Biden-Harris Celebrations are a detriment to the real work happening in the streets.
Nov. 30 marked the sixth consecutive month of daily protests in Seattle since they began in May following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis PD. Since their beginning, many of us have been in the streets demanding change and/or providing mutual aid in the form of jail support, community defense, supply exchange, resource donations and more.
The initial turn out was incredible, and for several months thereafter we saw hundreds, if not thousands, daily. Over time though there was a loss in momentum, slowly we saw the numbers dwindle, and recently turnout has been sparse compared to the numbers we saw back in May. The constant abuse from SPD officers, the targeting and tracking of protesters, severe injuries and trauma, and the need for a rotating wardrobe with more advanced gear in order to protect ourselves from SPD along with other threats have all contributed to the decrease in turnout. In addition to the more mundane issues of inclement weather and general burnout.
Beyond that, it would be disingenuous to leave out the effects that C.H.A.Z. had on the movement as well. The very foundations of the Autonomous Zone were revolutionary. To have created a space for free and radical thought on the very ground that the SPD used to occupy was surreal. To walk on the ground that used to be held by the oppressor and feel a sense of community was powerful, and it felt like real and meaningful change was surely coming.
But months after the forced abandonment of the Autonomous Zone we have seen no major advancements for the movement. To have lost that safe place — well, as safe as any space can really be — to not only discuss radical change and ways to obtain it, but also begin to practice radical forms of community mutual aid, and a reorganization and reprioritization of society was devastating. It was hard for many to regain the same sense of optimism and passion around the movement after that.
Despite the fact that the Autonomous Zone as we knew it is no longer standing, rising from those ashes we see new and powerful ideas taking form and being realized in creative ways. What we are witnessing is the evolution of strategy.
We are seeing people adapt to SPD tactics, fewer bodies at demonstrations and the ever-changing political scene. Beyond that, networks are forming to share crucial information with trusted individuals while also providing aid to demonstrators along with the community. One incredible example of this is the Capital Hill Community Center, working where C.H.A.Z. used to be to support the houseless community and activists.
Revolutionary action has been happening in the streets of Seattle daily for six months. A commitment to true justice and equality and a demand for the United States of America to do better. A demand that the institution of Policing no longer be able to terrorize our communities and keep us at the mercy of our oppressors. But the day after the election we saw the opposite of this.
Huge crowds gathered in the streets to celebrate the victory of yet another old, white, conservative, imperialist, man to the highest office in the land. To step into the streets and claim victory at the election of Joe Biden, a contributing author of the Crime Bill, a man who opposed reproductive rights as well as the rights of those in the LGBTQ+ community for most of his career is egregious. A man whose entire campaign was based on the fact that he is the middle ground between the democrats and the republicans, when even the democrats are not offering what we need right now.
The Vice President-elect is no better on this front, beginning her career as a prosecutor before moving on to become the district attorney. During this time Harris refused to act in any meaningful way on criminal justice reform, essentially giving Police Officers a free pass. Further, her actions as district attorney failed to create change for those that needed it most, and in fact, at times was actively harmful to people of color and trans individuals. To celebrate their victory is to celebrate the return to the status quo and the oppression of minorities, these so-called celebrations mock the legacy of the real work being done in the streets.
Anything that can be accomplished by a Presidential Administration in four years can be torn down twice as fast by the following administration. There have been no victories. There is nothing to celebrate. The occupant of the White House is only a backdrop to the real work that needs to be done. Lasting, meaningful change does not come from the top down. It will never come from those that have ascended to power because you can only gain power by giving in to the system.
Change starts in the soil, in the roots, in the community. Never will change be tossed down from those in ivory towers, it will not rain down on us and provide salvation. Nor do we need it to, we create it for ourselves. The community informs the change that we demand. And that is exactly what is and has been happening daily in the streets of Seattle.