Capitalism is a bludgeon, but hope is a titanium-infused rock with an Adamantium core. This week brings us stories of sweeps, backstabbing government agencies, widespread corporate greed, and regressive taxation. Enter the Hellhole: 4/20 for lyfe.
Seattle Cops Not Even Bothering With Pretense Anymore
Seattle residents experiencing homelessness were swept from Ravenna Woods on Tuesday, pushed out of a place where they had built shelter and some degree of stability by the SPD. Members of the Seattle Peoples Party, Seattle DSA, Socialist Alternative, Seattle ISO, and the Puget Sound Socialist Party attempted to prevent the sweep from occurring by blocking the path of police vehicles from reaching it. Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr. of the Seattle Peoples Party had built relationships with those living in the camp and took the lead on organizing this action at the request of the camps residents.
Heartbroken and disappointed that we could save the shelters at Ravenna Woods. We tried our best and the activist who showed up today should be proud. But where will the residents sleep tonight? How long can they survive? pic.twitter.com/BYmsT1Pax5
— Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr. (@daedaejr) April 18, 2018
After failing to deter the protest line through intimidation and threats of arrest, the SPD and “Navigation Team” ultimately cut a physical path through the forest on a hill behind the protest line to gain access to the encampment. They cordoned off the area by designating it a “work zone” (if anyone other than an officer entered the work zone they would be arrested) and took to destroying the shelters by hand and throwing away the residents belongings — some laughing as they did so. Once the camp was destroyed, they left.
As the vehicles could not gain access, they left the remnants of the destroyed shelter there overnight. Around 7:30 the next morning the residents who had come back and slept at the site were met with bulldozers, garbage trucks, and police vehicles. Even though activists could not stop the sweep, they were able to buy the residents time to secure their belongings and provide them supplies and support.
What's left of the Ravenna Woods encampment this morning. Bulldozers and dump trucks came at 7:30 this morning. Where's the accountability @MayorJenny @CMRobJohnson? Is this how you treat the most vulnerable in society? pic.twitter.com/eC38acDTE4
— Keaton ☭ ? (@Keatronn) April 18, 2018
The actions of the SPD expose the lie that these sweeps are being carried out for “humanitarian” reasons. There is no humanity found in destroying the only shelter people have and scattering them throughout the city. This is capitalist violence: Demonize the unhoused to make the wealthier among the working class loathe them; make their lives so horrible that people on the cusp of poverty and homelessness themselves fear fighting the system to avoid any association with their less fortunate brothers and sisters; and destroy and scatter any community that unhoused people create. Housing is a human right.
It’s A Day The Ends In “Y”, So It’s Time For Amazon To Exploit Some Workers
Amazon released a report Wednesday with data about the pay for company employees. While the tech workers in Seattle are making the six figure incomes that increasingly make them the only people capable of affording to live here, the median pay for the company is only $28,446.
This represents all of the warehouse and logistics workers that the company is built upon – the “good jobs” that states are paying Amazon to create and then being forced to subsidize when fair wages don’t materialize. The workers who struggle under brutal conditions and demands in order to keep shipments flowing, knowing that failing to meet these expectations or demanding better could easily result in their firing and replacement. Even if they can keep their job in the present, the company is seeking to automate away every human job they can to increase profits. These low wage jobs are the exploitation that Amazon uses to expand its empire, until it finalizes its super-monopoly. The only joke here is the that Bezos would hesitate to implement workplace slavery if he thought he could get away with it.
— Ronan Price (@RonanPrice) April 20, 2018
Speaking of Bezos, as compensation as CEO, he earned $1,681,840 last year. Amazon says $1.6 million of that was for his security? How strange it is that one of the richest men in the world, who has built an empire on exploitation, displaces people and reshapes cities to his whims, and doesn’t even bother to engage in self aggrandizing liberal philanthropy would feel that he needs to spend so much to protect himself. We think that people might like him more if he paid his fair share and the resources of Amazon were being used for the betterment of all. How about it Jeff?
Mayor Pitches Education Against Displacement
Mayor Durkan released a proposal earlier this week to raise additional education funding through property taxes. Education is extremely important and it’s nice to see that the proposal includes a exemption for ‘qualified’ low-income seniors and people with disabilities. This does nothing, however, to help the issues of displacement that are impacting everyone else.
Our city and state needs to find more progressive revenue sources to fund education, instead of relying on ever-increasing property taxes. A home should not be an investment or a commodity, and until we can guarantee housing as a right, we should do all we can to keep housing costs affordable. We’ve seen what Seattle does to those who end up experiencing homelessness.
Back to Jeff Bezos, think about how great the education in Washington would be if it had an additional $90 billion to use democratically? Let us know when you want to talk!
Opposite Day Sanctuary State
The Department of Licensing has started to release data about how often information was shared with ICE before the practice was revealed. The sharing directly impacted around 900 people and who knows how many innumerable more family and friends. Good work on the whole sanctuary state thing, DOL, a real credit to the idea. What’s that, Seattle City Light also was sharing customer information with ICE? Oh, but only for drug enforcement? Sure, we’ll trust ICE on that. Especially since we all know that the drug war isn’t a pretense for heavily racialized policing itself.
Washington needs to be held accountable to follow through its posturing with concrete action. Until then, if you see ICE in your neighborhood, you can get in touch with the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network to support our at-risk communities. You can also come out to a meeting of our Immigrant and Refugee Justice Committee.
From the Weathered Peaks of Appalachia to the Primordial Depths of the Grand Canyon
The Hellhole team strives to bring you the most important breaking news whatever we feel like writing about each week, which as it turns out always happens to include “workers standing up for their rights against all who’d sacrifice them.” Educators in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and now Arizona have stood up against years and decades of cuts, mistreatments, and poor conditions.
ARIZONA TEACHERS ARE GOING TO STRIKE AND IT FUCKING RULES. ARIZONA TEACHERS ARE GOING TO STRIKE AND IT FUCKING RULES. ARIZONA TEACHERS ARE GOING TO STRIKE AND IT FUCKING RULES. ARIZONA TEACHERS ARE GOING TO STRIKE AND IT FUCKING RULES. ARIZONA TEACHERS ARE GOING TO STRIKE AND IT
— AZ TEACHER STRIKE SUPPORTER (@DariaButGay) April 20, 2018
Teachers will walk out on April 26 in their first-ever statewide action, saying that their governor’s proposed 20% teacher pay raise by 2020 would likely do more harm than good, sapping funds from an already cash-strapped education system. You’ll surely hear the right-wing talking point (whether it comes from Democrats or Republicans) that striking public employees are greedy – don’t believe it for a second. It’s not greed to fight for the value of one’s labor, and surely not to fight for a better educational system for the children in their care. Best of luck next Thursday and always to workers everywhere ✊
Come Meet The Gang!
Have you joined DSA online but haven’t had a chance to check out a meeting? Or maybe you’ve attended a few events but you’re still struggling to remember everybody’s names? Perhaps you’re not a member yet but you’re feeling socialism-curious? Or are you a long-time leftwinger but new to Seattle?
Later today at 6pm, Seattle DSA is having a New Member Happy Hour, this time at Big Time Brewery in the University District. Put on by our Internal Organizing Committee, this social gives you a chance to get to know other SDSA-ers and learn about what projects & campaigns we’re up to in a fun & causal environment. Split a pitcher ?, share some nachos, and build some camaraderie!
? Get involved with Seattle Democratic Socialists of America ?
Hellhole is written by members of the Seattle DSA communications team. Unless expressly stated, Dispatches do not necessarily reflect the views of Seattle DSA as an organization or its leadership.