December 2nd, 2012. Local activists and organizers are dismayed to learn that Seattle Police Department, seven months after the events of May 1st, have chosen to file charges against five individuals in the Seattle area in connection with the protests and festival that took place celebrating International Worker’s Day.
The latest wave of indictments must be understood as the latest in an ongoing series of legal harassment of Occupy Seattle participants and organizers, whose lives have been disastrously affected by legal battles even as the courts have dismissed the SPD’s charges: the Union Cultural Center occupation (all 16 acquitted), the “Chase 5” (acquitted), the June 29/QFQ 3 (charges dropped), the arrestees of October 5th (6 of 8 acquitted, 2 in process), the three previous arrests for May Day (charges dropped), among many others. Whatever the outcome of these indictments, the intent is clear – harassment and exhaustion of a social movement which, at last count, still polled more popular than congress
Concerned residents of Seattle are dedicated to keeping our comrades out of the hands of the state. These charges are the latest in a series of actions undertaken by law enforcement in order to intimidate and suppress radical political activities in Seattle. In response, we have come together to form the Seattle Anti-Repression Committee, which will be engaging in direct support for the defendants as their court cases progress.
The May Day Five have their first court date on Monday, December 3rd, 2012. SARC and other supporters will be there, and we encourage all to support these individuals in their resistance against political repression. Stand with us in condemnation of a culture of harassment and intimidation.
For further background information, please see the expanded solidarity statement below.
On May 1st, 2012, Decolonize/Occupy Seattle and numerous groups organized a day-long festival in Westlake park to celebrate International Worker’s Day. Demonstrations that took place that day included an anti capitalist march around downtown, and an “Honor the Dead, Fight for the living” march to the John T Williams totem pole in Seattle Center. Now, five people are being charged with actions that took place on May Day. With charges ranging from “Riot” to “Malicious Mischief,” the persons accused face the possibility of many months in prison.
Nearly seven months after May 1st, the task force investigation around May Day has absorbed public resources and attention far beyond the cost and impact of any property destruction that occurred during events on that day. The SPD has spent countless resources, including a seven-month long task force, many paid officer hours, detailed surveillance and two house raids to gather evidence of “anarchist activities.” The evidence they procured consists of T-shirts, bandanas and “anarchist” reading materials.
The political nature of these recent charges cannot be separated from the perceived goals of the Federal Grand Jury investigations taking place in the Northwest. These charges are part of a larger trend attempting to stifle a large and vital movement that has erupted over the past year in response to the economic crises leading to lowered income, overworked hours and rising costs, as well as the increased deportations and incarcerations of people of color.
Additionally, it is important to remember the history of May Day as a day to commemorate workers martyred in their struggle to establish the eight hour work day and other key labor goals. In 1886, in response to cross-sector union strikes and demands for a five-day work week, the police massacred workers while the state executed anarchists who were deemed organizers. Resistance to unjust working conditions and the poverty of life is an important legacy of May Day. Yet, as the Seattle Police Department has demonstrated, so is police brutality and scapegoating of anarchists.
Within this historical and present context, it is quite clear to SARC and other concerned people across the country that SPD, other law enforcement, and the government in general are engaging in broad and brutal tactics in order to repress ideologies that threaten their power. These agencies prefer to imprison people on nebulous charges in a frantic effort to defend the rights of windows. SARC places people over property and rejects the legitimacy of these charges, We take a stand against the repression of political speech which we see as an effort to silence those angered by experiences of oppression. We say NO to state repression and we stand with those charged in resisting the state’s attempts at intimidation and imprisonment.
True freedom and actual liberation means the freedom to express one’s political beliefs without fear of harassment and incarceration. We will be engaging in support for those charged, and we encourage the people of Seattle and around the globe in rejecting the violence and oppression of the state.
In solidarity with those targeted by Seattle Police Department and other law enforcement,
Seattle Anti-Repression Committee