The following statement is from the Black Orchid Collective and other Seattle organizers. It is in response to a series of raids in Seattle the morning of July 1oth.
Early Tuesday morning, the Seattle Police Department raided the home of our friends, community members, and key organizers in Decolonize/Occupy Seattle and the Red Spark Collective. They were faced with assault rifles to their heads, flash bang grenades and an armed SWAT team.
The Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) harassment of our community has been ongoing. Only two weeks ago during Pride weekend, they attacked our friends. Before that, they arrested members of the Decolonize/Occupy community for disrupting the mayor’s bogus meet and greet, a continual shielding of the SPD’s record of police brutality. The continual harassment by SPD is not surprising. It is their modus operandi. Their lousy attempts at renewing their image with the “SPD 20/20” further disgusts us.
The violent raid against our friends this week, in search of “anarchist materials” did not happen in a vacuum. These are times of mass social movements around the world. People are resisting in Seattle, across this country, and across the world. The powers that be fear these struggles will spread and they do their best to intimidate and stifle our dynamism.
Global anti-capitalist forces face constant terrorism from police working for the global power elite. They will always find excuses to delegitimize us and to further prop themselves up as the bearer of public safety and welfare. Over the last few months, there have been several shootings in the city, in the Central District, the North end and South end. The police have used this as an excuse to militarize the streets, overcompensating through extreme policing and tactics, legitimizing their racial profiling and repression of people of color and poor folks in particular. This is the story you’ll never hear about Seattle’s militarized racist police force. We remember John T Williams and Oscar Grant and are in solidarity with anyone who has experience police/ military repression and state violence.
We do not forget for a moment that the trauma and fear our friends experienced this past week takes place often in im/migrant communities during ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids. As radicals we understand the complexities of the legal system in relation to how the state reacts to resistance. They scare us, intimidate us, arrest us, and dehumanize us, hoping that in the process that we, too, take out our anger on one another, so that our communities break down. We will not fall for that.
It is important for us to understand certain patterns in the police responses to the national Decolonize/Occupy movement. The police have justified their use of excessive force against many of us by claiming that we are all dangerous anarchists. In their book, anyone whose organizing is threatening to the status quo is depicted as “anarchists,” “black block,” and dangerous threats to public safety. They want to divide us into good protesters and bad protesters. The “good” protesters, in their eyes, do not inherently create an ideological threat to the exploitative foundations of the existing system with their organizing. The “bad protesters” however, do not follow their rules of engagement. We threaten the status quo. It is in the interest of the state to affirm the “good protesters,” so as to upkeep a pretense of free speech and democracy. Given that the facade of democracy is the excuse that the US military uses in its war efforts, it would be a shame if there was not a pretense at keeping it in the home country. Failing to understand the ideological reasons why the state props up “good protesters” over “bad protesters,” through the tactics of “anarchist baiting,” will cause us to debate endlessly about which tactic is more effective than others in changing the system. This not only causes us to attack one another, but is also a distraction. Being used by the state to delegitimize other political forces is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of being manipulated. Hopefully, the broader Decolonize/Occupy Seattle community is smarter than that and this is not a trap we will fall for. Even as we may disagree with one another’s politics and tactics, we will understand that an injury to one is an injury to all. We refuse to let our differences strengthen the legitimacy of police violence.
Generating fear and paranoia were the goals of the SPD on Tuesday, when the SWAT team broke the door with guns drawn, threw concussion grenades, and yanked people, including two female bodied people, out of their beds without allowing them to clothe themselves. Folks were held cuffed in a room while the police confiscated clothing and literature. The unnecessary trauma inflicted on these people through militarized police terrorism tactics was a result of the SPD’s goal to prevent further organizing. The organizing in this house involves building community gardens, holding community potlucks, organizing to shut down the juvenile prison (through healthy, supportive, healing alternatives), fighting gentrification, and hosting a completely free music, arts, and politics festival. The organizers in the house are resisting through creating and empowering. In opposition, the police are attempting to destroy through inflicting fear and trauma. Our community immediately mobilized to support the needs of our comrades as they dealt with the violence of the increasingly militarized Seattle Police. Our bonds and communities are only strengthening through this oppression.
We will continue to combat fear and trauma with love and resistance.