An open letter to the Black Rose collective [from Ray Jackson]

[Update (February 22, 2015) : On Saturday evening, February 21, Ray issued a retraction of his open letter. Consequently, I’ve edited this post to reflect this fact.]

Ray Jackson of the Indigenous Social Justice Assocation (ISJA) has written an open letter tto the Black Rose anarchist collective re their participation in the TJ Hickey march that took place in Sydney on the weekend. I thought I may as well republish it here.

See also : Thomas ‘TJ’ Hickey rally in Redfern marks 11th anniversary of death, ABC, February 14, 2015 | Mother of Thomas ‘TJ’ Hickey calls for peaceful march after protesters clash with police, SBS, February 14, 2015 | Heavy handed police presence at TJ Hickey march in Sydney, Green Left Weekly, February 14, 2015.

An open letter to the Black Rose collective [from Ray Jackson]

a personal perspective, without apology.

your actions last saturday, 14 february, 2015, have once again given power to the redfern police to shut down the tj hickey marches entirely … [snip]

[Below is the relevant section of Ray’s subsequent letter retracting his previous open letter. The full letter may be read here.]

of cops & banners [&] other things

before i get into this post it is most important that you know that mick mundine has had papers served on aunt jenny at the redfern aboriginal tent embassy at the block and that she and those others in attendance there are to vacate ‘his’ land on monday 23/2. it is most important that if you can go there now or go between now and sunday night and stay for the monday eviction actions then i strongly urge you to do so. the block does not belong to the venal charlatan, mick mundine, but to the aboriginal community for the building of low cost accommodation for our elders and families. we must save the block for that purpose and not to enrich mick and his crew of thugs.

attached are the ‘reasons for judgement’ that justice monika schmidt handed down on friday 13/2 when she prohibited the route we wanted to do whilst not banning the march. i have written on the event previously but, to my shame, it had errors in it. substantial errors of fact and judgement.

the first mea culpa goes to les malezer of the congress for the wonderful and totally unexpected letter of support from him that he sent me with full permission to use it in court which i most certainly did. whether it impressed hh as much as it did me is unknown. i thank you, les, for your generosity of spirit in this matter. the support letter can be found below.

the next ommission from my previous post re the tj events was to exclude from the list of speakers cheryl and keith kalfauss who each year travel from melbourne to add their solid support and voice and that of our melbourne comrades. well done.

but the main mea culpa is to unreservedly apologise to all the members of the black rose collective. i acted without reason and merely jumped to conclusions on the day. the banner that was fought over on the day belonged to the members of the trotskyist platform (tp) and whose members have joined our tj marches for years. there was one anarchist flag that was shown to me and when i ok’ed it it was tied to the fence.

i also made other errors of fact relative to the participation of the anarchists and other left groups in all our rallies and marches but i am not into grovelling. i have publically agreed with my errors and, i believe, it would be far more constructive to move on from here. like the foul abbott, i have listened and i have learned!

there are several matters that i wish to raise for further discussion and they include police thuggery, banner protocols and my continuation in these events …

[end: remainder here.]

fkj

ray jackson
president
indigenous social justice association

prix des droits de l’homme de la republique francaise 2013
(french human rights medal 2013)

1303/200 pitt street, waterloo. 2017
[email protected]
61 2 9318 0947
0450 651 063

we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2018 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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18 Responses to An open letter to the Black Rose collective [from Ray Jackson]

  1. No says:

    I’m an ex member of the Black Rose Collective (though still on friendly terms with them). Not one member of the Black Rose Collective was at the TJ rally this year, not even one.

    The collective is pretty small and i understand a portion of it had travelled north last week to attend a Leard State Forest protest festival. Those collective members who had intended to go to the rally decided instead to stay at the Redfern Tent Embassy after fears were expressed by Embassy activists that an eviction could take place that day.

    While there were indeed anarchists present at the rally, the scuffle in question had nothing to do with anarchists. Most of those involved in it were members of Socialist Alternative. Not that they necessarily did anything wrong (aside from somewhat disrespectfully hocking their paper). Police were going around seizing whichever banners they pleased, when a SAlt member refused to give up their banner, police immediately began shoving them and tossed one of their members to the ground.

