03.04.2016 01:21 PM

Judge me by my friends – and my enemies

Oh, look. The far-Left aspiring terrorist – who tried to kill a bunch of people, and very nearly did – considers me his “nemesis.” Good.

The far-Right despises me, too.

I’d call that a good day, wouldn’t you?


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    davie says:

    ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’

    A zillion years ago (well, about 1963) I read an account about a conflict in 11th Century Paris between the mayor of Paris and the Count of Paris. The mayor, representing the burghers and guilds, figured taxes from Paris should go to the mayor’s office. The Count figured those taxes should go to the Count’s palace.
    To resolve the conflict, the Count sent his retainers to grab the mayor, and cut off his head.
    Then the Count, with his entourage, galloped to every main road crossing I Paris and held up the Mayor’s head on a pike, proclaiming that he had to behead the mayor because the mayor was a ‘heretic.’
    Apparently the word ‘heretic’ carried a meaning then that the simple declaration meant that the heretic could be murdered with impunity.

    I think it was in early 19th Century accounts that we find those I power using the term ‘terrorist’ to describe dissenters of any kind. Once the label was applied, the ‘terrorist’ could be slain with no questions asked.
    During the 20th Century, in the West and areas under its influence (like 1960’s Indonesia) , the word ‘Communist’ played the same role. In some other parts of the world, ‘Counter-revolutionary’ was almost the same, although, they often faced trials – loaded trials- but, trials.
    More recently, the terms ‘blasphemer’ and ‘apostate’ seemed enough to justify murder without much of a hearing.
    Since history began, September 11, 1973, ‘terrorist’ has made a very successful comeback, with all kinds of power centres getting in on the act. Here in the West, we have had all kinds of laws passed short circuiting centuries of our building up our system of justice so as to remove someone with the label ‘terrorist’ from due process.

    My own take on ‘terrorist’ is that the persons who are wrecking the planet with impunity are terrorists.

    (Fortunately for them, I have no power.)

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    Mike Adamson says:

    In fairness, he wasn’t involved in the Lytton bombing, he endorsed the Direct Action apology after the bombing injured innocent people and now acknowledges that the tactics were a mistake.

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      Warren says:

      He’s an asshole. Always has been, always will be. And he tried to kill people.

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        davie says:

        At the time of the arrests and trials, I understood that the perpetrators had issued a warning about he explosives, and that the company decided not to pass on the warning to its workers and to evacuate. But eh article you posted easy that the explosive detonated early, and that that was what injured people. Wiki corroborates the article version.
        So I guess Litton acted properly…other than manufacturing cruise missile components.

        (I imagine the cruise missiles were also meant to kill people…but the article did not mention that.)

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          Warren says:

          I hate – hate – when people try to rationalize violence, on the Right or the Left.

          Your heroes made a bomb big enough to fill an entire van. They parked it beside a guard post where they saw people.

          This is what happened next, from my book Fury’s Hour:

          On October 15, 1982, at about 11:15 p.m., Hansen drove her van onto the neatly-trimmed lawn at Litton, and parked it beside building 402. She flicked the toggle switch on the bomb’s timing device and stepped outside. Beside the van, she deposited a fluorescent-orange box on the ground. A stick of dynamite had been taped to the box. On the other side, Direct Action had written:

          “DANGER EXPLOSIVES – Inside this van are 550 lbs. of commercial dynamite which will explode anytime from within 15 minutes to 25 minutes after the van was parked here. The dynamite will be set off by two completely separate detonating systems. Do not enter or move the van – it will explode. Phone the police immediately and have them block off Highway 27, City View Drive, Dixon Road and other roads surrounding the Litton Plants and have the workers inside the plants moved to protected areas. Nearby hotels and factories should also be notified so that no one will be hurt by the blast. On top of this box is an authentic sample stick of the dynamite contained inside the van. This is to confirm that this is a real bomb!”

          Hansen jogged to the getaway car, where Brent Taylor was waiting. They drove away. A few minutes later, they picked up Julie Belmas at a bus stop. Her job had been to call Litton’s two security guards on duty that night, and warn them about the bomb. She told Hansen and Taylor that it was clear that the security guard, Maxwell Spencer, “just didn’t understand” what she was saying about the bomb. Despite that, the three made no other warning calls. They did not decide to call off the act of terrorism.

