Letter To Olympia From An Anarchist
Letter To Olympia From An Anarchist
I attended the march in Olympia on May Day. As I was involved in absolutely no illegal activity on that day, I feel no fear in speaking my mind. I saw everything that happened and was present from the beginning to the end of that day's activities. What I saw inspired, sickened and encouraged me. There were many good things that happened, just as there were many bad things. But most of those bad things were initiated and enacted by the police. I do not wish to give a blow-by-blow recounting of the actions of those involved, given that others have done this already. I wish to ask some questions.
The organizers of the march were hoping to use the days activities to send a message to the Olympia City Council so that they might make the town a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants and deserting soldiers. I do not think the council would have done what the organizers wanted, no matter how hard they tried. I do not think the council gives a shit. My belief in this is strengthened by the quickness with which they all changed their minds. They were looking for an excuse to justify their lack of concern. Without this excuse (the attacking of the banks) they would have played their little games until the idea of the resolution faded from the minds of the population and the activist community. I have watched many proposals to the council fade in such a manner. This one would have been no different.
The organizers and their supporters are now angry at whoever it was who broke the windows of two giant banks, banks which even they know are the vilest of institutions. They are angry because they view these militant actions as the reason why the proposal will never pass. Just as the council was looking for an excuse, the organizers themselves are looking for an excuse when in fact their proposal never had a chance. I in no way mean to denigrate their efforts or their goals. I merely believe they never had the slightest chance.
But I am troubled by more than this. The council, in case you all have forgotten, is trying to completely change our town. These people are in bed with the developers (link: http://www.olywip.org/site/page/issue/2008/04.html ) and want to make our town into a toxic mimicry of itself. They want to 'sell' Olympia to millionaire yuppies and push out all of the diversity which makes Olympia what it is. We have already seen The Manium closed down. Now we have the noise ordinance being pushed by Jeff Kingsbury. Soon we will have a sterilized city, stripped of its magic and culture. Like Seattle and Tacoma, Olympia will be destroyed piece by vital piece.
The council that wishes to do this to our town is the same council that the organizers and the supporters of the proposal were bowing before and begging to. After May Day, I have seen the council and The Olympian newspaper trying to foster divisions between everyone. They want us all to fight each other while they prepare to stuff their pockets with even more kickbacks. One council member wants the organizers to publicly condemn and denounce what happened on May Day. They are all playing a very obvious game. Obvious to me, at least.
I did not grow up in Olympia, nor have I lived there for over a decade. But I spent enough of my life there to feel connected to and completely love it for the beautiful place that it is. I have watched and been part of the 'activist scene' long enough to see the same repetitive behaviors lead nowhere again and again. And now I am scared and furious. The capitalists are poised to invade. And what are people doing? Fighting each other.
Usually I would roll my eyes and wait for the drama to end, but this time it is different. Yes, someone could have gotten hurt inside the banks. Yes, people probably felt unsafe. Yes, immigrants rights groups will probably never come back. But May Day is not for any single purpose. May Day is not just a day for us to dance and feel good (this goes on every day in Olympia). May Day is an ANARCHIST holiday, memorializing the murder of anarchists by the State. If you look at what happens on May Day across the world (link: http://bombsandshields.blogspot.com/ ), you will see a wide variety of actions. In Olympia, anarchists decided to directly attack institutions they knew were guilty and complicit in the ongoing atrocities on this planet. That was their choice. And some of them are are having to deal with the wrath of the police because they happened to be pointed at by ignorant monkeys with badges.
So, what now? Do we condemn and condemn? Or do we take a step back and look at what is happening to Olympia? People talk about building a movement so much that it has become a buzz word. Anarchism, however, is quickly becoming a large, burgeoning movement in this country. The means with which it is becoming a bigger and bigger movement are not traditional and most dinosaurs cannot understand it. It is growing nevertheless. And Olympia happens to be full of anarchists. We will not go away, no matter how much the police attempt to scare us. May Day should make that obvious enough to everyone. The people wearing all black were in the minority that day. After the US Bank was hit, it was clear that the march was going to the Bank of America. Knowing what was going to happen (because it was verbally announced), the march WILLINGLY followed. After the police attacked, the people there WILLINGLY attempted to stop the police. May Day was not the work of a deranged minority. Nor was the Valentine's Day Uprising. Nor was the resistance at the port last year. They were all the work of EVERYONE who was there.
There are anarchists in Olympia. Deal with it. But don't let it take too much of your time. The condos and the ordinances are coming. We all have a common enemy (if we all oppose gentrification, that is). What are we going to do? Take the side of the greedy city council and their hired guns? Or do we work together to stop this take-over? Yes, the city council has power and they have dangled various carrots to various activists over the years. When will we stop falling for their tricks? We can debase ourselves and beg for concessions while attacking those who are getting in our way. Or we can unite (somehow, magically), and shut them down.
'People power' has also become a buzz word. We do have more power than they do, however. Even if they threw all of their police at us, we would still have more than they do. The council wants to make money for itself and sterilize Olympia. We cannot ask them to stop what they WANT to do. We have to MAKE them stop. They do not want to listen. The Olympian newspaper keeps pouring out State propaganda, the police continue brutalizing everyone, and the council keeps making making money.
I want to make myself clear to you, Olympia: WE NEED TO FIGHT THEM. I don't mean rocks. 'Fight' does not mean violence. Anarchists are not deranged lunatics. Neither am I. By fight I mean actively do whatever you can to stop them before Downtown Olympia looks like Ballard or Belltown. Fighting them can mean many things. Taking over an unused parking lot to house people. Building a garden on unused land. Stopping an eviction. Defying a closure order. Throwing rocks through windows. Attending city council meetings. Fighting means many things. But it does not mean begging. Stop playing their games. They wrote the rules and they will win unless we constantly break those rules.
I love you, Olympia. And I do not want you to vanish. We all have differences and we always will. We are all stuck in the same nightmare together, though. Everything is going to shit around us. It is easy to fight each other. It is hard to fight them. We have fought each other for long enough. Others have said what I have not said. I will leave it at this. Good night.
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