Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Notes from the Seattle Anarchist Bookfair, Oct 17-18

by Kristin
Aggressor Accountability
Panel Description
Aggressor Accountability is a group dedicated to survivor defined support after an assault or abusive behavior takes place. Our workshop demonstrates the ways in which communities and specific community members can hold aggressor’s accountable and challenge them to grow while simultaneously supportively responding to survivors. It runs at about an hour or so.

· Discussion of pronouns – he, she, they – and which pronouns people prefer to use
· Acknowledgment of complexity of gender, trans folks, male-assigned people, female-assigned people
· Who the group is, why they were formed – formed in response to a situation in another community. Very new organization, can’t share case stories yet
· Use of terms “survivor” and “aggressor”
· Sexual violence as a power thing
· Role of community in addressing sexual violence. Very powerful group activity: Handed out cards for people to read. Mock situation where someone had been sexually attacked, and the things often said by intimate partner, police officer, parent, friend, bystander. First time around, it was clear how often the community makes it worse for the survivor. Second time around, it was clear how a community could be supportive.
· Also some role-playing of ways the community can communicate with the aggressor in the most effective way
· Discussion of where a survivor turns. Sometimes police, most often a close friend. That’s why a community-based response is needed.
· Discussion of times police involvement may make the situation worse, such as with queer/trans folks.
· Discussion of accountability process and survivor’s role in it.
· Acknowledgment that each situation is different and needs to be handled differently – no “one size fits all” procedure
· Discussion of how the whole community is affected by an act of violence.
· Discussion of violence in intimate partner relationship, cycle of anger. Look at who has more power, who has less. It may change.
· Question about “what about the really violent people.” Answer: this is a toolkit, but not a solution for everything. Who knows what solutions may become available.

Transformative Justice
For Crying Out Loud, Common Action, and others

Panel Description:
Transformative Justice is a radical strategy of response to conflict, a revolutionary alternative to the on-going violence and oppression of the State’s criminal justice system.

As an analysis, it takes seriously conflict’s place within systems of oppression. As a practice, it strives to put justice in the hands of the communities directly involved.

A panel featuring members of For Crying Out Loud, Common Action, and others, will discuss their perspectives on Transformative Justice, how it differs from other forms of justice, their groups’ successes and difficulties in applying it, and its relevance to anarchists. The panel will then be opened to Q & A and general discussion.

For Crying Out Loud is a group dedicated to preventing, addressing, and talking about sexual assault and perpetrator accountability in an anti-authoritarian setting. For a lot more info go to: http://forcryingoutloud206.wordpress.com

Common Action is a regional anarchist organization in the Northwest United States with members representing the cities of Seattle, Bremerton, Tacoma, and Olympia. Check out http://www.nwcommonaction.org for more info.”

Presentation and Discussion

· Touched on ideas from aggressor accountability panel.
· Discussion of terms “survivor” and “aggressor,” and how we are all survivors and aggressors at one time or another.
· Each situation is very different and needs to be handled differently.
· An accountability process that Common Action is going through right now. A situation came up before Common Action had any experience or plans for an accountability process. Common Action developed an accountability process mostly from reading texts from Gen5 and others.
· Common Action member pointed out that in every activist community he’s worked with, some kind of situation has come up and divided the community. Even if we don’t divide the community ourselves, it is a point of vulnerability where someone could come and intentionally do it.
· Work on accountability is not something that distracts us from our real work, it is our real work.
· An accountability process as an act of love for the aggressor. Sticking with it shows we care.
· How to make sure an accountability process follows a person from one group or city to another.
· Common Action wants to share their work on accountability with other activist groups.

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