Posted By Sandra Alland

 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Footage of police illegally raiding, detaining, arresting, attacking protesters & journalists:
28 June:
Police open fire on peaceful protesters

28 June: 18-year-old describes deploring jail conditions, including gay segregation

27 June: Protesters, journalists and others barricaded and arrested

Police kidnappings

Police Fire Muzzle Blast at Protesters

National Post photographers violently arrested

26 June: Police raid house without warrants

Illegal searches near park

The passing of secret laws that were purposefully misinterpreted and abused:

29 June: Police admit lying
25 June:
Secret laws

Footage & articles about police impersonating or possibly impersonating protesters, especially anarchists:

29 June: Alleged police provacateurs, including clear evidence of one "anarchist" being allowed behind police lines

25 June: Do you know who Che Guevara is?

23 August 2007: Police admit impersonating activists


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

"Pretending that all violence is the same is very convenient for supposedly anti-violence privileged people who benefit from the violence of the state and have much to lose from the violence of revolution." - Peter Gelderloos, How Nonviolence Protects the State (South End Press, 2007)

So much to discuss... I've been really disheartened, not only by the extreme police/state brutality in Toronto during the G20, but also by the simplistic and depressing conversations among otherwise intelligent people about how protesters were "violent" when they allegedly burned abandoned police cars and broke windows of banks and Starbucks, and therefore somehow a) ruined the "success" of the peaceful protests (which were actually unsuccessful because they happened in a police state) and b) justified the extreme police violence, kidnappings, illegal searches, illegal arrests of 1000 people, sexual assault of women activists, segregation of queer prisoners, racial profiling, abuse of people with disabilities, abysmal conditions in illegal jails, denial of access to legal counsel, possible impersonation of anarchists by police officers, and blatant misleading of the public that occurred both before and after windows were broken.

Why would we want to isolate our allies for using different tactics from us? Why would we leave them open to further assault, when they have just marched by our side and in some cases protected us from violent and illegal behaviour by our government and police? (And when it's highly likely that the vandalism mentioned above was in fact instigated by undercover police?) Many people have been more adamant about emphasizing how peaceful *their* protest was (in comparison to activists who may have broken windows), than about condemning the horrific actions of the G20 countries and of their police force(s). This serves only to entrench media and state stereotypes about the "hooliganism" of anarchists who are in fact an important, intelligent and integral part of struggles against oppression.

There's much more to be said about all of this, and it's not a simple or easy dialogue. For now, I leave you with some links to further assess the situation for yourself...

M. NourbeSe Philip on the G20, violence & race: http://www.rabble.ca/news/2010/07/observations-g20-march-queen%E2%80%99s-park-congo

Professor David McNally discusses anarchy & Black Bloc tactics on the CBC: video.ca.msn.com/watch/video/the-black-bloc/16aqkxltm

Amy Miller from The Alternative Media Centre on her illegal arrest and being threatened with gang-rape by police: vimeo.com/12925239

The Globe on misleading the public:

Police admit "weapons" seized from activists are unrelated to G20: m.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/toronto/weapons-seized-in-g20-arrests-not-what-they-seem/article1622761/

 


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

I'm trying to make my blog more accessible to the visually impaired by using a bigger font, but my stupid provider, Doteasy, first of all limits the number of words I can use in a blog entry (annoying), and secondly limits the words according to their size (bigger font = shorter entries only). So if I want to be accessible I'm not allowed to say very much. For more info on the annoyances of digital accessibility (for creators and visitors of sites) go to the blog of deaf and disabled artist, Alison Smith.

Here's an excellent article by Jennie Kermode on the ongoing problems regarding the reported censorship of Dani Marti's work by Glasgow Culture and Sport.www.eyeforfilm.co.uk/feature.php

In other news, I promised more thoughts on great Canadian stuff I've been reading. So next in line is Stuart Ross's new book of short stories, Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books). I love this book. I devoured it in a couple of hours, then read it again. Each story is a bizarre, surreal voyage. As usual, Ross moves you from the hilarious to the tragic in two words, and leaves you not quite sure how you ended up crying. I especially love "Three Arms Less" (an unusual meditation on war and race), "Me and the Pope" (where the Pope comes to crash at Ross's apartment during his visit to Toronto), and "Language Lessons... with Simon and Marie!" (a parody on learning a foreign language, in a war zone). The book has numerous references to war and its absurdities, particularly the Contras and Nicaragua, that leave you with a chill. I said "as usual" above, but perhaps actually Ross's short stories are emotionally scarier than his poetry, and not less funny exactly (because they are still really funny), but a more edgy kind of funny. A funny with something waiting behind it you're not sure you're ready for...