    The scuffle was very minor and was entirely instigated by the cops.

    Why Ray Jackson has blamed this incident on Black Rose, i have no idea. I presume he may have been told that Black Rose members started it by someone out of either ignorant or malicious intent.

  2. SD says:

    I saw this a couple of days ago when a friend forwarded it in an email and i wrote a quick reply that i’ll put here. I’ll add that i wasn’t at the demo and am not part of BR collective but am around the space…

    Hhmmm, it’s pretty confusing. Ray says the sign was brought to him to be ok’d and that he was fine with it and he even berates the coppers for causing shit because they think they can control what gets written on a placard. But the scuffles that resulted and the overall point of the letter is to blame the anarchists.

    It’s kinda disappointing that someone who’s been around so long and seen a lot would blame fucked up legal shit beforehand and policing on the day on ‘outside agitators’. He even admits the real concern of the police is the ongoing Hickey marches and campaign as opposed to anarchists and yet he gets sucked in to their argument about anarchist violence to the point that he says police should have kept them away from the march…

    It’s all a bit weird and disappointing and additionally that he seems to have missed folk being there in solidarity at all the things he mentions… maybe because that crew are always respectful enough to never take signs to those demos that promote their politics over that of the event. As in unlike the trots and greens they don’t carry signs that say ‘Black Rose’ or even ‘Anarchists against police violence’, etc.

  3. Futilitarian says:

    This is a tediously common practice amongst the denizens of the left ghetto, anarchist and non-anarchist. In an effort to give themselves some reason for being, where otherwise they wouldn’t have one, they invite themselves into other people’s struggles. The inevitable result is a fuck-up.

  4. FckCps says:

    I’m not a BR member but i help out there sometimes. I’ve also helped Ray and ISJA with putting on events, designing posters fliers etc. Soon after reading his open letter I called Ray to enquire what is the deal with it. After asking if he recognised Black Rose members in the scuffle, he said that he didn’t recognise those taking part in the scuffle and isn’t able to keep track of who’s who in the various leftwing grouplets.

    After pressing him on what made him believe that Black Rose members took part in the scuffle, he said that prior to the march the NSW police informed him that the “Black Rose Collective” intended to infiltrate the march and inflame anti-police sentiment. He told me the police named Black Rose in the court case denying ISJA their march route. He further said that he was informed by police that Black Rose had caused scuffles at the march last year also.

    I explained to Ray that all of this is police lies, and that such information is not to be trusted. He admitted that his letter may be incorrect and would be willing to release an apology after the matter is clarified at the next ISJA meeting, a week from now. Until that time, it’s pretty frustrating this police slander is being spread on anarchist blogs and whatnot. It’s also pretty frustrating that Ray would write up this kind of statement without contacting anyone involved in BR to see if there was any truth in what the police had claimed.

  5. @ndy says:

    If, upon further investigation, Ray discovers that the allegations he has made are unfounded, I think it reasonable to expect a retraction.

    I guess we’ll have to wait until after the next ISJA meeting …

  6. spaceagesoup says:

    Yeah what the ? No one from the Rose was at TJ Hickey this year (confirmed).

    A point however – which I feel the need to again, clarify.

    The collective exists to administrate the space. That’s all.
    At no point is there collective planning, decision making, actions or any other agency OUTSIDE OF THE SPACE. No posters, no actions, nothing.

    Occasionally, we run a fundraiser stall with patches and zines. These are personelled by collective members. There is no further agency of any type under the Black Rose banner, nor is there generally much consensus in general.

    Black Rose exists to foster dialogue for radical politics and to that end, it has functioned generally well for over thirty years. Short of their holding a “Black Rose” banner, just because they were dressed in black doesn’t make them Black Rose.

    Some people who are politically active and active in differing ways, use the space to socialise and/or organise. As a drop-in centre, this is to be expected. Black Rose does not have agency in these matters, and as individuals who are part of administrating the space, I do not appreciate the wholesale accusations being flung around, based, of all things, on police information. Pah!

