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Jul 9, 16

Olympia Demo In Response to Police Executions

Submitted to It’s Going Down 

On July 7th, an emergency demo was called in response to the police executions of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Around 40 comrades attended the demo at the start and stood outside the Olympia Police Department/City Hall chanting and holding signs and banners saying “Black Lives Matter,” and “Fuck The Police.” Eventually, we moved from the sidewalk to block the intersection, where we stood for a bit before someone gave the idea to block the interstate.

The crowd was excited at this, so we began to move towards the interstate ramp on Plum St. A comrade took out a portable speaker and began blasting anti-police music, which seemed to energize the crowd. As we turned onto Plum St, two cars tried to plow through the crowd. Comrades rushed to get in front of the cars and surround them, they were banged on and kicked, and the back window of one was broken. The march continued on, blocking all four lanes of Plum as we marched towards the intersection of Plum and Union. As we passed the intersection, a car tried to speed through the crowd and hit a comrade of color (who thankfully was all right); its antenna was ripped off.

Then, another car succeeded in hitting another comrade of color; the car stopped and an old white man got out and started yelling at people and coming at them aggressively. A comrade got up in his face and the man pushed them. Someone pepper-sprayed the man; he charged at us, got into a brawl and was taken to the ground. The fight was broken up and the man’s passengers helped him to his car as the crowd shouted “Black Lives Matter!” and continued onward.

We got to one of the ramps, a bridge going over the interstate before it merged into it, and Washington State Patrol and sheriffs began to come up behind us. We moved onto the ramp and blocked it so the pigs couldn’t get past us. Someone tried to talk to the police, who said that there was an emergency they needed to get through for, so we let them through – only to get blocked off by them. Let that be a lesson for us, the police cannot be trusted, and we should never, ever talk to them.

We still managed to just walk through their cars and got onto the bridge portion of the on-ramp, where we hung our “Black Lives Matter” banner off one side and displayed our signs for all the passing cars to see. Many of the cars that drove by honked in support or shouted messages of support at us.

The police told us that if we stayed up there we were going to be arrested and most of us seemed not willing to risk that, so we all began to move back towards Olympia.

As we approached the intersection of Plum and Union again, we could see police in riot gear ahead. There were less of them than there were of us; they told us to disperse, and we refused. They tried to stop us from going back downtown, and kept ordering us to disperse. We got in a shouting match with them, a comrade grabbed a baton out of the hands of one of them, and a scuffle ensued in which an officer grabbed someone by the head, threw them to the ground and got on top of them, presumably to begin arresting them. At that point the crowd became more angry, and the officer got distracted and stood up to fire his pepperball gun.

The comrade on the ground stood up, police tried to grab them, but others in the crowd held on tight and succeeded in de-arresting them. The police shot more pepper balls but we continued to stand our ground and shouted “Fuck the police.” Eventually they let us through the intersection and told us to stay on the sidewalk, but we refused and got back into the streets less than a block away without hesitation.

A truck then came and tried to run through the crowd of comrades. Someone jumped in front of it and stopped it; two white men on bikes came up and told the driver to “run that nigger down.” A shouting match ensued that almost turned into a fight, but people from the crowd intervened because we were surrounded by the police who were looking for reasons to arrest us. The two men yelled more racial slurs at the comrade before being pushed to the back of the crowd, where they continued to follow the march. The march made it back to the police station/City Hall and we held the intersection in front of it. A couch was moved into the intersection and adorned with Black Lives Matter signs and food.

After an hour or so two neo-Nazis showed up, identified later as Cassie Hickam (Olympia) and Robert Fechtner (Vancouver, WA). Fechtner took off his shirt to reveal a ’14/88′ tattoo and a portrait of Hitler on his chest and screamed “White Power!”, while Hickam punched a comrade of color in the face. Comrades screamed at them both, got in their faces and spat on them while the two continued to scream racist tirades about the purity of the white race. At that point a few members of the protest, dogmatic pacifists, placed themselves in between the Nazis and the crowd, pleading to their fellow protesters to ignore the Nazis because “the more we pay attention to them the more power they have.” Not surprisingly, no one listened to these fools and comrades continued to confront the Fascists. Eventually the two were chased off, and the man’s shirt was taken and burned.

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A small group of drunk white people gathered, chanting “All Lives Matter” and heckling the protest. The crowd of hecklers grew; some people were spotted who may be part of some local militia groups but they kept their distance. Some man brought a drum kit and saxophone out into the middle of the street and began playing while saying “All Lives Matter”. Someone ran up and grabbed part of the drum set, and the drummer ran after them, trying to get them, but someone else got up to him, put him in a choke hold and took him down to the ground for a minute before releasing him, giving him a chance to leave the area. The All Lives Matter group started getting more aggressive and got up in peoples’ faces. After one of them got punched, they brandished a tazer at us, but did not use it. [Editor’s note, some disputes have been raised about this interaction. Read here.]

There was some more arguing between the groups for a bit before people started deciding to leave; everyone dispersed at once. Before we left, the couch was placed in front of the doors of City Hall. There were no arrests, and no one was seriously hurt.

This was a powerful action that escalated quickly and it sent a big message: every time your guns go off, fucking expect us. This is going to open up fault-lines in Olympia, and we think that is good. There is no time to wait, there is no time to be peaceful, and there is no possibility of engaging in dialogue with police. We know the police to be an occupying military force: why do you think they roll through our hoods, armed to the teeth with military equipment? We know that every gun they fire, every person they execute, is not a mistake or a case of  ‘bad apples’, but a continuation of 500 years of genocide and occupation.

We also want to make clear that, during this protest, all of the violence was targeted specifically towards people of color. We have to remember that any time a confrontation ensues, white people, whether they are the police, fascists, or just random angry people, will always direct their violence first and foremost towards marginalized people. Now, more than ever, we have to watch out for each other, to protect and take care of ourselves and each other.

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