Speaking of war zones, I watched El Norte, the 1983 independent film by Gregory Nava, about two indigenous Guatemalans who flee to Mexico, then the United States, after their family is slaughtered for planning a strike. It's a stunning film, and shows the brutalities illegal immigrants face to get to, and then also survive in, the supposed Land of the Free. It's sad to see how little has changed... if it weren't for the production values I wouldn't necessarily have known I was watching a film from 25 years ago.

xox


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art has been the centre of much drama this year. A quick background to catch you up:

1. The LGBTI exhibition for Sh[OUT], GoMA's fourth Social Justice programme and exhibition, started last spring. There was some mild "outrage" from crap "media" The Daily Mail (like the Enquirer in North America, only local crap reporting), about a Robert Mapplethorpe photo from the 1970s being "pornography." This was no shock, as such papers always write this kind of shite. Nonetheless, GoMA and the Council took it VERY seriously. Which was perhaps the beginning of the problems which have compounded until now.

2. Glasgow City Council also banned all minors and schools (including high schools!) from seeing the exhibition, which -- let's be frank -- is really quite tame. People showed up in droves because of the "shocking" works, only to leave somewhat bewildered and disappointed. LGBTI high school students missed an opportunity to feel they are humans (including an exhibition by LGBT Youth Scotland).

3. Made In God's Image opened in the summer, an LGBTI work by various artists and religious groups from Scotland. One work by a lesbian Christian minister invited people to "write themselves back" into the Bible. Some visitors wrote rude things, mostly people criticised religion for denying them human rights. But the Daily Mirror reported that people were being invited to "deface" the Bible. Several right-wing Christian groups, without having seen the show, protested and threatened staff at GoMA, and wrote hate mail to the artists and gallery. In total, GoMA received the small number of 650 letters of complaint, the majority from people who had NEVER SEEN THE SHOW. Several other crap newspapers picked up the story, exaggerating it slightly more each time. Perhaps most importantly, several city councillors received letters and panicked.

GoMA responded by removing the "offensive" pages, placing the Bible under glass, and also posting a sign: "This work may be offensive to some." This is the first time in the history of the gallery that it has modified a work of art. Can it be a coincidence that this took place with an LGBTI work?

(Side note: In the Rendering Gender exhibit one floor down, the comments book  began to fill up with hate-notes against queers and trans people, but nothing was done to censor these comments and they remained until the end of the show...)

4. This brings us to Dani Marti's autumn exhibition, which was to focus on older gay men and issues around HIV and homosexuality in Scotland. The Council, and Culture and Sport Glasgow (who own GoMA), put pressure on GoMA, who in turn decided not to show Marti's films. See this Herald article for some background. They felt it was "bad timing" and that they could not show films that discussed "drugs," sex and HIV. Never mind the audience that might desperately need to see these films. The decision was made that the works MIGHT offend...and who we are not sure... The Daily Mail? The same Christians who were offended by the last work (even though this new work has nothing to do with religion)?

This is the kind of anti-queer hysteria I thought we had battled against (and won) in the 1980s. It is a huge betrayal of the LGBTI community's trust to create a safe space, a "social justice" program, for them -- and then to capitulate to homo- and trans- phobia without a real fight. More news as it comes in. xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Yesterday, for the first time since moving to Scotland, I set foot in the evil empire of a Borders bookshop. It was raining, and I was curious. I'm sure most of you already understand the general yuck factor of corporate bookstores -- how they homogenize and censor our choice of books, how they use unfair practices to put small indie bookshops and publishers out of business, how they do nothing to promote local writers or writers who are not superstars, how they don't promote community events etc etc.

But.

I have to say I was stiill a little shocked that  they didn't have a single lesbian or gay magazine on their shelves. No Diva. (Note: I later found out they did stock Diva, it was just out of stock). No Curve. No nothing. The only thing I found was a copy of Bust feminist magazine. It's not that I think these magazines are fantastic, but if even mainstream expressions of gayness are banned from a GIGANTIC (and I mean gigantic) bookshop/music shop/film shop/Starbucks/stationery & gift shop smack in the middle of Scotland's biggest city, then what of the rest of the country? I'm constantly amazed by the shameless corporate homophobia here. I mean, Blockbuster in Canada sucks huge and offends me with their "Alternative Lifestyle" section, but at least the movies are still there. Here, there is nothing that might offend. Well, all those straight marriage magazines offend *me*...

Also surprising to me was that all Glasgow schools are banned from going to the Sh[OUT] exhibition at the GoMA, even high school students! Because of its gay content. There has been much broohaha specifically about a Robert Mapplethorpe photo FROM THE 70S of a guy urinating towards another man's mouth. It's actually an artistically gorgeous photo, whether or not you're into yellow...

Anyway, more on that later perhaps. But right now I'm on bookshops. So what is a poor queer and/or leftie to do in Scotland? Sadly, there are very few indie bookshops that aren't second-hand. But even sadder is the fact that I have yet to come across an indie bookshop here that is anywhere near as radical as they claim to be (except Biz'Art at The Forest which is nonprofit and only partially a bookshop). And according to a woman at Citizen's Advice, statistics show that as an employee you are more likely to get fair treatment from Borders. Sad, sad, sad.

A further note on fair treatment: For those of you out there who have disabilities and bad work situations, contact Access To Work, it's a Job Centre program that has been set up to assist people with disabilities (and their employers) by giving money towards making a workplace accessible.

Okay, my voice-activated software is being funny again, so I have to run.

xox

 

 

 


 

 

 
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