  7. spaceagesoup says:

    and shut up, Futuiitarian

  8. spaceagesoup says:

    I think it reasonable to expect a retraction, irrespective of Ray’s discovery or not that the allegations are unfounded. I guess this should happen with utmost urgency, seeing as he nor slackbastard wasted any time with petty things like fact checking. Actually slackbastard should know better (of the extent of black rose agency, or lack thereof).

  9. @ndy says:

    @spaceagesoup:

    I re-published Ray’s ‘open letter’ yes — partly in order to allow anarchists in Sydney (Black Rose or otherwise) to respond. No endorsement was implied. I watched the NITV video. The journalist claimed the rally was ‘hijacked’ by socialists (presumably by members of Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative). Presumably, they too will have an account of the rally published at some point.

  10. Futilitarian says:

    Fuck you, too, spaceagesoup. I was actually quite interested, and heartened, to learn from your post that Black Rose exists solely to administer the space and to foster dialogue on radical politics, and not to organise so-called ‘actions’. This sounds like a very worthy project to me. So I’m glad that Black Rose wasn’t involved in any pointless fracas that may or may not have occurred. My statement stands, though, because I’ve seen the sort of futile nonsense described by Ray many, many times over the decades, and you would, too, if you took care to observe. Of course, it’s usually one or another variety of Leninoid that’s the main protagonist and usually at a stage in its members’ lives when hormones and wild ideas are running rampant. Thank you, spaceagesoup, and fuck you once again.

  11. spaceagesoup says:

    SB, the fact that you published an open letter on your site without regard to its implications, truthfulness (or otherwise) or the implications it might have for Black Rose says much.

    Black Rose’s mission has always been to maintain the library/space. Previous incarnations of the collective may have had a presence at actions, as do some of the current collective members occasionally choose to participate in their society. However even if it was EACH AND EVERY MEMBER of the Rose collective, this is still personal choices, and not agency on behalf of the collective or the space.

    Futilitarian I just meant that you were happily jumping on the bandwagon, despite none of this being true, so fuck you for that. No need to fuck me back, I am only setting things right here. I expect a full retraction as an individual in the collective, but more importantly, I expect THIS POST to be brought down or modified HEAVILY to highlight the inaccuracies and where your assumptions have been made.

    I am also bemused by how Ray also makes it very clear that his beef is with the police generally, and that his information came from the police. And neither himself, the head of the ISJA, or you, SB, thought that there was anything wrong with this picture. Do you generally tow the state line?

    Does Ray generally think that police provide accurate intel to left activists – FKN LOL!

  12. spaceagesoup says:

    sorry about the bad paragraphing there, the request to have this ‘fwd’ removed was directed at SB

  13. spaceagesoup says:

    Although I think your brand of leftism, separatist/isolationist thinking and left-infighting are what’s particularly dangerous on the left, not the occasional individuals who overstep other people’s comfort zones. No one owns their struggle individually, there is commonality in all struggles. This is where solidarity springs from. Your school of thought will have every one fighting against everyone for their single issues. Single issue thinking is what got us into this mess.

  14. FckCps says:

    Ray sent this message out yesterday evening, figured i should re-post it here:

    of cops & banners [&] other things

    before i get into this post it is most important that you know that mick mundine has had papers served on aunt jenny at the redfern aboriginal tent embassy at the block and that she and those others in attendance there are to vacate ‘his’ land on monday 23/2. it is most important that if you can go there now or go between now and sunday night and stay for the monday eviction actions then i strongly urge you to do so. the block does not belong to the venal charlatan, mick mundine, but to the aboriginal community for the building of low cost accommodation for our elders and families. we must save the block for that purpose and not to enrich mick and his crew of thugs.

    attached are the ‘reasons for judgement’ that justice monika schmidt handed down on friday 13/2 when she prohibited the route we wanted to do whilst not banning the march. i have written on the event previously but, to my shame, it had errors in it. substantial errors of fact and judgement.

    the first mea culpa goes to les malezer of the congress for the wonderful and totally unexpected letter of support from him that he sent me with full permission to use it in court which i most certainly did. whether it impressed hh as much as it did me is unknown. i thank you, les, for your generosity of spirit in this matter. the support letter can be found below.

    the next ommission from my previous post re the tj events was to exclude from the list of speakers cheryl and keith kalfauss who each year travel from melbourne to add their solid support and voice and that of our melbourne comrades. well done.

    but the main mea culpa is to unreservedly apologise to all the members of the black rose collective. i acted without reason and merely jumped to conclusions on the day. the banner that was fought over on the day belonged to the members of the trotskyist platform (tp) and whose members have joined our tj marches for years. there was one anarchist flag that was shown to me and when i ok’ed it it was tied to the fence.

    i also made other errors of fact relative to the participation of the anarchists and other left groups in all our rallies and marches but i am not into grovelling. i have publically agreed with my errors and, i believe, it would be far more constructive to move on from here. like the foul abbott, i have listened and i have learned!

    there are several matters that i wish to raise for further discussion and they include police thuggery, banner protocols and my continuation in these events.

    but first some background. for the first eight years we rallied at the fence-line at tj hickey park and marched to the block. in one year we marched to the sydney police centre. through those years we dealt with both commander catherine burn and commander luke freudenstien. even then there were arguments put to actually stop marching, to fix the language problem as they saw it and the odd rumble about ‘offensive banners.’ it was only in years 9, 10 and 11 when we changed our route to either parliament house or the city itself, but that march was foiled, that the police interference has become more physical.

    the police over the last three years have become even more and more over-aggressive each year. they have deliberately over-policed our rallies and marches and been far more macho than was ever required. both commanders have argued over those years that we were demeaning the current redfern police in toto and they were really pissed off with what we were doing and saying. it was also going against the gentrification and good police/community relationships. luke has even had conversations with gail in an attempt to get her to accept the flawed coronial inquest and to change the wording on the plaque so it could then be attached to the fence-line. everything has been tried and gail has stayed strong in her resolve for justice.

    that the redfern cops are becoming more and more irritated and frustrated by our public events goes without question and thus their eagerness to shut us down becomes stronger from year to year. but the simple truth is they cannot legally stop us from marching so it is within their thinking to harrass us into oblivion. in my opinion i reckon they will continue to work on gail. they cannot stop us but they will continue to attempt to contain us.

    we need to look at legal avenues of challenging the police powers, real and imagined, at every turn. that and the legal challenge to the decision of justice schmidt. s25 of the summary offences act needs to [be] taken out to allow all groups to have the freedom of the city as is their right.

    the situation with the banners is really nothing more than a catch 22 for activists. personally i have very few problems with banners, placards and flags that tell the truth of the reason for the rally or the march. some banners are just provocatively ridiculous and it is these banners that the cops use as an excuse to try to shut the march down. conversely, however, there is the real valid argument of our right to free speech. as david shoebridge said at the rally, since when did the cops become the arbiters of good taste? that is for the role of the public to make a complaint and not the police. this needs to be legally looked at also.

    if the police find “fuck the police” to be offensive then why has it been allowed, grudgingly perhaps, over previous years? why is it only now become an active problem? on the trotskyist platform banner that the police objected to last saturday had the following words displayed as described by the tp:

    The police simply charged towards it shouting “that’s offensive” and aggressively grabbed it. The comrades were so shocked and unprepared for this that they simply let go. But then half the crowd at the rally saw what happened and were horrified and so many of these rally participants – including Aboriginal protesters and supporters of various socialist groups – tried to grab the banner back.

    I did not see anyone use any violence against police but the police were very violent and in particular they really roughed up a young white woman protester. When I went to look at what was happening just to make sure people were OK, one cop gave me a big shove and I fell back on my backpack. I had a knee reconstruction last year and was worried because I could feel my knee jar.

    We all felt really terrible that the incident upset Aunty Gail Hickey and our chairwoman Sara apologised to Gail several times afterwards which she accepted graciously. But we had no idea that walking in with the same slogans as last year would lead to this.