          Terry Chikowski was 33-years-old, married, and a volunteer peewee hockey league referee; Maxwell Spencer, meanwhile, was older, and a former minister. The two men conferred nervously about the call from the anonymous young woman, Chikowski urged Spencer to immediately call the police. He did so. Within minutes, three squad cars arrived from 23 Division in Etobicoke, sirens wailing. After the officers ascertained that the van appeared to contain a bomb, Chikowski ran into building 402, to warn workers to get out. He yelled to one worker, James Tayles, and was mid-sentence when the bomb went off, slightly after 11:30 p.m. – about 15 minutes earlier than Belmas had said it would.

          Instantly, building 402 was virtually levelled; thick steel cables could be seen in the concrete slabs that had once supported the structure. A massive crater remained where Hansen had parked the van; parts of it flew more than a hundred feet out onto Highway 427. And ten people – ten regular, normal working people, not malevolent politicians or unscrupulous corporate executives – were badly, badly hurt. One worker, Barry Blunden, had his skull fractured by the bomb, along with a broken collarbone, legs and fingers. A police officer, Mervyn Dennis, had severe facial lacerations, a fractured leg and permanent hearing loss. Another constable, Guy Courvoisier, was knocked unconscious by the blast. Meanwhile, out on Highway 427 – onto which parts of Ann Hansen’s stolen van had rocketed, resulting in two major accidents – another score of people were seriously injured.

          But it was Terry Chikowski’s injuries that were the worst. His body was ripped open by the blast; his internal organs were literally hanging out of gaping wounds when ambulance crews found him. Reached at his home in the Toronto area, Chikowski politely, and dispassionately, recalls what happened to him on that terrible night.

          “Well, I’ve still got afflictions as a result of the injuries,” he pauses. “Well, look, let me tell you what they were. My back was split open approximately 14 inches, and I had four pounds of muscle that were blown out of my back. I had a portion of one rib blown out of my back. My spleen was disintegrated. I had four ribs snapped off the spine and four others cracked. A hole was blown in the lower left side of my stomach. [My] left lung and left kidney collapsed – but they brought them back up during surgery.”

          He pauses again, then gives a dark laugh. “My diaphragm was split, and the surgeon said that was kind of a saving grace, because when they opened me up in the front, they would have had to cut my diaphragm anyway – to remove the fragments of glass from my heart.”

          The most horrible injury of all, however, came from a brick – a brick that had once been part of a wall at building 402. Says Chikowski: “Where the muscle left my back, they had to surgically remove half a brick that was embedded there, along with a piece of sheet metal. It was apparently sticking out of me, similar to a shark’s fin.” The doctors later told Terry Chikowski that, had he not been in good physical shape, the brick would have passed straight through his body, in the spot where his heart is located. He was in intensive care for a week – with more 300 stitches outside his body, and more than 600 inside. The surgeons also left “three or four” clamps inside him, he says, to hold together strips of muscle and tissue. He was moved out of intensive care on October 21, 1982, his tenth wedding anniversary.

          And what did Gerry Hannah have to say about all of this carnage? Not much. That he supported the bombing, for starters. And, years later, when describing Terry Chikowski’s injuries, Hannah noted how the young man’s back contained, in the bland jargon of the military planners he professed to loathe so much, “embedded material.” He declines to such much more.

          Hearing Gerry Hannah’s assessment of his injuries for the very first time, Terry Chikowski gets mad. “They can call it political all they want,” he says. “It was definitely a criminal act. Max and I had nothing to do with manufacturing any cruise missile guidance systems at Litton! We didn’t do that! [Hannah and Direct Action] had a total disregard for human life. A total disregard.

          “They just went and did what they wanted to do, and the rest of the world be damned.”

          In the wake of the bombing, Direct Action experienced the first faint stirrings of self-doubt. The group issued a lengthy communiqué that essentially blamed the injured for their own injuries: “Accidents happen,” they wrote. “We were mistaken in believing that the Litton guards and police would be on top of things…all injury to the workers could have been avoided if the guards had promptly evacuated the Litton plant, as they obviously should have [sic].”
          Says Hannah: “[We had] one thought, leaving Direct Action. [The Litton attack] was too much for us to handle and we went too far.”

          But the doubts did not last for long. Back home, back in their revolutionary nest in Vancouver, the group recovered their high sense of moral purpose, and started plotting more bombings – and even an armed robbery, for good measure. In November 1982, Hansen, Belmas and other still-unidentified women – it was important that women alone carry out the “actions,” Hannah says, without the assistance of men – bombed three Red Hot video stores in North Vancouver, Surrey and Coquitlam. All but one of the video outlets was levelled. The Red Hot chain was targeted, Hannah recalls, because it offered patrons access to what Direct Action considered to be violent pornography. Says Hannah: “Revolutionary change needed to be made in society. I was hoping that more and more people would do that sort of thing, I guess.”

