A couple of weeks ago, the latest copy of the US-based feminist Make/Shift Magazine (with a short article from me) found its way through my postbox and one of the piece I read has still got me thinking.
It was by a community organizer and writer called Courtney Desiree Morris on how gender violence and injustice totally destroys progressive organisations from the inside out. It also turns out that those who practice gender violence are more likely to be gov informants. So I guess that it makes it doubly important to get rid of those kinds of people… ( as if you needed more reasons!)
The piece was sparked off by news that an FBI informant had infiltrated a radical movement in Texas and also the revelation that an ‘activist’ named Darby at the Common Ground collective in New Orleans, which helped residents after Hurricane Katrina, was also an FBI agent.
The co-founder of CG Malik Rahim spoke how he lamented all of the ‘young ladies’ who left Common Ground as a result of Darby’s domineering, aggressive style of organizing. Morris rhetorically asks what happened when these women complained and follows the issue to its logical conclusion:
Well, their concerns likely fell on sympathetic but ultimately unresponsive ears- everything may have been true, and after the fact everyone admits how disruptive Darby was, quick to suggest violent, ill-conceived direct-action schemes that endangered everyone he worked with. There were even claims of Darby sexually assaulting female organizers at Common Ground and in general being dismissive of women working in the organization.”
Maybe if the organizers made collective accountability around gender violence a central part of our practices we could neutralize people who are working on behalf of the state to undermine our struggles.”