Filed under: Action, Development, Indigenous, Northwest, Solidarity
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A report on recent solidarity initiatives with the Wet’suwet’en struggle in Olympia, Washington. Originally posted to Puget Sound Anarchists.
On December 31st, 2019 colonial courts attempted to progress colonial processes, handing pipeline company Coastal GasLink (CGL) an injunction against the Wet’suwet’en people on their own land. Unfortunately for them, the Wet’suwet’en said no. Hereditary chiefs from all five clans Wet’suwet’en rejected the court’s jurisdiction on their unceded territory. With the world behind them and watching, the Wet’suwet’en remain steadfast that no pipeline will desecrate their lands and poison their waters. Exactly one year since RCMP invaded sovereign Gidimt’en Wet’suwet’en territory with snipers authorized to use lethal force, the Wet’suwet’en people prepare for another imminent raid. As anarchists and anti-capitalists, our hearts pound with the Wet’suwet’en as they struggle against the state for their autonomy, and for the earth. The time is now to light and act with that same fire.
“Our strength to act today comes from the knowledge that our allies across Canada and around the world will again rise up with us, as they did for Oka, Gustafsen Lake, and Elsipogtog, shutting down rail lines, ports, and industrial infrastructure and pressuring elected government officials to abide by UNDRIP [United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples].” – Call to Action, Unistoten.Camp
On January 9th, days after the Wet’suwet’en evicted every pipeline worker from their territory, and also shortly after settlers in Hamilton sabotaged multiple rail lines in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en, people of Olympia came together to express our solidarity. We gathered by the water and a main road, holding banners which read: “No Pipeline, No Invasion, Stop Colonization!,” “Against the Port and its World,” and “Blockade Infrastructure / Destroy Civilization / Solidarity (A),” and signs including “No RCMP on sovereign Wet’suwet’en land,” “Stop Colonizing,” “Force is not consent,” and more. Halfway through, our demonstration unexpectedly tripled in numbers as an anti-war rally scheduled for the same location hesitantly joined us. We exchanged our reasons for being there, information about the struggle, and shared an intergenerational and diverse sidewalk consisting of children, seniors, and bloc’ed up militant banner wielding anarchists. People intermingled, the anti-war crowd projected images and played instruments, and save for a few skirmishes with a liberal, it all felt very heartwarming and important to stand together and connect in these urgent times.
We know that images, demonstrations, and awareness can only do so much. We echo the call of our Wet’suwet’en comrades, and those in Hamilton and across the continent for direct action and tangible solidarity. We also know that when we expand and energize our capacity to act when we strengthen relationships, deepen our understanding these struggles, and build energy and momentum.
On January 14th, as RCMP reportedly stages their tactical teams in a nearby town, we planned a larger Eyes on Wet’suwet’en demonstration in Olympia. We were joined by friends from the Protectors of the Salish Sea, a local group which has been organizing around declaring a climate emergency which would cut off all developing fossil fuel projects in Washington State, as well as several other responses to colonization on this land. Paul Chey’okten Wagner opened the event, drawing connections with the LNG storage facility and pipelines currently under construction on the Puyallup estuary and all through this region (attention Puget Sound anarchists! Some segment of this pipeline is probably supposed to pass somewhere near you).
Our rally’s message to the world is this: NO MORE COLONIZATION. We are paying attention and ready to act. No more poisoning indigenous peoples and their waters (which we all drink). No more desecration of these lands and forests. No extractivist coal, oil, gas, and logging stealing from this earth and all of us who live on it in the name of profits. NO INVASION of sovereign Wet’suwet’en land. And if Canada goes through with the invasion, we will shut down everything, everywhere.
And maybe we’ll shut it down anyways.
The Port of Olympia (like any port) has only ever existed to serve colonial industries including war machinery (defeated by the port militarization resistance in 2007) and fracking (the storage and shipping of proppants, defeated by consecutive rain blockades in 2016 and 2017). We know that direct action works. Currently, the port is partnered with ACGI (Anglo-Canadian Greer Inc.), a Canadian company which specializes in moving coal, oil, gas, and logging. We decided that to draw connections with the devastation of these lands and forests, and also to choose a threat which may have economic impacts for the Canadian government, we target all ties between the Port of Olympia and ACGI. We demand that the port divest from all extractive industries (knowing full well that this is the first step in the port becoming a beach again).
From our original rally point on the 14th where we spoke, dropped banners, ate food from Olympia Food Not Bombs, and distributed information, flyers, and chant sheets, we took a walk over towards the port, stopping by their main office on the way there. The crowd amassed with signs and banners held high in front of the meet-the-port-commissioner meeting, chanting at them to break ties with ACGI. Commissioner Joe Downing sent out the executive director of the port, who claimed to not know of this company, and said if only we would be “reasonable” she would have a conversation and said she felt “threatened.” A diversity of tactics came through, as the local Youth Liberation Front taunted the director a bit and most of the crowd decided to move on towards the actual port entrance and away from the office.
A contingent of people, including members of Protectors of the Salish Sea, interested in pushing the willingness expressed by this director towards concession hung behind to presumably schedule the “reasonable conversation” she was asking for. The rest of us walked towards the port entrance and sang and chanted as we walked: “We have come too far, CGL must turn around! We’ll flood the streets with justice, shut this pipeline down,” “No Pipeline! No Invasion! Stop Colonization!,” “Coal, oil, gas! None shall pass!,” and “How do you spell racist? R-C-M-P!,” among others.
When we got to the port entrance, they had already shut themselves down for the day. As the most recent call from the Wet’suwet’en asked, we committed that in the event of a raid we would reunite at a location for immediate response. We also committed to continuing these struggles locally and from afar. With new energy, we took the streets and sang again all the way back to where Food Not Bombs waited with food that was still warm.
Solidarity! All eyes on Wet’suwet’en! All eyes on colonization everywhere, shut it all down! Thank you for calling us to act, we share the call! Infinite love to our comrades up north and everywhere. Your resilience emboldens us.