Guelph queers speak out against police violence

An interview with Fierce and Fabulous folks

by shailagh keaney, Toronto Media Co-op

Below is an interview with three people who were targeted by University of Guelph campus police last month. Each have charges arising from the incident. See Court solidarity for queers in Guelph to learn about their solidarity call-out for April 19.
Answers to the questions below were compiled by a third party.

Can you tell me about what happened that night at the UofG campus?

Justin Timberdick:
I was arrested Friday, March, 6th, 2010 outside of the annual drag show organized by Guelph Queer Equality (G.Q.E) I’m being charged with assault a peace officer and breach of probation. What happened was simple. We were targeted by the campus police because we are queer/trans kids, the result of that ended in the pigs using excessive force against us. Excessive force being (for me at least) being chased down and tackled into a thorn bush, having my head slammed against a cop cruiser multiple times while my hands were handcuffed behind my back. The cuffs were so tight that they cut my wrists open as well as caused bruising. The pigs have been using fear, intimidation and violence against queer and trans. folk as a tactic for forever. I don’t think that this sort of targeted attack is anything new, and it could have been much worse i’m very sure of that, but i am personally not willing to wait for further violent homophobic/transphobic attacks to happen before we, as queers and trannies, fucking step it up and take action against these queer and trans. hating pigs.

Bikesexual Boy:
First I remember saying, “why are you chasing my friends?,” then I was saying, “Get off of my friends!,” then I was saying, “Let go of me!,” then I was saying “Am I under arrest?”

What sorts of things happened when you were in custody?

In custody, the cops tried to ask me questions i didn’t have to answer, about where i grew up, if i was a student. I couldn’t get a hold of my lawyer. They refused to give me a blanket to sleep with and it was really cold. every half hour or a male cop would come into the cell block i was in and scream at a woman imprisoned beside me, the whole time i was there i could hear cops using all the tactics in their arsenal of how to effectively break people; denying basic needs, depriving people of sleep, not allowing phone calls, making degrading comments, screaming, name calling, slamming doors, laughing in peoples faces or behind their backs. This coupled with the violent nature of our arrests again reminded me of how the institution of the police is inherently violent.

Justin Timberdick:
While i was in custody i was kept in tight handcuffs, sitting with bloody wrists for a long time, maybe a couple hours or so. I was told that i couldn’t use the bathroom until i was searched. I had told the police, well two things actually 1. Was that i wanted to be searched by someone who had a dick and a vagina and 2. that i wanted to be searched by someone who was trans. identified. I refused to be searched by anyone else. They didn’t seem to know what to do with me and seemed very confused by the fact that i’m a trans. guy. That whole situation with the search was pretty hilarious until two female pigs came in to search me. They came into the room i was being held in and patted me down and told me to choose one article of clothing to wear for the top half of my body, which is always the case. I had dressed up super fancy in a suit for the drag show, and so i asked if i could wear my suit jacket since there was no metal on it. They said fine so i took off my muscle tank and went to put on the suit jacket. I was wearing my binder and at that point the one pig told me i had to either choose to wear that into the cells or i had to take it off and put on my suit jacket, but i couldn’t wear both. I told the cop that i wasnt taking it off in front of them, and told them to leave the room while i took it off. They refused to leave the room so i asked if they’d just turn around, and they said no again.We were then stuck in this sort of stand-offish point where i was just standing there in my binder and saying i had to go to the washroom and telling them i wasn’t taking off my binder. I eventually turned around took off my binder and put on my suit jacket. I felt fucking violated and was feeling pretty shitty at that point. As much as i felt fucked up about being in the cop shop there was also points where i felt really fucking strong and solid. My friends that i was arrested with are amazing fucking badass queers who are fierce as fuck and we were yelling things to each other like “i love you” I personally felt so strong because of the support we were all trying to give each other in this fucked up place, and situation. When the pigs weren’t letting me piss my friends would scream at the pigs telling them to let me go fucking piss, and when the pigs used female pronouns with me they’d ream those pigs the fuck out!

What are your current legal conditions and what do you think about them?

Justin Timberdick:
I have conditions up the ass and not in the way i want things up my ass! I also have probation conditions as well on top of these other bullshit conditions, but my conditions for these charges are 1. To not be on University property, which is not really that big of an inconvenience for me because i am hardly ever there anyways, but either way its fucked up because i am still being limited to where i can and can’t go. 2. Abstain from the purchase/possession/consumption of alcohol. This is just ridiculous and part of their ploy to make it seem like we were super wasted the night of the drag show, when in reality that was not even close to the case. Also, the reason for our arrests had nothing to do with alcohol. This is just another attempt at further restraining our freedom. 3. To not associate with my two co-accused. This is super fucking hard for me and for me the most brutal condition. Not only do i care so much about those folks and spent so much of my time with them, but we also organize a lot together, and so having the non association condition makes it impossible to continue organizing those things. 4. i have a curfew of 9:00pm-6:00a.m. Thats also really fucking hard because before all of this happened the night was when i would be out doing things, like dancing and yeah..well mostly just dancing and sometimes dumpstering.

Bikesexual Boy:
The intention of all our conditions is to restrict our freedom such that we feel too isolated and alienated to take any action whatsoever. Fortunately, we all have an incredibly supportive community. Our arrests has actually been the catalyst for a lot of cross-community (campus vs. rest of Guelph) networking, and seems to be making the rad queer community a lot more solid.

What do you think the role is of queers in the movement against police violence and impunity?
What is the role of the anti-police violence movement in the lives of queers?
How would you say these issues overlap?

The intersection of queer resistance with an anti-police violence movement, is long established connection; from Stone Wall to the recent, glorious, successes of bash back, it’s clear that queers occupy a unique and important space in the movement against police. Queers have always had, and continue to experience massive violence, especially from the police, who use weapons from guns to rape, to keep gender variants and queers as disempowered as possible, while erasing them, and their contributions, from public life.
Queers fight police violence as well as broader oppression on many fronts, from occupying homophobic churches, to pink and black blocks, to dance parties and queer culture performances, like the drag show we attended and were arrested outside of. As queers continue to resist assimilation and silencing we are moving towards destroying a society which denies, invalidates, and is disgusted by the very existence of queers; their bodies, lives, and loves.
What I find so inspiring about queer resistance is that it is a daily struggle for free and true lives. We cannot be who we truly are, as long as we are forced into gendered, sexed, feminine or masculine, heteronormative boxes. To me, queers prove that we are beautiful by being ourselves, and prove that we are strong, by finding ways to fight what keeps us afraid (like the police!)

Justin Timberdick:
There is a very long and very intense history of radical queer/trans resistance to police violence. If you look at things like The Compton Cafeteria Riots, or Stonewall there has been a lot of resistance and hatred directed toward the pigs. This sort of resistance is an on-going struggle and will always be because of the very specific systemic violence that we all face. Queers and trannies have been fighting the pigs with high heeled stilettos, molotovs and bricks for a long time. I think that the role of queers in the movement against police violence is a huge one because the pigs will always target us, and they targeted us even before they were ever cops. They were the jocks in high school who kicked our asses for being queers, called us faggots and harassed us every day. Fuck them. Their role hasnt changed except now they can throw us in jail. Prison is also another very real reality and can be a scary and dangerous threat to queers and trans folk. Things like access to hormones and healthcare for trans identified people is an impossible battle especially if you are trans and either weren’t receiving hormones before being locked up or if you were getting hormones from another source than a registered doctor. Most of the time if you are trans identified the prison screws (guards) will choose to keep you in protective custody.

Bikesexual Boy:
–I think we need to resist police violence not only as queers, but also as folks who participate in a society where other marginalized communities are harassed and beat. —there is intersection in our identities, as queer and trans-identified folk. We identify as queer for a reason; we don’t just use it as a umbrella term for the GBLT (or whatever the fuck that acronym that tries to find specific labels for people’s desires/genders). We identify as queer because it’s more than a rejection of how the state defines our desires or genders–it is a rejections of the way our society is constructed as a whole. So we need to resist police violence in a way that is representative of our queer identity.
–I’m not saying that the oppression that queers face, or even individuals within the queer community, is the same as that of folks who are from other marginilized communities. I’m also not putting a heirarchy on different forms of oppression—they’re different–but, for the most part, they all come from the same fucked up capitalist piece of shit state. So yeah, we need to ally along those lines, and resist police violence along those lines.

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