Guest Columnist #81: Philly's Pissed: Statement

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Three Women Raped at Pointless Fest
We came to Philly’s Pointless Fest this August to dance, catch-up with old friends, and share in the ideas/energy that stem from large gatherings of radicals and punks. In our amazing and evolving scene it is sometimes easy to forget how much further we have to go to become a loving community.  It is overwhelming to face the fear that we may never be strong enough to transform this scene into a sustainable, safe place where we are all comfortable and free from the shadows of the capitalist, racist, anti-queer, anti-woman, anti-trans, anti-life/love/fun culture at large.
At Pointless Fest, our illusions of support and safety in our community collapsed when Jacob Michael Wiese (Jake) raped two women and Timothy W. (Tim) raped another woman. 
The following is an account from the women’s group involved in the aftermath of these rapes.  We have written the following article in an attempt to support the survivors, squelch rumors, and to add to the dialogue of the various responses to rape. 
Three Women Raped, Two Rapists
All three women wish to have their identities remain anonymous.  We have created fictitious names for each of these ladies to cut down on confusion.  Please respect their wishes and refer to these women by these made-up names from here forward:   
On Friday (August 13), after a day of great music followed by drinking in the park with more music, two women went back to Jake and Tim’s hotel room to hang out with their new friends.  The immediate trust assumed to be found in our scene was violated when both women were raped.
Janice was raped by Jake on Friday night (Aug 13.)
Xena was raped by Tim on Friday night (Aug 13.)
On Saturday (August 14), as hundreds of us gathered laughing, drinking, dancing and rocking out at the height of Pointless Fest celebrations, a woman was raped by Jake. 
Rowanda was raped by Jake on Saturday night (Aug 14.)
A Rape at the Show
A small group of men and women from the Philadelphia community became aware of the Saturday night (August 14) rape shortly after it occurred.  There were mixed emotions, and it was a chaotic environment to attempt to process the situation.  Although we did not know the survivor’s wishes, there was a move to seek out the rapist and physically harm him.  We did not want to accost an innocent fitting the same description as Jake.  We knew that he had travel mates and that they all planned to be at the fest the next day, so we planned an early meeting to figure out the best response. 
Although, looking back on it, we are glad that we did not jump to a rash decision, the fear that Jake might assault another woman that very night kept us all from sleep.   
Meeting Preparation
On Saturday night and into the next day we gathered as much information as possible about Jake.  We had two reliable sources that could identify him with certainty.  We learned that he was from Minneapolis and had intended to return home directly after the fest.
By the time of the meeting, a second woman came forward as having also been raped by Jake.  Janice was raped by Jake on Friday night at a hotel in New Jersey.  One survivor had a digital photo of Jake from before the assaults.  This allowed for further confirmation that the same man had assaulted both Janice and Rowanda. 
The Planning Meeting
At the meeting on Sunday morning (Aug 15) we discussed how to best support the survivors.  We further deliberated on how to respond to the immediate threat of Jake’s presence at the fest. We wanted to let him know that the act of rape against two of our sisters would not be taken lightly and would be handled as the heinous atrocity that it is.   
We reacted with a sense of urgency, with an understanding that Jake might leave town without any interaction and most likely perpetuate these behaviors.  A productive dialogue with him expressing our disgust, anger, and disappointment was not possible.  We could not ensure that he got counseling or took the appropriate rehabilitative steps with such limited time.  We knew that kicking his ass and/or banning him from Philly would only push him away to other locations to commit the same act.  However, we viewed him as a threat to our community and to others.  We felt a responsibility to show him an immediate response to his actions as a first step in the rehabilitative process.  We decided that the only avenue open to us was a direct, physical confrontation with Jake.  We also decided that the confrontation would be acted out by women only.  We wanted to beat him down and take his ID to identify him to those is his hometown for follow-up treatment.  We intended to contact kids in Minneapolis to set-up a long-term plan to hold Jake responsible for his actions through a process of healing and growth so that he would hopefully never violate anyone ever again.
Rowanda had decided to press charges against Jake.  We assumed that the police would be called after the community had dealt with him.  At that time, Janice was undecided if she wanted to press charges with the police.
Following the meeting an additional survivor, Xena, came forward.  Jake’s travel companion, Tim, had raped her Friday night in the hotel room.  As this information was learned after the meeting and without an adequate discussion with Xena, we were unable to come up with a course of action for Tim until later that day. 
The Confrontation at the Fest
    The confrontation took place on Sunday at the Pointless Fest.  We gathered together as a group of women to show Jake a part of the anger we felt towards his actions and to hold him accountable for the pain that he caused. We gathered to show him that as sisters we stick together.  We were ready to kick the shit out of him.  Although we will not deny the emotion of this act, do not doubt that our every move was calculated and planned thoroughly.
