I went to a Seattle City Council meeting for the first time today. I watched as Seattle’s leaders made an historic decision. They voted on a resolution marking intent to pursue an income tax on our city’s wealthiest! That legislation and a vote could come this summer. This is big news in Seattle as we have one of the most regressive tax systems in the country with no income tax. We’re also growing rapidly and facing extreme growing pains. We need tax revenue that isn’t mostly sales tax because sales tax only increases the hardship on the poor.
There’s still a long way to fight, but I believe we will build to success as the Seattle Transit Riders Union and Neighborhood Action Coalition (NAC) are leading the way and have already gotten us to this point. Here’s a photo I snapped from Council Chambers today:
It’s been 100 days since Donald Trump moved into the White House. The shock I felt about his election has morphed into some other feeling now. I don’t know if numbness is exactly what it is, but I think that’s the closest I can get to naming it. I feel numb to Trump. It’s a strange thing to say because at the same time I feel more in-tune with, and alert to, what’s happening in our neighborhood, city, and country than ever before—much more so than even 100 days ago.
Trump has taught me an unexpected lesson: our capitalist government and its various leaders have always had a dark side. But, until now it’s mostly been masked in polite discourse that keeps the masses calm and in a of fog of ignorance. Trump has woken many of us privileged folks who were asleep.
Throughout our U.S. history, we’ve undermined foreign governments, we’ve killed masses of innocent people both abroad and in our own country. We’ve started wars under false pretenses. Some people are now gushing about George W. Bush even though he’s a war criminal who started a war under a false pretense and lied to us. But, because he’s polite, the neoliberal public seems to look at Bush more fondly now that Trump is here.
So, the lesson is that Trump is not an anomaly. He is the manifestation of who we, as a country, have always been beneath the surface. He is a product of our politics and systems, generations in the making. Our politics, our laser focus on consumerism and wealth—it’s always been based on inequality and bulldozing over others, sometimes even people in our own community. It’s been headed to this for a long time.
Frankly, I look at Hillary Clinton much differently than I did even 100 days ago. She was a candidate bought by big banks and corporations. She was not the answer to our problems. She was more of exactly the same as we’ve always had. I’m not saying I wanted Trump to win the election, but Clinton wasn’t anywhere close to a fix-all. We need a true shift, another way of thinking about things. And, I hope we’ll now—inspired by the nightmare of Trump—move faster in the direction of trying new ways to change our systems with the result of protecting, and bringing equity to, the most marginalized among us.
I feel scattered sometimes as I go to various meetings and learn about various groups and actions. Still, a common thread through everything these days is that I like spending time with the people who want a different system than the one we’ve always had that produces extreme inequalities and suffering. I like the people who are fired up to make deep change, who aren’t scared of thinking outside our capitalist norms.
Here is what I’m spending time on right now (outside of my job at TeamChild) as we pass the 100-day mark:
May Day 2017
The first time I experienced the May Day march was May 1, 2015. I happened to be moving into my apartment on Capitol Hill that day. That’s two years ago to the day. And, I didn’t understand the march at that time as protests surrounded the van I was driving to my new apartment.
Today, I understand May Day and I took part in it because it’s never been more important. It’s a march and rally to stand up for immigrant rights, to stop deportations, to end the prison state, to end the oil pipelines like Dakota Access and KeystoneXL. It’s to march in solidarity with the working class which struggles each and every day in our society.
I marched with thousands of folks through miles of Seattle today. Here are some pictures I snapped:
Direct Action Against Chase Bank
The largest-ever direct action against a bank in Seattle is happening on May 8, 2017. Activists will disrupt as many as 20 to 30 Chase Bank locations across the city to pressure the bank not to give loans to the KeystoneXL oil pipeline, or any other future oil pipeline.
I attended one of the planning meetings this week. We split into small groups which will focus on disrupting service at one branch per group. More than 70 folks showed up to the meeting I went to, and there were two other meetings with just as many people. So, there are many small groups going to many different branches across the city.
The small group I’m in includes City Council Candidate Jon Grant and his campaign manager and staff. Our group gets to decide how we’re going to do our action—if it will be a sit-in or blockade, etc. We took a pledge saying that it will be peaceful and not involve violence of any kind. Peaceful disruption is powerful, and so is the threat of it. That’s why organizers announced the action during a press conference in front of Chase Bank.
As one Native organizer said, this is about water, this is about Mother Earth, about life. Our actions will set an example for the country—fellow activists from coast to coast will see how this is done and copy it. And, other banks will see that funding oil pipelines is not in their best interest.
Here is a copy of the Action Agreements we have committed to:
Jon Grant for City Council Campaign
I continue to spend several hours a week working with the Jon Grant for City Council campaign. I’ve been mostly door-knocking. This past Saturday we were in the Roosevelt neighborhood. I also spent an evening this week calling voters from Jon’s office with a team of other phone bankers. Here are some pictures I took during my time with the campaign this week. As you can tell by the maps and lists on the walls of the office, they are super organized:
The campaign has been working non-stop, so much so that volunteers and staff have been going door-to-door, talking to voters, even at the same time as major marches. The past two weekends I’ve seen protesters from the Science March and the Climate March on my way to door-knocking for Grant. Each time there have been about 10,000 marching.
Neighborhood Action Coalition
Nick and I continue to stay connected with our Neighborhood Action Coalition. The group has hit some major milestones including having its first citywide newsletter go out and hosting town halls with city council members across the city. The town halls have been centered around talking about the idea of implementing an income tax in Seattle. Here’s a video from one of the first town halls.
Nick and I have also spent time going out this week. We went out for our friend Zach’s birthday and also went to the Betty Who concert at Neumo’s, which is in our neighborhood:
And, here are some of the headlines that have crossed my phone from The Washington Post: