MAY THE FIRST: A Reflection On Olympia And The Future
Disclaimer: In no way does the following account accurately portray what took place in Olympia on the the first of May, 2008. There is far too much involved in what took place for any account to fully describe it. This author does not wish to claim any more accuracy in her accounting than another person who was there that day. This author merely wishes to share her thoughts. This account is purely fictional.
MAY THE FIRST 2007-2008: Or, A Reflection On The Future
I had the good fortune to be in Olympia when the first bubbles began to emerge from the cauldron.
Exactly one year prior to this last May Day, there was a fake takeover of a building in Downtown Olympia. A group calling itself the Olympia Chapter of the Eugene Anarchists sent out a communique which was directed towards the police and the city (link: http://olyimc.infotage.net/en/2007/05/669.shtml ), claiming that it had taken over the burnt-out Griswald's building. The communique demanded that the city council and the police department dissolve themselves.
When a 'journalist' from The Olympian arrived, the leftover crowd from the march convinced him that there were in fact people chained inside the building, waiting for their demands to be met. The police then later instructed this journalist and his employers to print nothing of this incident. The building was never taken over. This was obvious to many people. Despite this, months later, a friend walked past the building with someone who pointed at it and said:
"You know there's anarchists in that building?"
Before this prank, anarchists and families from Shelton marched together up to the Capitol. When they reached the traffic circle on the campus, a bunch of children and anarchists climbed onto the bronze statue of soldiers. While this happened the traffic circle was effectively shut down by the crowd. A Mexican flag and anarchist flags hung there until the children carrying them wanted to climb down. No one was arrested. There were only a few State Police with stupid hats. Earlier in the day a banner which read REVOLT was hung on the gazebo in Sylvester Park, the place where the day's march began. Both of these events, the hanging of the flags and the banner, were some of the things which influenced the immigrants rights group there that day to not return to Olympia for the next May Day.
In the time between May 1st 2007 and May 1st 2008, many act of rebellion and defiance occurred in Olympia. All of these events, and countless others, led to what is described in the following paragraphs.
The Olympian, the daily propaganda organ of the pigs, had recently printed an article concerning the vandalism epidemic at the Capitol. The outlines of a cirlce A were still clearly visible on one of the entranceway columns. Whoever accomplished this feat had to brave a desolate place where no human had any real business being. And now the poor Capitol had to pay $5000 to clean it up. A few days after this article was printed, when the May Day march reached the Capitol, a bunch of anarchists in the march stormed directly inside and covered the ornate, marble walls with markings. The wooden doors which were written on had to be removed and replaced. When they were done, the anarchists walked right out and marched with everyone to the City Hall.
After a few speeches, the march left and proceeded down Plum Street. While everyone was walking, it became clear that there was no one leading the march. No one knew the next destination. Was it the Port? Was it Downtown? Would the march end back in Sylvester Park? And then, suddenly, the march took a left onto 4th Avenue and proceeded to march the wrong way against traffic. For a few moments, while everyone dove into the center of Downtown, the cars were frozen all the way up to the bridge.
The corner of 4th and Capitol came closer. On that corner was the US Bank, the same bank that was attacked during the Port actions of the previous year. The people began to float alongside its windows. First there was one loud sound. And then many more. Two window were shattered. But the march did not stop. It continued onward for one block. Everyone saw what had just happened. So when the words "Bank of America" began to be thrown around, the crowd took a collective right. Knowing what had just happened to the US Bank, everyone continued walking. One hole appeared in a window. And then another. And then the whole fucking thing came down. And then the one next to it. And then people who had thrown the rocks had vanished. It was at this point that the police arrived.
They began to arbitrarily single out people in the crowd and attack them. Knowing what had just happened to the banks and what the police were doing to the targeted people, those in the "crowd" stopped being a crowd. They put their bodies between the pigs and their community. The did whatever they could do to stop, impede or otherwise hinder the twisted intentions of the cowards wearing badges.
Some birds escaped, others were caged. Filled with anger, the people who remained after the police left marched over to the jail. Riot police were placed at the entrance to the city jail and police station. When the hostages were taken away to the Thurston County Jail, the people left.
The US Bank later reported that it had suffered $4,500 worth of damage. Only two windows had been smashed. The Bank of America did not disclose the exact dollars worth of damage that was inflicted on the Downtown Olympia bank. Four windows, two of them far larger than the ones at the other bank, had been smashed. The Capitol has already spent $6,500 on imperfectly removing one circle A left on one of the columns.
Six people are now being charged with felonies.
The City of Olympia has been trying to pit people in the community against each other following this incident. They used the attacks as an excuse to reject a proposal which would make Olympia a legal sanctuary for war resisters and undocumented immigrants. One member of the City Council demanded that an organizer publicly condemn the actions of May the first. Fortunately, that person did not do that and refused to obey the rules that she set down.
