Snapshots from My Phone: Signs of Safety and Solidarity

When I first moved to the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle from the Montlake neighborhood nearly two years ago on May 1, 2015, this is what it looked like outside my apartment building. Police were arresting May Day protesters. This headline was from national TV network MSNBC that day.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 10.25.00 AM

Broken glass was scattered on my street. Police brandishing riot gear and protesters by the hundreds dressed in black flooded the streets around the block I was moving to. This was literally happening as I tried to drive a van with all my belongings through those crowds to my new apartment.

My friends, Brett and Kaelen, who were helping me move and following me in their SUV with my dresser, called me and said they were turning around to go home and that they’d deliver my dresser the next day. It was too chaotic. And, there was fear our cars might get caught in the middle of something violent. I was borrowing a minivan that belonged to my cousins who live in Seattle. So, I worried about the van’s windows.

Back then, almost two years ago, I did not fully appreciate the value of neighbors who are willing to get in the street and stand up for what they believe in. I didn’t fully appreciate how important it would become that my neighbors boldly declare who they support and who they fight for and against. Today, I understand it deeply.

Another of the most distinguishing features of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and others in Seattle, is that there are posters and signs stapled and plastered to buildings, electric poles, telephone poles and windows everywhere. A lot of times it’s to advertise a music show, there are many shows on any given night around our city.

poster pole

In our post-January 20 country, signs are popping up everywhere, and they seem to take on greater importance these days. Signs are no longer only focused on upcoming music shows, they’re focused on letting people know they are in a safe place with people who stand in solidarity with them against fascism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, islamaphobia, among other threats. The political climate we are living in does not guarantee that people can go out their door without experiencing some sort of hatred or hate crime, especially if they’re not white.

Over the past few weeks, here are some of the signs I’ve seen pop up around our neighborhood and others in Seattle, especially as anti-Muslim and anti-semitic graffiti and attacks take place. And, especially as this Republican administration bans people from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. (Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iran, and Sudan).

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And, here is a quick look at headlines I’ve seen on my phone from The Washington Post the past couple days. The news is not letting up, it seems to get darker by the day:

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