We had full support from the organizers of Pointless Fest and we were working in collaboration with the fest bouncers to secure a spot away from the fest to physically and verbally confront Jake.  Our male allies helped us by keeping away men who wanted to spontaneously join in and to help keep the crowd informed of the nature of the situation. We felt it important for Jake to see female faces, voices, and bodies in a position of empowerment and strength in an interaction with a man who has stripped strength and empowerment from women.
     Unfortunately, as soon as Jake arrived and we gathered together, we were informed that someone had already called the police.  We assume that they were acting out of their desire to fulfill the survivor’s wish to have him arrested and out of their concern for the legal repercussions that we might face.  None of the women present wanted the police called for our own safety.  Ideally, the police would have been called after we had served the street justice intended. 
    One of us spoke with Jake alone for a few moments before he was surrounded.  He was asked if he knew why he was being confronted.  He said that he knew.  He was asked if he was aware that he had raped two women at the Fest.  He said he did not rape anyone and that he had an explanation.  He was given a chance to say what he liked but simply, repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. 
He trembled with fear as we pulled him into the alley.  We had to drag him by the neck and arms as he tried to shake us off of him. We were enraged and disgusted. We screamed that we knew he had raped two women. We demanded to know how many other women he had done this to.  It was one of the most intense, overwhelming scenes of our lives. So many of us have wished to confront our assaulters in a group of strong women but have not had the opportunity due to lack of support.
Once we wrestled him to the planned location of the confrontation, we each only got a few hits in before he begged us to let him talk again.  There was nothing he could say to deny two of the most cut and dry rape situations possible.  Against our better judgment we let him talk, but he had nothing to say. There can be no reasonable explanation for what he has done and we should not have wasted the time.  He screamed for onlookers to interfere with the confrontation.  We started to strike again.  Unfortunately, the pigs showed up and arrested him before we were through.
Jake waited in the police car while the cops took names and short statements from witnesses involved with Rowanda’s case.  During this time, Janice arrived on the scene and decided to provide a statement to the police.  At the same time, two of Jake’s friends came over to talk with some of us.  One of them was Tim, the rapist of Xena from Friday night. Only some of us knew that he was the man responsible for the rape as we had only received this information a couple of hours prior. He did not know that any of us were aware of his actions. We talked to him for about fifteen minutes as he defended Jake’s, and as it became clear, his own actions. He told us that Jake could not possibly have raped two women.  He said that Jake was drunk both nights and that he was sure it was just regrettable sex.
A few of us were taken to the police station to make a full report of the information we were witness to surrounding Rowanda’s case.  By this time all three survivors had undergone rape kits at Temple University Hospital.
Jake was taken into custody and charged with rape.  He was held at Philly’s main male facility, CFCF, under a one million-dollar bail. 
    While some of us were at the police station, others remained at the show for a follow-up with Tim and the fest attendants.  We went to a room provided for us by the Pointless Fest organizers to discuss the Tim situation. We learned that Xena did not want him physically hurt or arrested.  She wanted us to talk to him to in an attempt to make him realize the horrific experience he put her through.  In that room we also wrote a speech, divided up between five women, to read during the band Signal LostÕs set to explain what was going on and to squelch the rumors that were running like wildfire. We wanted to let people know that this was not a “witch hunt” based on hearsay and speculation.  We were well informed as to the details and severity of the situation from the survivors and we made a collective decision to act accordingly.  We, in the women’s group, stand by the decision to confront and physically harm Jake at that time.  In fact, we wish we did more. 
 For the most part, the crowd at Pointless Fest was attentive and supportive when we informed them of the recent events.  After we made the speech we went to talk to Tim, who was visibly shaken.  We brought him a short distance from the Fest with the support of a Pointless fest bouncer under the open agreement that we were not to touch him.  This was out of respect of Xena’s wishes. We told him that he had raped someone, we knew it, and that he needed to take responsibility for his actions and get help. We told him that the only reason we were not going to harm him was because Xena did not wish it. When we finished detailing the pain he had caused her, he pronounced a selfish desire to protect his social life.  He agreed and understood that something bad happened, but denied rape.  He asked us repeatedly if he could come back to Pointless Fest next year and wanted to know if he would be allowed back in Philly.  At no time did he show any concern for Xena.  At no time did he acknowledge the gravity of the situation aside from his own needs.  The bouncer told Tim that the least of his concerns was coming back to Philly. He told Tim to get help because if he didn’t and the women didn’t get him, then he would.  We told Tim that we and a group of kids in Minneapolis interested in doing follow-up with him would contact him soon. We told him to leave the Fest immediately. 
Survivor’s Demands:
      The names of the survivors will not be disclosed.  For personal reasons, Rowanda does not wish to be contacted on this matter any further.  All questions, offers of support, or similar communication for Janice or Xena will go through us to them.  Our contact is listed at the bottom of this article and we will respond to mature and honest correspondence.  Any identifying information of the survivors disclosed by Jake, Tim, or anyone else will not be tolerated.
      Rowanda would like Jake to be dealt with by the criminal justice system.  Janice has not decided if she can go through the further trauma involved with pressing charges against Jake.  Demands of Tim are that he rehabilitates himself through the support of radical communities, own up to what he did, and not contact Xena or her friends and family. This is being achieved though the wonderful support of a Minneapolis collective.
Many meetings have been and will be held among Philly’s women’s group and a newly formed men’s group to provide support for the survivors and hold the assaulters responsible.  A collective from Minneapolis approached our group immediately so they could start the same process in Minneapolis.  They have organized themselves in conjunction with us to fulfill the survivors' demands. The Minneapolis group will be releasing a statement on their actions and progress.
We have met with all three survivors and we are incredibly inspired by their strength in dealing with these abhorrent circumstances.  Most of us have been through similar situations and have been emotionally destroyed and debilitated compared to these strong women.  
     There are currently two gender-based groups working together in Philly to support Janice and Xena.  Rowanda would like to handle this situation on her own and has declined further support from our group.  We recognize that reactions to this situation vary, are honoring her request, and wish her well.  We hope to make further steps to support survivors and rehabilitate assaulters as a permanent alternative to the prison industrial complex.
Update On Jake
     Jake was arraigned Tuesday August 24th. At the arraignment, Jake’s bail was lowered because he was no longer considered a flight risk. His parents hired a lawyer and came to Philly for his arraignment.  The judge was convinced that his family was supportive and would return again for his preliminary trial.  He was discharged from CFCF on Wednesday, August 25th. His first court date is in mid October.
Update on Tim
Tim agreed to meet with a five-person committee, set up by the Minneapolis collective to help him get counseling and provide him with mentors.  A couple of days before the meeting his mother got involved in the planning and suggested that she attend the meeting.  When Tim was late for the meeting the collective called him and he said he was not coming to the meeting and that he did not want to receive any more calls on the subject.  Due to mitigating circumstances, we are not yet prepared to release Tim W.'s full name.
     Creating systems of support and rehabilitation are tantamount to our goals as radicals. All of the work we do in our communities and lives to create sustainable alternatives are inter-related.  Each activity created towards social change, whether it is D.I.Y record labels and show spaces, urban gardening, direct action, or free food service, is important and deserves attention and support from everyone in our radical culture. We cannot express thoroughly, poignantly enough our disappointment in the lack of real attention given to gender, sexual assault, and sexual orientation issues.  To truly have a radical community that exists as a safe space for all, we need to get ourselves together on sexual assault issues.
Since our small core group of Philly’s Pissed women have been dealing with the repercussions of Jake’s and Tim’s actions in our community, some of us have felt alienated and devalued, at least part of the time. Some of us have felt frustration with the lack of urgency in our scene to respond to the survivors’ needs and support the assaulters’ rehabilitation. We understand that it is confusing to know what to do, what to say, how to help; but discussing that in and of itself, just communicating confusion and being lost, are crucial steps. 
Some of us have also felt a lack of support for ourselves, and what we are going through.  We have felt that many people in our community do not realize that trying to work, process, support, and help the women and men involved in this terrible situation also brings up in many of us our own experiences with assault.  Nothing about this has been easy for anyone involved - it has required and is still requiring long days and nights that are shouldered by an unfortunately small group of both women and men, and whole lifetimes of work for the survivors and assaulters.  It has become painfully clear that the very language and open doors of communication to deal with these situations do not exist, even in communities that pride themselves on awareness and understanding.
Like all of the baggage of the capitalist, hierarchical, oppressive system that we carry, we will heal and resolve these issues of patriarchy. We will relish the support of each other, no matter how small it is to begin with, and use each other’s strength to build the world we need. Watching the men in Philly organize with these expressed goals of supporting the survivors, working with the assaulters, and supporting Philly’s women has been appreciated and inspiring.
     Rape hurts us in way that cannot be measured with words. The enormous battle we as rape survivors have to win to be able to simply kiss who we want to kiss, to sleep with who we want to sleep with, in healthy, positive ways, is frighteningly pervasive in our lives. The ways we react to sexual assault, as a community, needs to grow with the women and men who survive rape. We need to be able to trust that people around us will support our process of healing. We need to trust that we will not be gossiped about in a trite, pathetic fashion if we come forward.  We need to be able to trust our communities will not put us on the witness stand, devaluing us as members of this community. We need to trust that sexual assault and rape of men and transgendered persons will be taken as seriously and with as much support as that of women.  We need to stand together to not only say FUCK NO to rape, but FUCK YES to dealing with everything necessary to build a world where people do not rape. We must say FUCK YES to a world where we can handle the aggression, mental illness, instability, and processes of socialization in rapists as communities to support their rehabilitation and change.  We demand a world where we can overcome even the deepest ingrained aspects of our capitalist world and grow into healthy individuals within a caring community.