Another City Council member publicly used the shattering of the bank windows as an excuse to reject the proposal. On the night of May the first, his business was attacked by a group calling itself GROUP Two of his windows were smashed out and a wall was tagged. His business is directly across from where the Crimethinc. factory once resided (link: http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2008/05/266318.shtml ). In the headlines of the local paper, a "group" was constantly being mentioned. According to the paper, everyone in the march was one homogeneous group. By doing this, the paper was trying to aid the police in attempting to link everyone at the march with the attacks. I can only assume that the anonymous attackers were attempting to ridicule the idea of this "group" by calling themselves GROUP. If they wish to correct me, they should.
The worst thing that the Council attempted to do, however, was to obscure another aspect of their corruption. The Council, which had its pockets stuffed by developers prior to the elections, is ready to begin drooling out condominiums. Because of the Council's carrot waving, they are trying to keep themselves immune from criticism of their actions. If everyone is trying kiss their asses, they can do whatever they want. And that is exactly what they want: people kissing their asses.
Some people have allowed the City Council, the Thurston County Sherrif's and The Olympian newspaper to frame the debate a certain way. All three of these entities are now trying to push the message that May Day is specifically for workers and immigrants rights and only those things. They are are trying to push the view that the only way to win those rights is through reform, through their system of violence. They are trying to separate May Day from anarchy. They are trying to pit the liberals against everyone else by convincing them that people harmed the "community" by attacking two gigantic national banks. They are trying to create a group of docile, ignorant liberals who will encircle "anti-social protesters" and turn them into the police. They are championing the cause of non-violence while enacting violence on the population of Olympia every day. They are drawing an imaginary line between those who are justly fed up with the system and those who still have one thing the others do not: Money. The only way to reap the rewards of this system is to have this system's currency. Many of the people who believe in non-violence have plenty of money and have never felt a police baton. Many of the people who believe in non-violence gain a lot for believing in this system.
Some people have allowed this framing of the debate to take place by doing one thing: having the slightest hope in the ability of the system to work against itself. Their hope further divides those of us working against this system's machinations through the sheer irrationality of that hope. Despite the knowledge that the world is falling apart, people still hope that something will click, that they will find the remote control, that this is just a nightmare; they hope that the concentration camps will disappear of their own accord, that the war will magically end, that they will not have to surrender any of their wealth or comfort in order to stop the fire burning all around them; they will find none of these things. Their hopes are hopeless. And one day it will be too late.
I have seen this pattern in many towns and in many activist communities. I have watched people become divided, morose and resigned to ineffectiveness. I have watched people being pushed out of cities because they are too "violent", "divisive" and "destructive". I have seen the people who pushed them out sit idly in their comfort, going to endless meetings, accomplishing nothing. I have seen everyone with a new idea in their heads ridiculed and derided out of fear, jealousy and bitterness. I have watched people prey on each other. I have watched something malignant and widespread tear holes in countless scenes across the US. I have watched the bombs fall on the screen and watched the years roll on. I have seen endless boredom and despair. I have seen desperation and rage, struggling to explode out of the skulls of those infected.
If you have seen these things as well, you are most assuredly not alone. I also want you to know that there are many others like you. All of our models have been destroyed. Now we must design the new prototypes and be ready to discard them at a moments notice. What I saw in Olympia on the May the first is beyond my powers of description. It was the sheer energy of what is brewing atop a fire that is in no one's hands. There is no way to quantify it. Many people see many things. But at heart it was merely people, acting in the moment. What I saw was not something proscribed or planned. What I saw was rebellion, plain and simple. Such a thing does exists, and it has no boundaries, despite our best efforts to give it some.
Olympia is not singular. Olympia is not the new Eugene. Eugene is not the Mecca of anarchy, nor was it ever at any time in the past. What is happening in Olympia is not confined to its borders. What is happening in the Northwest United States is not confined to its borders. What you have been seeing in Olympia is the the product of what you are seeing everywhere: mass dissatisfaction. You are fully capable of doing exactly what people in Olympia have been doing. All it takes is standing up.
I cannot explain to you what it has been like watching this area over the past year. I do not think anyone could give you the key to what is happening or the recipe for replicating it. There is no recipe, nor is there anything that I or anyone else can visibly see. Despite this lack of a recipe, it is happening all over the place. Just dig a little bit, and you will see constellations of fire dotting the maps. Do not look at anarchist websites or other news sources. Look outside.
I watched people walk into a brick wall in Olympia. And then I saw them begin to swing at it with sledge hammers. Perhaps you have been inspired by what you have seen out here. I want you to know that you are no different than any else in the Cascadia. If you already know these things, then you know that this will not stop. Not in Olympia. Not anywhere.
There were people inside the US Bank and Bank of America when rocks flew threw the windows and fell to the ground. I do not know what those people were thinking when this happened. But I know it was the first time such a thing had happened to them. People in Olympia are having to live in a world that is changing and not remaining static. A storm is coming. A wave is about to break. Its cresting has been slowed down, as in slow-motion footage. But no matter how long the camera may artificially preserve the build up of the wave on the screen, the real wave will have already crested and broken in the real world, throwing its water onto the shore. Our ankles are starting to get wet, and the water is cold. That water is still coming. And there are many more waves ahead.
It is my hope that we can learn to deal with these waves, together. And not get scared.
Your Loving Friend,
link to bp0.blogger.com
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