by Kevin Annett
The main square in Manchester, England was flooded with 10,000 and more people that morning in 1819 when cotton mill workers and their families gathered peacefully to demand the right to vote. An hour later, hundreds of them were dead, sabered and trampled down by the local yeoman cavalry in the pay of the wealthy landowners who ruled the nation. The bleeding crowd spilled in to the local Quaker Meeting House, where a commemorative banner showing the slaughter still hangs defiantly in the front hall.
The poet Percy Shelley lived nearby, and when he heard of the crime he hurried to the bloody square and angrily wrote these words about the Peterloo Massacre:
Rise like Lions after Slumber,
in unvanquishable number.
Shake your chains to earth like dew,
which in sleep had fallen on you.
Ye are Many; they are Few.
Today, I stood outside the Manchester Quaker House that had offered sanctuary to these targeted poor, and I bent down and placed a few small pieces of the pavement in my hand: relics which are literally soaked with the blood of these brave and remembered people. And I felt Shelley’s words born anew in my heart.
So little has changed in two centuries. Tyranny and violence may rule as strongly as ever, but so does an unbreakable determination to be free among so many men and women who I keep meeting on this speaking tour across Europe.
I came here to speak of the slaughter of Indian children by church and state in Canada, and I quickly found that the same crime was committed by the same actors in this nation: like that which was done to Doris Lloyd when she was forced to work as a slave laborer in a catholic orphanage at age three, and faced daily rape and torture.
In England, or Ireland, or Canada, the church and its state accomplice murdered, raped and enslaved children with impunity, and like the bloody Manchester yeomanry, got away with slaughtering so many.
Our gatherings are small, but filled with people like Doris, who stood for the first time and shared her struggle in the meeting where I was reading from my new book Unrepentant: Disrobing the Emperor. Across Denmark, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland, and England, I keep meeting people like Doris, and though few in number, we are sure of one another; and already our numbers are growing, for we are part of a wave of awakening.
Last week in Liverpool, six hundred people invaded a court room and tried to arrest a particularly corrupt judge who had imposed an unjust local council tax. The judge fled, and the police were helpless. For awhile, a common law court, free of crown and cruelty, was declared by the people there gathered. Their example, broadcast by You Tube around the world, is being taken up by free and sovereign people everywhere.
The survivors of genocide in Canada, and England, are part of this common law declaration of sovereignty, for too many of them have learned that the institutions of Crown and Church that caused the crime will never do the time. In what we call Vancouver, Canada, Sovereign ©Squamish / Skwxwú7mesh™ Government Siyam ©Kiapilanoq/CAPILANO™ ordered the Catholic, United and Anglican churches off his land recently because of their murder of his people, and he has now imposed a commercial lien on their property and assets. He is finished waiting for justice from bodies incapable of it.
Part of my work is to bring together Capilano and many like him into an International Tribunal that will place the guilty on trial, in true common law fashion. The opening session will be in London, England on September 12, but many gatherings will be held around the world at the same time to turn the tables on self-governing and unaccountable institutions like the Vatican and its other churchly counterparts. How? By imposing our own sentences on the churches and governments that stole land, murdered children and protect the guilty.
“Evict the bastards from their churches” declared one survivor of church torture to me this week in northern England, when I asked people what we should do to get justice.
“Take their collection plates and distribute the money to the crowds. Take over their bloody churches and start arresting the child rapists who hide out in there. We know who they are.”
England, unlike Canada, is a land of direct action rebels. Maybe in fleeing from persecution to somebody else’s land, Canadians forgot what it meant to say no to the powerful and do battle with them. But I was reminded today in the streets of Manchester that our ancestors won our liberties with their blood; and those rights can only be maintained and won again by the same courage and struggle.
Manchester has also made me remember our own recent martyrs in Vancouver, like William Combes, murdered in a hospital, and Bingo Dawson, beaten to death by three cops. Being aboriginal, neither man made the news, even when they led our protests against child-murdering churches. But like the Peterloo victims, their names and example are written forever on the hearts of those of us who are challenging the descending tyranny.
It’s time for more of you to join our thin but enduring ranks.