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Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Surrounded#6: “Tomorrow I’ll care about someone who isn’t my friend”

Posted on | November 22, 2010 | 1 Comment


jonahhundert6 Surrounded#6: Tomorrow I’ll care about someone who isn’t my friend

Photograph of Jonah Hundert by John Packman for Colony of Losers

Jonah Hundert was walking past the corner of Dovercourt and College when he heard police sirens.  It was only a few weeks after he was released from Eastern Avenue detention center.

Caught by surprise he turned away from his friends and struggled to breathe. His stomach was queasy with adrenaline and fear.  He felt like he was going to puke.

He reminded himself that everything was okay and there was nothing to worry about.

His body didn’t acknowledge his mind’s justifications. The car drove by and nothing happened.

This had happened before and would happen again. For months afterwards whenever he walked past a cop or heard a helicopter fly by the same nervous fear would appear, slowly replaced with an anger entirely foreign to his nature.

He hates being scared. As a naturally gentle person he found himself filled with a rage that didn’t go away.

The Toronto Police department weren’t done with the Hundert family.

His brother Alex Hundert and his partner Leah Henderson were released on $100,000 bail agreement under the conditions that they couldn’t attend demonstrations or associate with their political contacts. As AWOL and No One Is Illegal have no members list this meant pretty much everyone they knew. The police tried to put Alex in jail when he discussed the G20 in interviews with the media. For once, the courts ruled against the police.

On September 17, 2010 Alex Hundert attended a panel discussion on the fallout from the G20 protests at Ryerson University. He mentioned that the police had infiltrated their organization in a year and a half long operation.  As he finished his speech he said, “It’s really important for people to never give up, never surrender and never stop trying to fight. I hope that the cops in the audience don’t try to arrest me.”

When he reached his parent’s home that night the cops arrested him.

The police decided he was breaking his bail agreement, classifying his participation in the panel as attending a demonstration. The police kept him in jail for four weeks until the courts agreed with them.

The conditions of Alex Hundert’s re-release included a full on ban on all political expression.

Alex told the court that he would rather stay in jail then agree to having his freedom of expression taken away.

24 hours later he was free on bail.

Jonah told the press that prison officials threatened to keep Alex in solitary confinement without access to a phone call, lawyers or any of his property if he didn’t accept the terms.

Since Jonah’s time in Eastern Avenue he has become more involved with fundraising, demonstrations and joining the resistance his brother has been arrested for.  Much of his time is spent in bail court with his brother.

Defendants are kept in jail until their trial, which could be delayed for as long as two years. He has watched defendants plead guilty to lesser charges to spend less time in prison then they would awaiting trial for their alleged crimes. It became obvious to Jonah that the abuses at Eastern Avenue aren’t an aberration but rather a symptom of a syndrome that runs rampant in the criminal justice system.  20 hours without due process can easily become two years spent in jail for a crime they haven’t yet convicted you of.  Justices of the Peace preside rather than judges. Like Security substituting for police inside Eastern Avenue so that we can believe the incompetence rests with the bureaucrats rather than the system itself. Only the inmates don’t lose property bags, they lose years.

“Everyday the police sweep in on Jane and Finch and arrest people for no real reason,” says Jonah. “These same people are denied access to lawyers and due process. That’s normal. That’s the way it’s always been if you are poor, if you are born on the reserves, if you have a different color of skin. The reason why Eastern Avenue is considered special is that the all of a sudden what happens daily to marginalized people was happening, very publicly to mainstream Canadians.They were still certainly targeting people of colour and others, but a lot of the people in there were white and middle class. Because the media gave a shit about what happened to us so people heard about it.”

His brother Alex explained this point to Real News.com in an interview that took place before the publication ban. He pointed out the difference between the media’s reaction to the detainment of the G20 protesters and the 492 Tamil refugees currently imprisoned in Burnaby, BC.  Both faced mass arrest and detention. All but a select few of the G20 detainees have been released while the Tamil refugees are all still in detention including women and children.

The Toronto Community Mobilization Network put out an announcement following the G20 that said the protesters had won. As 40,000 people took part in the protests despite the intimidation, beatings and mass arrests that faced them.

“I like that sentiment. They are making T-shirts that say, “We are winning.”  I just don’t know how true that is,” says Jonah. “Eastern Avenue didn’t serve the purpose they intended it to. If they wanted to scare us away from resistance then they failed. If they think they can intimidate Alex then they have no idea who he is. They arrested 20 organizers. 60 have taken their place. People from all different movements are working together. Queer rights activists are working with indigenous rights advocates. Resistance is growing. I still wouldn’t say we’ve won. A great deal of the movement’s time has been lost dealing with the aftermath of the G20.  Few people even know why the protesters were protesting. The G20 austerity measures are still going forward, new prisons are still being built and Rob Ford is Toronto’s Mayor. I think we still have a long way to go.”

Bill Blair, head of Toronto Police, said during the G20 hearings that the claims of detainees are exaggerated.

“I believe that there were some delays due to the number of people processed,” says Blair. “But we had in place the facility and the resources to ensure that people’s rights were afforded to them.  We had legal counsel on premise. We had phones were available to them.”

Thus far, the Toronto Police department has threatened one hundred officers with disciplinary actions for their refusal to wear proper name badges during the G20.  The disciplinary action they face is said to be a loss of a day’s pay.

**********************************************************************************************

My significantly more successful cousin Sam sent me an email that struck me as the perfect way to end Surrounded.  I asked his permission to use this email and he agreed realizing it was his own fault for giving me such good material:

November 9th, 2010

So I was reading your most recent blog post, and what struck me was not so much the injustice of the situation (though it is striking), but the idea that [young, white] people in Canada still protest things. The thought that people I know, not to mention thousands of them, might be marching in the streets for a cause seems like a flashback to a 1990s I didn’t quite experience.

Then I read this: http://nplusonemag.com/sad-as-hell. (n+1 is the voice of the New York hipster intellectual elite) And, depressingly, it’s more of a sentiment I can relate to, not really because I’m like that, but because it’s the vibe here in NYC.

Which got me wondering: is it just a New York phenomenon that people are turning into internet-based robots? Or (please say yes) are things in Canada still real? You are my go-to guy.

Peace,

Sam

Dear Sam,

I can’t say that Toronto is anymore alive or dead than New York.

We have our hipsters, our fashionable cynicism but we also have the horrors of the G20 to provide us that well of anger and grief that makes people feel alive when it passes through them in conversation. From my landlady, girls I’m hitting on in line at a bar to the man driving the cab and serving my dinner, they all remember those days in June. Soon the rage will die and we’ll forget, when we reach the saturation point of how long we can feel shocked by something until we accept it as normal.

I didn’t march, not just because I wasn’t in Toronto, but because I don’t identify with protest culture. Too often I find the dialogue preaches to the choir.  Like Facebook status updates on poster board, written in a language that appeal to people on their friend’s list, without anything to invite the unconverted in to listen.

My guess is that I would have gone to see what it was like in the same sense a Roman citizen would go to see a lion rip apart a Christian in the Coliseum. To feel the passion of the circus.

I do feel more alive writing about Jonah and his brother Alex Hundert than when I blog about my insecurities and various insanities. Here I feel like I’m challenging something unspoken.

Which is that Canadians aren’t any different than Americans or really any group of people if they have the chance to be.  That the worst oppression can happen anywhere, that Hitler needs to be excluded from arguments because it makes evil something we aren’t a part of. The entire world lives in Poland and we all pretend we don’t see the smoke.

Listening to my friend Jonah made me realize that we live in a world that needs to/can be changed.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with that feeling other than write it all down and let it slip out into the world, hoping to give that same feeling to someone else. That there is a hope of not being a robot. That we have the right to be angry when things like this happen and that we have to keep resisting them every time they happen. That the events that transpired inside the detention center on Eastern Avenue is normal everyday life that we choose not to see when the people enduring it aren’t our friends.

Today I’m not a robot. Today I’ll give a shit for as long as I can.

Tomorrow I’ll have a new status update for Facebook.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll care about someone who isn’t my friend.

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Comments

One Response to “Surrounded#6: “Tomorrow I’ll care about someone who isn’t my friend””

  1. Jonathan Manor
    November 25th, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

    Incredible work Mike! I wasn’t able to read the whole thing right now, because it’s Thankgiving and everyone’s cramming, but I just wanted to say kudos.

    Good stuff!
    Jonathan Manor´s last blog ..Us Men- We Talk Too Much My ComLuv Profile

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    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

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    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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