).
Here is how Abrahams summarized the rally on his FB page on Dec 3rd:
“Well, we went down to attend the Elsipogtog support rally last night… Some radicals attended setting off fireworks & saying they were gonna burn the Kanaduh [sic] flag … All my concern was for the elders & children… They had to be protected. We were there to show support & not take action. There was no respect for neither including the keepers of the land. Musqueam & Squamish were in attendance. Everything happened for a reason & my prayers were answered. My prayers continue… Xaaw7a’A Salaana … Aho.”
The “Kanaduh flag” was brought by a young Native, not wearing a mask, and who had intended to burn it. He was apparently intimidated by organizers, perhaps Abrahams, into not doing so. Abrahams backwards views are clear in his statement which implies that the radicals were a danger to the elders and children, who “had to be protected” because “We were there to show support and not take action.”
It’s difficult to say with certainty, but Abrahams appears to be a very colonized and confused man, despite his (ironic) appearance as a “Native radical” himself. Based on his actions, it’s fair to say that his relationship with the police is one of collaboration. By publicly associating and thanking the police, he helps police infiltrate our community while at the same legitimizing their brutal and violent repression of our people (whether in the Downtown Eastside or in New Brunswick).
These types of collaborators are different from what we usually conceive a collaborator to be, i.e., the infiltrator secretly spying and passing on information to the cops (or the Indian Act band councils). Instead, they are community members who carry out their work in the most public manner, and in this way fulfil a very different role. Yet both are critical to the overall counter-insurgency strategy of the state and its agents of repression.
Posted on December 6, 2013, in Counter-Insurgency, State Security Forces, Warrior and tagged #shutdowncanada, #solidarityfail, collaborators, community collaborators, counter-insurgency, Indigenous resistance, musqueam, Native collaborators, native protests, Noel Abrahams, Rhiannon Bennett, Shannon Hecker, solidarity with Elsipogtog, Vancouver Police, Vancouver Police and Natives, warrior. Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.