From the Front Lines: Seattle Report

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Jaym Gates, who you may remember as a comunications director for SFWA, a publicist, author, editor, now freelancing and working at Green Ronin Publishing – has been reporting on the protests from Seattle on Facebook.  Her coverage has been quite personal, intimate and provocative.

Amazing Stories requested permission to reproduce her coverage here as a way to provide our readers a different point of view from the coverage offered by mainstream press outlets.  Jaym in turn requested that we make sure to note that she is just one of many supporters of these protests and that everyone’s focus should be on supporting Black Lives Matter and the various groups and organizations that are supporting the protestors.

She writes: “I would like to center this being led by Black community leaders and that this is a victory for Black Lives Matter. Links to [the following] would be appreciated.”:

https://www.nwcombailfund.org/ and https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/ 

which both support providing bail resources.  (Visit those sites to learn more)

Jaym has been covering the protest for a number of days now;  rather than start from the beginning, we’re going to provide some recent posts and will, over time, play catch up.

Photo Credit: David Ryder – June 7, 2020, Seattle Washington

Jaym Gates 13 hours ago:

Sharing from friends. We’re now in the part of protesting and making community change where it’s not as easy to stay in groups and the tactics get a lot dirtier.

IMPORTANT:There’s only three things to say to a cop if you’re at a protest and they stop you
1. Am I being detained
If they say no, you must ask the following:
2. Am I free to go
You must get a positive and clear answer. If you’re in any way unsure about their answer ask again, they must say you’re free to go otherwise they can hit you with resisting arrest
If you are being detained then
3. I won’t say anything without my lawyer present
Please note, if you’re out there protesting, the National Lawyers Guild has your back. If you get arrested for anything associated with with these protests, you can contact them. Yeah, you didn’t know it, but you do have a lawyer, the best lawyers.
Please understand that cops can legally lie to you. You can’t lie to them.
Please understand that anything you say WILL be used against you AND EVERYONE AROUND YOU. Don’t say shit. They will threaten you with everything from trumped up charges to “your buddy ratted you.”
Solidarity is important. Have each others back. Talk to each other and build that trust so that you know even when you’re isolated, you’ve got friends. We have to stick together.
The government has decades of skills in splitting groups and squashing movements (COINTELPRO anyone?). You’re gonna see rumors flying and it’s your duty to verify them. You’ll hear threats to your local movement, you’ll hear that protests are canceled, etc. They will do anything to disrupt the movement.
You. Must. Persist. Through. This.
Copy/Paste do not share.
In general, this is a great rule. Have you ever watched the first 48, lawyer the fuck up, and shut the fuck up

14 Hours

I will add that a few departments have gone beyond redemption in this mess. I do not believe it is possible to simply adjust SPD, PPD, NYPD, MPD, or LAPD. Austin and Columbus have also had extensive unprovoked violence, but I am not sure which way they will go.

There is a place for people handling actual criminals. But so much of police work is civil, not criminal, and arming civil servants has not worked very well.

Image may contain: text that says "#DefundThePolice DOES NOT mean eliminate all police funding. #DefundThePolice means Police Will Be Funded Will Not Overfunded Redistribute City Budget Everyone Gets A Fair Share #DefundThePolice because Should Focus On Crimes And Criminals Health Counselors Police Are Not Social Workers Police Medical Professionals Are Not Specialists Police Should Not Responsible For Everything #DefundThePolice emphasizes Reassessing Values Investing In Communities Investing In Our Funding Our Schools Funding Our Hospitals Funding Our Funding Our Infrastructure Understand that presenting "defunding the police" as as "eliminating all funding for police" is intentionally misleading and manipulative."

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“You are entering free Capitil Hill.”

I don’t know how long this will last, what the cops will do, what will happen at the city meetings tonight.

But I onow that, night before last, protesters stood their ground as the city police hit them with tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and smoke, and yesterday they took peaceful occupation of the city’s largest precinct…and promptly began building a community space with protection and aid for the houseless and at-risk of the community.

(with a link to The Dawn of “Free Capitol Hill” in The Stranger)

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There is now an official, community-held autonomous zone in Seattle, Washington. Aid stations, community resources, shelter for houseless individuals.

(with a link to Occupied Seattle on Twitter)

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17 Hours

“The largest police precinct of one of the most violent police forces in America has, after a week of police-instigated conflict, been turned into a memorial for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others. The block is barricaded off, guarded by people ready to handle any threat. The mood is jubilant. Some People are patrolling in armor, to the delight of the live streamers.

And most wonderfully, the rainbow crosswalks are now also emblazoned with “BLM,” after a week of being fouled with tear gas, smoke, munition debris, and hate.

The cops got really excited when the protesters pulled some dumpsters up, exclaiming they were probably going to set them on fire. There was palpable let-down when the dumpsters were used to build another barricade.

The fight is not over. The East Precinct was a low-level boss battle, and I’m pretty sure the cops expect it back. I don’t know what will happen over the next days or weeks, but we need to continue being out there, supporting the incredible work the Black community is doing to reclaim Capitol Hill and create a wedge of Seattle that is not ruled by fear and violence.

Something that I’ve been struggling to articulate today is that one of the biggest challenges we will face, going forward, is the gentrification of this movement. I’ve been guilty of this, too: last night was so amazingly queer, and I forgot to center the right voices for a while, there. I apologize for that. I know better.

White people have a tendency to insert ourselves into anything interesting, which can be very useful and helpful when we use our voices to bolster others, but we don’t know how not to also make it all about us. We’re already seeing that in the Seattle Protests.

The flipside of that is that, often, as soon as it stops being new and dramatic, white folks wander off. A lot of white people aren’t used to doing the hard, boring, delicate work, and there’s going to be a LOT of that if we’re going to make this more than a flash in the pan.

Defunding the police is only the start. We can defund the police everywhere, but if we don’t also address our own racism, our own prejudice and fear and privilege, it won’t matter. We have a weird thing where the US we idealize is not really the US at all, and the process to get there is often considered anti-American. COVID had already gotten the transformation discussions started, but now we need to expand those discussions.

Dismantling something from foundation to crown and rebuilding it right is not easy, it’s not fun, but it is long past time for it to happen.

I don’t know what’s going to happen when the cops wake up tomorrow and find an intact precinct well on the way to becoming a community center. I don’t know if they were planning on having it back, but, uh, that’s not going to happen, and it’s going to look really bad if they try to force it.

I do know that there are a lot of really smart, really thoughtful BIPOC working on legislation and community. I trust they have it handled. We just need to keep turning up with our bodies, our resources, our respect, and our humility.

Black Lives Matter.”

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