          On January 20, 1983, a cloudy day that threatened rain, Direct Action was in another stolen van on Highway 99, heading to Squamish for yet more target practice. At the time, Hannah says, the five had been readying themselves for the robbery of Brink’s truck at a Vancouver-area department store. Unlike the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir bombing, or the attack at Litton, Hannah had decided to play a very active role in the robbery. Of the Brinks guard, Hannah says, blasé: “We were going to take him down.”

          He, they, didn’t get the chance. On an isolated stretch of highway, at a phoney road closure (done up to resemble a hydro-related job, ironically enough) dozens of heavily armed police officers surrounded the van. They had had the group under surveillance for some time. The urban guerrillas of Direct Action – or, as the media quickly dubbed them, the Squamish Five, because they were arrested near the place – were no more. “I don’t know if we would have wanted to shoot our way out of that situation,” says Hannah. “We would have all been killed, for sure. They had way more guns than we did.”

          Things did not go well for Direct Action after that. Doug Stewart was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir bomb, and a weapons charge. Brent Taylor received 22 years for a string of crimes, including possession of weapons and explosives, conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of stolen property, auto theft and the Litton bombing. Ann Hansen was ordered to be imprisoned for life for an equally impressive list, but also the Red Hot Video bombings; she reacted to the sentence by throwing a tomato at the judge. Julie Belmas was sentenced to 20 years, but this was later reduced to 15 on appeal. And Gerry Hannah – the former Gerry Useless – was handed a term of ten years, mainly for the planned Brink’s robbery. “I was sentenced in 1984, and released in 1988,” says Hannah.

          By 1992, the last member of the group, Brent Taylor, had been paroled. He went on to become a junkie. Stewart changed his name, renounced his radical past, and became an electrician, living in obscurity, somewhere in Vancouver. Taylor and Hansen both live in the Kingston area – where Hansen made a living building cabinets and started organizing again for prison abolition. Belmas – now calling herself “Juliet” – publicly renounced her fellow revolutionaries, and became a born-again Christian.

          And Gerry Hannah? Gerry Hannah, neé Useless, lives in the interior of British Columbia, in a place without a phone and (finally) without electricity. He drives a snowplow for a living. And he doesn’t give interviews, it is said, unless you tell him in advance that you agree with his politics.

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            davie says:

            You trying to chastise me?
            You trying to chastise me?

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            Maps Onburt says:

            Trying???? He blew you away. You and your kind make me puke. You try to justify these deliberate acts because you agree with the cause. This was a despicable act of cowardice by a bunch of stupid losers. i had a friend who worked there and was lucky to escape with his life. In a perffect world, you’d be the innocent victim. Perhaps then, you’d get your head out of your ass and see these acts of violence as despicable as they really are. Club fed obviously didn’t do anything to give these idiots any remorse.

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            davie says:

            Maybe a few who read this will have a look at what is available on the Direct Action/Squamish 5 group. The Rowbotham interview with Taylor (2 parts) gives a flavor of some of the intent behind the Litton attack and their other actions.
            (I think one of the women testified at the Pickton trial more recently.)

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    Matt says:

    Hannah’s comments in this interview were thoughtful and showed an evolution in his thinking.
    Also, to say that he ‘was trying to kill people’ is a gross overstatement when it is clear the five had tried to carry out this – brutal and juvenile – act without harming anyone. Not excusing stupid behaviour but it’s pretty easy to criticise it without the hyperbole.


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      Tim Sullivan says:

      Reckless disregard for maiming and death is the exact same as intentionally trying to kill someone. Once you point a gun at someone, you cannot say you didn’t intend to shoot someone. Once you put one stick if dynamite ready to explode in a place you know has people nearby, you cannot say you didn’t intent to blow up somebody.

      It just doesn’t rest in your mouth to say otherwise.

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    Tim White says:

    I could barely keep from puking when I read Hannah’s nonsense. “We don’t care what you say, fuck you” Gerry, you are so right. He’d be a dead man in many other countries for the things he did. “Federal prison was brutal” What an an asshole.

    The other one, holy fuck, batshit weirdos, good luck with those guys Warren. You like to keep the riff raff out though. Hopefully you have a few tricks up your sleeve yet.

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    Christian Giles says:

    Yep! Keep up the good work!

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    Michelle Tisza says:

    I rationalize killing people. I’m an asshole.

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