Filed under: Action, Anarchist Movement, Housing, Northwest
Report on ongoing actions pushing back on attacks on the houseless in so-called Aberdeen, WA. Originally published on Sabot Media.
After delivering a 72-hour notice on Monday, the City moved in around 10am on Friday with bulldozers and dump trucks in order to commit an illegal sweep of the River St encampment of unhoused individuals.
Many people had no time to prepare as the week was filled with rain and wind. Despite being given a sheet of paper that described a process for the City to hold and store their property for 60 days, everything that wasn’t grabbed by the campers and set out on tarps across the train tracks was thrown in the back of the dump truck with all the other debris.
The City was using building code violations and health and safety as reasons to commit this illegal act. Although, now the campers have been further traumatized, stolen from, and will now be forced into tiny tents instead of the more spacious and easier to heat wooden structures that had been built up. There is no way this callous action was aimed at securing better living conditions for those affected.
The police were there to make sure that anyone who provided any resistance was threatened with arrest.
SOAP, or Save Our Aberdeen Please – our local fascist political organization – was present to video tape and laugh at peoples’ trauma. Their political base elected the very Mayor and City Council members who made today possible. They are well organized and motivated, and our counter operations should not underestimate them.
With smiles on their faces like this was just another day at work, the City workers used two large claw machines to smash and lift the debris into many dump trucks, the remainder was swept and shoveled up.
Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network was on site before the City. They set up a canopy with food and coffee, distributed literature on the laws and rights of people on the streets, and took some surveys responses from campers affected by the City’s actions. They also held signs in protest of the City’s actions.
Earlier the very same day some intrepid autonomous activists dropped two banners on the Chehalis River Bridge overpass above camp. The first banner read, “Being Homeless Isn’t A Crime, STOP THE SWEEPS” and the second read, “Stop The Sweeps, You Sweep We Strike”. Both read #StopCopCity in solidarity with the forest defenders in Atlanta.
This was all during the week of action against the City of Aberdeen announced by Sabot Media, The Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network, and Food Not Bombs. The call for action and the joint statement can be found here. A homeless rights conference was held on the 5th in order to get people up to speed on what rights they had in the face of targeted harassment by the City. After a week spent distributing know your rights materials and response surveys to the unhoused community in preparation for the sweep, we found ourselves facing the wrecking crew on Friday March 10th at 10 am. People were prepared, but still traumatized and upset.
We spent the day helping people carrying their stuff out of their structures and laying it out on tarps across the road. There was no where for people to place their things out of the rain while the process of destruction was going on.
This is why showing solidarity and support through actions taken like the homeless rights conference and the protest at the sweep, not to mention autonomous actions like the banner drops, is so important. When we take actions to inform people of their rights, they are more likely to want to organize to assert those rights. When signs of support show up our comrades know they are not alone. It is our duty as radical organizers to be in the streets, showing our solidarity at these times. We are grateful to all those who responded regionally to our calls for action and made their way to Aberdeen to show up for the unhoused having their lives disrupted.