Disruption of Groups

Several organizations and groups in the NYC area have been disrupted by Thadeaus’ abusive or otherwise manipulative behavior. Below is an incomplete list.

123 Community Space

Statement by 123 Community Space volunteers on September 30, 2009:

As people involved in 123, we want to present our perspective and information concerning events that you have likely already heard something about.

On the night of September 25th, members of IOH [orchestrated by Thadeaus] entered 123 in the middle of the night when nobody else would be there to remove a number of items from the space which ostensibly are claimed to be a combination of Thadeaus’ personal property (a table) and that of IOH (books, zines, shirts, screws that were holding locks on a cabinet, etc).

We take issue with this action for a number of reasons. For one, most of the items taken (library books) were actively being debated as to whether or not it was IOH or 123 who had right to claim them. The matter of whether the library books belonged to IOH or 123 was discussed and tabled at two meetings with representatives from both IOH and 123 in the summer of 2009. Several people in IOH were aware that despite several proposals, no agreement was reached and the issue was tabled with the understanding that no alterations would be made to the current state of the library until a consensus decision could be made.

Furthermore, some of the items taken (a bookshelf, zines that were not made by IOH people, shirts that were not screen-printed by IOH, etc.) were never claimed by IOH and there appears to be no clear rationale as to why these items were taken. Finally, some items (sewing materials) were dumped or strewn around the space, an act of blatant disrespect.

In addition to considering this act cowardly, we find this act a serious violation of the consensus process and mutual respect in light of our shared goals even when their are disagreements. A lot of us personally feel that this was a contemptuous act that has depleted our trust in IOH.

While we understand others participated in and initiated these events, because of Thadeaus’ history (both his abuse history and his privileged position in IOH as longest-standing current member), we see his position and responsibility in this matter to be unique and particularly salient. Thadeaus has an extensive history of exhibiting abusive behaviors directed towards, but not limited to, one of the core volunteers at 123, during and after the time they were in an intimate relationship together. Thadeaus is one of the very few people who is currently involved with IOH who has been consistently for the length of its existence, and many of the people who used to work with IOH no longer do so because of Thadeaus’ behavior over the years. This clearly has affected the relationship between many individuals and some organizations in the NYC anarchist community.

We see Thadeaus’ behavior in this situation as a continuation of his pattern of controlling, manipulating and otherwise abusive behaviors that he has exhibited over the years. His ex-partner, towards whom he had been abusive, was the primary person working on the library project. Furthermore, several people involved at 123 felt that many of the books belonged to 123, since they were specifically donated to that space and Thadeaus’ ex-partner coordinated the donations as a representative of 123. Since he is tentatively scheduled to participate in an accountability circle in October related to this abuse, the facilitators of the accountability process were notified of his actions. They asked him to move the library books to a neutral location and to inform them of this neutral location where the items will be kept (until an agreement can be made). He refused to comply and is deflecting the responsibility on IOH as a whole.

Regardless of the fact that the decision and action of moving the books involved more people than just Thadeaus, we do see this incident as connected to an overarching pattern of dominating and abusive behaviors within relationships and organizing. We also stress that the circumstances do not justify or excuse the decision of several individuals to completely disregard consensus-based decision making processes in an action which deeply calls into question the basis for trust and upholds status quo abusive power relations.

While we understand there has been tension between IOH and 123 lately, since IOH was asked to no longer do Thursday night events at 123 in early September, what happened last Friday is not justified. As explained in the email [a 123 volunteer] sent, this was necessitated by the consistent violation of a long-established agreement to not drink in the space at regular program events.

We recognize this is a conflictual situation, that it is not the most comfortable position for people to be in, and that some people may be inclined to want to “stay out of it.” However, we don’t believe that one can be neutral on a moving train, so to speak, and that standing aside is actually passively condoning what is happening. Feel free to forward this email to anyone who you think might have input. As people involved in 123, various other projects and in the greater anarchist community, we have an interest in continuing working and/or friendly relationships with individuals affiliated with IOH. However, your stance and how this issue is resolved will undoubtedly affect these relationships, and we are asking that individuals involved in IOH and/or the group as a whole respond to this matter.

Jane Doe Books

Due to his abusive behavior, Thadeaus was banned from this feminist library and infoshop in Brooklyn that hosted events and programs such as Food Not Bombs from 2003-2005.

May Day Books

Statement by Lance Murdoch on January 10, 2010:

I can add another group to that list that has had a problem with Deadbolt, although the group is now defunct – May Day Books. I will go into the specifics later in this email.

