• Enter search term(s):


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



Recent Posts

A letter sent to a friend re community accountability

Date: April 29, 2011

Dear *****,

I understand that Olympia community has made efforts to hold this person accountable, and they have been unsuccessful. I understand that she may be dangerous and you want to protect members of your community. But I have doubts about banning her from social and activist spaces upon arrival in Eugene.

Eugene has an organised radical and activist spaces in which enough people take sexual assault seriously. I think it’s perfectly reasonable and sensible to warn people about this individual so that people in your community don’t get hurt. But if she is banned from social spaces where people take sexual assault seriously, she would only move on to spaces that do not take similar precautions, where people will not have been warned about her history and are likely to get hurt. And if she cannot enter the Eugene activist scene where people could be warned about her history at all, she would move on to the less organised, less informed cities and communities.

I feel that community accountability is an ongoing process, and even if she has failed to make improvements in Olympia, I don’t think that she cannot be rehabilitated. By banning her from social and activist spaces, we also fail at continuing the gruesome process of community accountability. I don’t fault Olympia community for giving up on her, because they have made efforts and couldn’t continue to let her hurt members of their community. But the Eugene community hasn’t made efforts yet.

Without a commitment to taking risks and making at least some efforts to engage with the offender, believing in her humanity and capacity for change, we are no better than the prison system. Besides, banning her from every social and activist spaces in the entire world is clearly not a viable strategy, as it is impossible and she will eventually find an unsuspecting community in which she can continue to hurt many more people.

We should definitely warn members of our communities about this individual and her violent history, but we need to also give her a chance to be part of the Eugene community–not necessarily because she deserves it, but because excluding her is not the solution. As I said I do not fault the Olympia community for having to exclude her after making serious efforts to hold her accountable, but I worry that excluding her upon arrival would only push her to other cities where nobody knows her history. Community accountability can fail but we cannot fail ourselves before we even try.



No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply