AN OPEN LETTER OF APOLOGY FROM BASH BACK DENVER TO JORDAN FROM APOC PHILLY
June 6, 2010,
In the lead up to the Bash Back 2010 convergence, Jordan from APOC Philly was banned from the convergence for being a perpetrator of sexual assault due to a case of mistaken identity. Bash Back Denver is truly sorry for this, and hopes that everyone will spread the word that Jordan IS NOT accused of sexual assault. The perpetrator is Jordan Opalanie, a white person who recently moved to Philly.
What follows is a brief outline of the process that occurred around this situation and what some of our mistakes were made, and some of the most troubling dynamics present in this situation.
In organizing for the 2010 Bash Back convergence this year, Bash Back Denver (the organizing collective for certain aspects of the convergence) was contacted and requested that a perpetrator of sexual assault who was banned from last years convergence be banned again. We we’re forwarded a series of emails from Chicago organizers that had banned an individual from the convergence last year, and informed that they had not entered an accountability process. These emails were passed on to the Sexual Assault Team. Previous, BBD had decided that aggressors who are not in/refusing accountability processes were not welcome in the convergence.
That email contained Jordan O’s facebook page and old contact information, as well as identifying information within the email. One of the collective members, Ariel Attack, was in charge of double-checking the information on Jordan O. After reading the email, Ariel assumed the identity to be Jordan from Philly based upon the information in the email and never checked the facebook page. Had they done this, Ariel clearly would have seen that the perpetrator was not Jordan from APOC Philly. Ben Yager, not in the collective but in the working group, took Ariel’s word on doublechecking this information but did not doublecheck himself.
The collective was never given identifying information on Jordan O beyond TJ (the name Jordan O used to go by and identified in the email), and decided to ban them from the convergence. The collective also decided to not contact Jordan about banning them from convergence; an email was sent last minute at the urging from Ben on the grounds that it was manipulative to not inform someone that they weren’t welcome at a convergence that they may be planning on attending.
The roots in this situation run much deeper than a person and collective making a series of mistakes; these mistakes and actions were influenced by white supremacy and oppression. An assumption was made about a male-bodied persyn of color about an accusation of sexual assault. Throughout history, this has been a tactic of white supremacy to target and murder people of color, and still today is rife within our society. Radical communities, especially radical communities of color, have initiated accountability processes and community response to sexual assault in their communities as a way to escape and combat the murderous prison industrial complex and the institutional white supremacy of our society. Not only do many (including the process used by BB Denver) of these processes in largely white communities fail to recognize these dynamics, they often recreate the exact situations these processes are trying to prevent and change and make assumptions surrounding the accusation of people of color and the role white supremacy plays in communities.
Even in this process of addressing this, BB Denver has failed in addressing the white supremacy of our actions. Many of us have tried to separate our actions from white supremacy, separate our apology, and distance ourselves from what we have done. We have been concerned about our reputations, here in Denver and further away. Our actions are racist and damaging, and if we are to be truly accountable we must be honest about our actions.
As a collective, we recognize that we fucked up and in a major way. We are sorry for what we have done, and apologize to Jordan and the wider community for this. We ask that individuals, even those not connected with this situation directly, spread this letter around to ensure that the false rumors that Jordan from APOC Philly is a perpetrator are negated, and that Jordan Opalanie in this situation is called out.