    The banner itself had as its main slogan: “JUSTICE FOR TJ HICKEY” which was in by far the biggest writing on the banner and in red colour. Above that main slogan on the banner in black writing was the words leading into it, “Mobilise Joint Action of Aboriginal People, Trade Unions and Coloured “Ethnic” Communities to Demand:” (i.e. to demand “Justice For TJ Hickey”). Above that slogan and leading into it was the slogan in rather small writing, “Unite All Those Targeted By the Same Racist, Rich People’s State That Murdered TJ.” At the very bottom of the banner in black writing and in much smaller font than the main slogan (“Justice For TJ Hickey”) that was just above [it], was the slogan, “Jail the Racist Killer Cops” (i.e. the ones responsible for killing TJ). According to the SBS news report that I saw, the police objected to it because it described police as racist.

    another flag that the police found ‘offensive’ was the anarchist flag that stated “cops killed tj”. i had ok’ed that flag as it was merely stating the truth. the police told me to remove it and i refused as it was a true statement. they removed it.

    it seems that the cops wish to saniitise our messages and that any banner or placard that has the word ‘cop/police’ in it will be removed. i find this a strange and ludicrous situation. since the death of tj 11 years ago i have, as have others, clearly stated both orally and in writing that tj died as the result of a redfern police pursuit. i have loudly stated that the police on police investigation was rorted to whitewash the real evidence and further that the coronial inquest managed by john abernethy was set up only to exonerate the police. i also accuse then-premier, bob carr, and his attorney-general, bob debus, of political interference in the tj event merely to protect the police involved.

    nothing has ever arisen from any of my statements, verbally or in written form, on any death in custody events. why do some words that have been in our rallies for some years suddenly now become a problem? we must do something to stop the police interference with our marches.

    still another problem arises however when our marches are for death-in-custody families. the main reason for the rally and march is to pay respect and to honour the victim. this is best done by having banners and placards that will not excite the police to attempt to break up and shut down the event. yes, it is a form of censorship but it is self-censorship done for the right reasons and to allow respect to the family involved. i know this is a difficult position for some to take but as gail said after the fracas over the tp banner, “this is my son’s day and must be respected by all, including the police.” no violence is wanted and we march as one for tj. that is the subtle difference that must be recognised and accepted by all.

    the other point that needs to be looked at is my physical involvement in future rallies and marches. on that saturday when i finally got to the banner i found myself in the precarious situation because of the to-ing and fro-ing of falling to the ground with the real possibility of being trampled by both sides. i have accepted that my participation in these events is becoming more physically damaging to my health, such as it is. i will, if time and health allows, do the required work for the 12th anniversary of tj’s death on the sunday, 14 february, 2016 but that will be my last as i turn 75 the following month. we need to groom young and savvy aborigines, male or female, to take over the isja role. this will free me from the more physically and active work whilst i concentrate on my other isja works here.

    much to think about and discuss so come along on thursday night at 7pm at the redfern community centre opposite the block and become a part of the solution.

    fkj

    ray jackson
    president
    indigenous social justice association

    prix des droits de l’homme de la republique francaise 2013
    (french human rights medal 2013)

    1303/200 pitt street, waterloo. 2017
    [email protected]
    61 2 9318 0947
    0450 651 063

    we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people

  15. @ndy says:

    *I’ve edited the post to reflect the above.

  16. curious if anyone in this discussion have ever met ray jackson?

    has anyone discussed deaths in custody with ray in person or by phone?

  17. i’ll take that as a ‘no’

  18. FckCps says:

    BushTelegraph, I’m pretty sure this discussion isn’t active anymore, so i doubt many saw your comment, but as i already stated above, I’ve helped Ray out with numerous ISJA events, designing their posters, flyers, painting their banners. Most anarchist activists in Sydney have met/spoken to Ray, as has probably everyone in the Black Rose collective, even if he can’t remember them.

    While Ray still controls ISJA, i will no longer have anything to do with that group.

    ISJA as an organisation, at least in Sydney, is pretty much just Ray Jackson, along with a small handfull of mostly young non-indigenous activist types who sometimes go to ISJA meetings and help Ray out with things, though they have zero say in any decision making in the group.

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