Tides of Flame #2: SPD Spin; Inte-gentrification; Transit Crisis SEATTLE-U.S.A

Posted on July 20, 2011



From Tides of Flame #2:

Racist Cops ‘Victims of Racist Attack’

SEATTLE – Last winter an off-duty cop went into a bar in Ballard and proceeded to become intoxicated. In his drunkenness, he fixated on a few women and tried to flirt with them. The women snubbed his aggressive and arrogant advances. When he saw them accidentally take his jacket from the bar, the cop used this as a reason to take revenge the women for blowing him off. He showed them his gun and started to yank on the jacket.

Three young men saw the incident and began to attack the cop, seeing him as just another drunken scumbag. However, the night ended with the three young men on the ground and the cop kicking one of their heads into the cement. This event was captured on video and became a media scandal, revealing everyday police behavior to the public and leading to assault charges being brought against the off-duty cop.

In an attempt to counter and quell mass anger at the police, the Seattle Police Officers Guild spokesperson Rich O’Neill claimed that the three young men had committed a hate crime by stopping the off-duty cop’s assault on the women. Rich O’Neill is the man who publicly justified the death of John T. Williams and works to always portray the police as beyond suspicion. Rather than being presented as the lonely, drunken attacker that he was, the off-duty cop is being touted by O’Neill as a simple man who wanted to stop a simple crime before being attacked by racists. In the eyes of the Guild, it is never fair to call the police racists for their murders and beatings, but when people without badges keep the streets safe from cops, it is perfectly fine to call them racist.

Gentrification: Art, Housing, Police

SEATTLE – On June 1st, the city announced plans for a new structure to be erected at 12th and Pine in Capitol Hill. The basement level will be a police parking garage for cruisers, mobile command centers, and personnel vehicles. The ground floor of the structure will be devoted to art, housing two theaters for artists to perform and rehearse in. There will also be a cafe and art gallery. The upper floors of the four story structure will be devoted to housing. It is unclear how much the apartments will cost, but they will most likely be pricey.

The plans for this structure reveal the perfect fusion of police, art, and capitalism. These three forces are the main driving forces of gentrification. The police keep the neighborhood pacified, the art keeps everyone entertained, and the sterile architecture houses all of the atomized citizens. A new form of social control and totalitarian integration is about to appear in Capitol Hill.

Scrambling for a Solution to the Transit Crisis

SEATTLE – On Tuesday, July 12, hundreds of citizens attended a meeting where they begged six people to not cut bus lines.

The six people were the King County Council, supposedly elected to represent the citizens’ best interests. But their interests came into conflict Tuesday, as the citizens want the county to provide cheap public transportation, but the budget crisis means the state has to cut bus routes in order to save itself. Convinced that they cannot solve the problem themselves, the citizens are begging the county to do something impossible.

The mass transit system in Seattle, as everywhere, is primarily designed to move people from their homes to their workplaces and back again. The lines also deliberately run through shopping and entertainment districts. At certain points, they wind their way out of the city to link up with other transit systems. The bus lines, like the interstates, the port, the rail lines, exist to facilitate flows of capital. The fact that we can use Metro buses to visit friends and family is simply a side-effect of a system designed primarily to ensure that we clock in on time.

Needless to say, a 17% cut to bus routes by 2013 wasn’t exactly the type of change these voters were hoping for. At the July 12th meeting, many citizens encouraged County Council to pass a proposed $20 car tab fee that would help offset the lack of funds and “Save the Buses.” They considered this a necessary sacrifice, and they were willing to make it.

The more radical, socialist reformers and activists continue to demand that the government “Tax the Rich.” This strategy relies on a continuing system of wealth inequality—namely, capitalism—and asks the state to do something we can very well do ourselves, Robin-Hood-style. The state, as a system of power, can only ever serve the interests of the powerful and wealthy, never of those they exploit. The federal government gives trillion-dollar handouts to banks, and some of the most profitable corporations in the US actually pay negative taxes.

Meanwhile, in many cities, transit riders have self-organized fare strikes with the complicity and support of transit workers. Fare-dodging unions have sprung up all over the world as a form of organization to combat fare hikes and service cuts. Every month, participants pay into a common fund (always much less than any regular transit rider would pay each month) which is used to pay tickets given to those who get caught riding for free.

The idea behind this activity is simple: workers shouldn’t have pay for the economic disaster caused by corporations, banks, and politicians. The fight against the wealthy can be self-organized rather than a plea made to their loyal politicians.

Certainly we want to go much further than simple fare-dodging. But by self-organizing to defend each other while refusing to pay for their crisis, we begin to directly take back our lives and activity from the demands of capital.

Posted in: Uncategorized