The Hellhole – Week of 1/7

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A brick wall painted white with the title "Seattle Hellhole" and subtitle "The Wall is so trash, it could be president or CEO someday."
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Federal workers stand up against the Federal Shutdown

78% of workers are live paycheck to paycheck. The current federal shutdown magnifies this. There are 75,525 federal workers in Washington. Many outside this figure are contractors, a process exacerbated by the Bush administration, where private employees do work that would otherwise be done (and protected under slightly stringent labor law) by public employees. Contractors are always precarious (which is the appeal to employers) and suffer from fewer protections or avenues for recourse. Contractors may end up going without back pay that many federal employees will receive if the shutdown ever ends. Pain for the working class is the inevitable result of neoliberal policies enacted by capitalist politicians. Even a brief gap in pay will leave many unhoused come February and March, and although unemployment insurance may help, it’s hardly enough. How is government functioning in our slice of the world?

Mayor Durkan: Making it worse

Mayor Durkan willfully ignores Seattle’s most vulnerable residents. She ignores how many workers in this can’t make ends meet. 191 deaths (a new record) were recorded in 2018 among our unhoused neighbors county-wide. It seems that Durkan doesn’t care about the body count half as much as she does the property values (her own single-family home sold for $4.7m). Her task force on homelessness has no clear plan outside of setting up another task force/agency with the county. Making things worse and hoping that poor people just leave is one strategy to “solve” the housing crisis, but when contrasted with the possibility of taxing the rich and building public housing, it’s clearly stupid and barbaric.

Seattle PD and all the scrubs propping up oppression are cancelled

In Seattle, Charleena Lyles was killed after calling for help. Police officers shot her seven times in front of her children. A lawsuit against the officers, who violated their own, loosely unenforced departmental lethal force policy, were suspended just two days. Adding insult to injury, a civil suit from the family of Charleena Lyles against the officers, Steven McNew and Jason Anderson, has been dismissed by Judge Julie Spector.

In Tennessee, Cyntoia Brown attacked a man who was trafficking her against her will. She was recently granted clemency and an August 7 release date after being imprisoned since the age of 16. Cyntoia Brown is 31 years old. She was originally slated for 51 years. Think about that: calling the police can be a death sentence for Black womxn in America, and standing up for oneself can become a potential life sentence. Womxn deserve better.

Meanwhile, abusers like Harvey Weinstein and R. Kelly got away with, or continue to perpetuate their crimes for decades while scores of powerful people line up to protect them.

America is the land where abusers and human traffickers seemingly have more of a right to life than their victims. It is not enough to say that womxn deserve better than this and, often, men deserve to eat dirt. The money, position, and leverage that allow any man to coerce womxn must end. Consolidations of power that enable abusers must be torn down. Then and only then can we be free.

Paraeducator Strikes Spread Across Washington

Port Angeles paraeducators went on strike just before the holidays. Now, Kennewick paraeducators may take it to the streets: for their lives, for the kids they protect, and for the working class. Many paraeducators are left out of teacher bargaining agreements. Unless teacher unions carve out provisions for paraeducation, these support staff are left on the sidelines. We previously covered a nearby Pasco teacher who spoke up for nurses in her district who were left out as the teachers won improvements. Sadly, one could have decades in ER experience but be paid barely enough to make rent because experience outside schools isn’t calculated in the salary formulas.

Para educators picket in front of Kennewick School District building. Paras will vote on a strike a week from today. Teachers say they will strike with them.

Posted by KEPR Action News on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Another Blockhead in the Wall

Let’s take a look at the meta-commentary about the wall. Who does it center? Who stands to gain? Let’s put our Marxist hats and quickly analyze the discourse surrounding the racist goddamn wall.

To fret over who pays for the wall or how much the wall costs cedes ground to the far-right. The same goes for “technocratic” explanations that “well, actually, immigrants pay into social security and are a net positive to our welfare state.” To reduce workers to their potential economic value is explicitly a capitalist framework. It’s literally a formula Marx wrote about in Capital.

The wall is another form of anti-worker violence with the implicit goal of creating a second bracero program. These jobs are abusive and don’t pay near enough. The threat of deportation is so extreme that workers fear seeking medical treatment, as evidenced by the death of Honesto Silva Ibarra here in Washington. We must reject the wall as workers.

We also live in times where Representatives like noted smooth brain supremacist Steve King feel comfortable asking what’s wrong with racism. To understand the material conditions in the U.S., we must confront centuries of dispossession along racial, gender, indigenous, and immigration lines.

If we are to be anything at all, it will be because we’ve done it together. Not as ruthless exploiters but by creating stable, loving communities for all. That’s the world we want. That’s the world we can build from the dust of that damn wall.

Happy New Year! Let’s mess up a wall!

Because every damn person is important here.


Note: The Seattle Hellhole represents the views of its writers and does not represent official positions of Seattle DSA at large. Its writers are a collective working on independent pieces, editing, and design to deliver this each week. If you want to volunteer, join us in #wg_comms_design on Slack or email [email protected]

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