I was a May Day volunteer and can state with some familiarity what our positions were with regards to Thadeaus. I was never involved with the Sawblade Collective or Food Not Bombs, and thus will refrain from stating what Deadbolt’s relationship with those groups was like. However, I can say that I think that would be relevant to the current discussion if anyone wants to contact members of those groups involved from 1999 to 2003 and ask about that, or if any of them are on this list and want to give comment.

I still feel some reticence in regards to this. I am not going to go into all of the details. I am not “out to get Deadbolt”. For myself and vis-a-vis Deadbolt and May Day, the issue is simply how Deadbolt relates to anarchist/anti-authoritarian groups, and whether his past history and involvement has been a boon or a burden to these groups. How he has related to anarchist groups in the past is my only topic of concern here. Your e-mail brings up other issues, but what I personally have to say only involves one aspect of what the statement has addressed.

I am not going to go into all the issues involved, just what I feel is relevant. One thing to note is May Day Books sub-leased from the Theatre for the New City, we did not control our own space in the same way Bluestockings does.

* On August 10, 2003, the Theatre for the New City stated they wanted May Day Books to be out of the Theatre within two months. My personal opinion is that in this case the Theatre was correct, and had been more than tolerant of a disrespect to the Theatre space from people associated in one fashion or another with May Day.

* On August 17th a meeting of the May Day collective and volunteers was called, which Thadeaus attended. A vote was called of whether Thadeaus should be suspended from May Day for two months. The minutes note that the motion carried in a vote of the collective.

To be fair to Thadeaus, I feel compelled to go into detail about this vote. The May Day rules at the time stated that ultimately the core collective members could make decisions about expulsions and so on. One of the rules was that a collective member had to attend at least one meeting a month. Three people at the meeting admitted that they did not attend at least one meeting every month, but that they felt that this was a case of rules lawyering and that the rule as stated was vague and had some wiggle room. The vote from those who regularly attended meetings to suspend Thadeaus was 5 to 2, with Thadeaus being one of the two to vote against suspension. The vote from all those present to suspend Thadeaus was 5 to 5, with Thadeaus voting against suspension.

* On August 20th, an emergency May Day meeting was convened, which Deadbolt attended. A variety of proposals were put forward with regards to Deadbolt’s status with the collective and whether he should be allowed in the space any more. According to the meeting minutes, no vote was taken as Deadbolt voluntarily agreed to leave May Day if items he had contributed to the collective were returned to him. This was agreed upon.

* Subsequently, May Day’ers began efforts to patch things up with the Theatre, began volunteering to help out around the theatre, and the Theatre management changed its mind and let May Day stay around, which it continued to do for over three years past this meeting.

My personal opinion is Deadbolt’s involvement with May Day did more harm than good to the group, and I think the fact that the collective voted to suspend him three days before he voluntarily quit amidst proposals to expel him bears that out.

I am only addressing one aspect of the statement, obviously the accusations regarding Deadbolt and violence and snitching are other aspects the statement addressed.

Putting all of this aside, and speaking more generally, there are different forms of anarchist organizations out there, such as the affinity group. An affinity group is a natural type of group for humans, as such groups have existed since the dawn of humanity in hunter-gatherer bands. While everyone has their quirks and cause problems from time to time, there are some individuals who cause great harm to the affinity groups or affinity-like groups – they don’t treat other members with respect, they cause problems between the group and others, and they cause fractions and divisions within the group. Especially within an anarchist community, there are questions over whether an expulsion is authoritarian, of the deficiencies of remaining group members and so on. Ultimately, groups should simply expel these types of people from their midst. They ultimately create a lot of ill will among a group. These people are not being banished to the desert, they are simply incapable of working within the group. Perhaps it is even just a mis-match, perhaps they will find some other group they will get along with.

Because ultimately, authoritarian does not just mean a group expelling one member. That is a decision of a group of people, who all come to the same conclusion about one person, usually after giving them many chances, having many discussions with them and so on. There is also the authoritarianism of one person, who comes into a group of mostly harmonious, functional people and begins causing divisions, drama and even creating problems between the group and others. This is authoritarianism as well, the authoritarianism of an individual who has little to no respect of others. Staying silent and allowing an individual like this to bully people is allowing a kind of passively blessed authoritarianism to thrive. In this case, an active response to expel someone is what is lessening authoritarianism within the group, while passively doing nothing is increasing authoritarianism within the group.

%d bloggers like this: