Karen Holmes

It’s a strange thing to attest to the good character of a friend online like this, moreover in response to (what I interpret as) a smear campaign. When I first learned of this “anti-Thadeaus movement” as I’ll call it, it was a disconcerting lesson in the darker potentialities of social anarchism: when we empower ourselves to take care of one another without relying on institutions to settle our disputes, things can get ugly. Things can also get awesome. I hope to support the latter by sharing my story.

I’ve known Thadeaus for almost two years now. We met online and soon after were romantically involved. His gentle nature, his brain and his commitment to creating a more conscious and compassionate world struck me. We spent time biking, dumpstering, making smoothies and talking about the world as it is, as we’d like it to be, and ways of making that transition. We also spoke specifically about the NYC anarchist community and how it was split regarding accusations against him. I appreciated his forthrightness and candidness: sharing with a potential new lover that there are people all over the city convinced you’re a sex offender isn’t exactly an easy conversation to have.

The intensity of the situation became apparent to me firsthand during a Rude Mechanical Orchestra show at the Lyceum in Brooklyn. At one point during the evening, a couple of folks marched up to me, Thadeaus and Bill of Times Up!. The woman in front was angry and yelling as she forcefully pushed Thadeaus up against the glass wall of the balcony area with her forearm. (I was later told she was associated with SupportNY though I can’t confirm this.) She continued very loudly yelling in his face and pinning him to the wall, while one or two people behind her seemingly functioned as “back up.” Her yelling consisted mostly of asking him “who he thought he was” or something similar, seeming to want some sort of explanation from him. Each time he’d begin to answer her (in a regular-volume voice) she would interrupt him immediately, screaming “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK!” or “SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU PIECE OF SHIT!” Those may not be exact quotes, but you get the idea: this was by no means a dialogue. Thadeaus remained calm, not even attempts at self-defense. It felt as if his unwillingness to fight back or raise his voice in some way was fueling her fire, as if she had initiated the interaction hoping to get a rise out of him to prove that he was violent.

Eventually she left with her friends, and we made it back downstairs to try and shake it off and enjoy the rest of the show. As someone who had recently become very inspired by the values of this community, I felt deflated, confused and infuriated. It was a huge bummer. Later, as I was dancing alone in the crowd, a different girl approached me with a stack of pamphlets, apologizing for bothering me and asking if I was with Thadeaus. She said she was trying to raise awareness about his questionable history and wanted me to educate myself on him. I told her how disappointed I was by the “communication” style of who I assumed was her comrade; she said they weren’t affiliated.

Hearing warnings about the person you are dating--especially when that person is larger and more powerful than you are--can create instant and powerful perceptual filters. In a heartbeat, the man standing in front of me went from kind and compassionate to evil and menacing. Suddenly everything this guy said about anything became a potential trick, a tactic to lure me into his traps. I noticed this filter and played with turning it on and off, checking in with my gut. Something about the energy of the “campaign” told me it was misled (and my experience with Thadeaus told me he was safe), but I definitely needed to have a longer and more extensive talk with him now before I was going to decide what I believed.

After a tip-off about violent offenders waiting at the door outside, we decided to leave sooner than later. We biked home in the rain and I grilled him for hours about the accusations and the details of his social and romantic relationships over the years. I watched his eyes; I paid attention to his body language; my intuition was in full effect as I felt my protective nature making an assessment about whether I’d been wrong all along about his character. I’ve come out believing that Thadeaus is far more of an asset to the community than a threat. And as far as that goes, I consider him no more of a threat than the next person: his imperfections, as well as the attempts he makes to work through them, mirror what I see in myself and those around me every day; nothing more, nothing less. What threatens me most is how dark the shadows of this example of social anarchism have become: simply because I’ve made a personal choice to hang out with my friend, I may be in danger of attack by association. And, there is someone who has almost completely lost his voice. Those to me are threats to healthy community worth raising awareness about.

I continue to experience Thadeaus as a generous friend and a dedicated, inspiring activist. I hope that a real mediation is able to happen and all voices are heard.

Karen Holmes