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Sep 16, 20

Climate Change, Mutual Aid, and State Failure in the Pacific Northwest

A look at the growth of mutual aid initiatives in the Portland area in the face of massive wildfires which have raged across the Pacific Northwest.

For three months following the death of George Floyd, the people of Portland have stood in solidarity with Black lives and police brutality victims around the world. Their demands for change and a defunding of the police have been met with state repression in the form of abductions by secret police, impact munitions, chemical agents, and mass arrests. They have endured violent assaults and occupation by federal forces and an increased level of State violence as their unquenchable resistance has continued month after month. But now, the State’s endless clouds of tear gas has turned to a cloud of smoke which now blankets the region in an apocalyptic haze as wildfires engulf the Cascades. The gas masks so common in the region now have another use other than filtering out the war crimes in the air: protection from the enveloping smoke; though both hazards find their source in the same font of malfeasance and oppression.

Rapidly increasing ecological collapse and climate change brought on by the State’s mismanagement of ‘its’ resources and in cooperation with industrial capitalism’s overzealous exploitation of the land and sea have destabilized regions the world over and created climate refugees and destroyed communities. The unprecedented wildfires in the Pacific Northwest is only the latest thing on a very long list. The result has been entire towns such as Detroit and Blue River incinerated, dozens dead and missing, millions of acres scorched, tens of thousands of clumsily evacuated ecological refugees and now, in the midst of a global pandemic and locked in conflict with the forces of authority, the fires burn at the cities edges. The State has failed to serve the people and now the people must serve themselves.

For the past few days, the focus has shifted away from the nightly demonstrations and clashes with the police to grassroots humanitarian efforts led by the dozens of collectives and community organizations that have been on the frontlines these many months. At drop-off and collection points, dozens of community volunteers work tirelessly day and night to accept, organize, and distribute much needed relief to those clumsily evacuated by the State. Medical supplies, food, clothing and many everyday items needed to sustain a basic quality of life are being provided entirely by donation and the goodwill and kindness of those who simply want to see their communities safe.

The example set is one of community self-sufficiency in the wake of governmental failure and capitalist exploitation. It shows we can protect and provide for ourselves and our neighbors and those we can self-organize horizontally to overcome the challenges we face as a society. We are an image of the future and long after the trees have turned to ash our solidarity will continue to burn as an inextinguishable flame.

-Rose City Ninjas

Help Out

Donate food, clothing, medical and everyday supplies. Donations can be dropped off at various locations around Portland.

CashApp: $TGCMutualAid
MutualAi[email protected]

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