Filed under: Action, Featured, Housing, Northwest, Police
Report from Eugene, Oregon on first week of active eviction resistance campaign and police blockade.
In the last scene of Salt of the Earth, striking Mexican mine workers hear the call resounding through the hills: “Eviction! Eviction!” Piling into truck-beds, rambling through the hills, they arrive to watch their comrade’s worldly belongings carried piece by scrap into Pinkerton’s arms until they notice their strength, together, as workers, as the dispossessed, as the salt of the earth, and together they force the pigs, gun thugs, and landlords out.
In Eugene, Oregon today, the pigs were pushed out to cries of “One Solution, Revolution,” and the eviction two or three dozen riot police could not serve was void in the face of community defense. As we settle back into the space that we liberated together, as workers, as the salt of the earth, following the Eugene Police Department’s and Lane County Sheriff’s failed attempt at an eviction, big tents come streaming in, followed by food, coolers, ice, couches, chairs, and tables. The radical library is still here, and what was last week a stoop watch slash cop watch is now becoming a full-blown eviction defense occupation.
Against the strength of renter capital, extractivist landlords, and all the pigs and all their guns that enforce the pig rule of private property the world over, a working-class Black family has demanded housing, safety, and dignity – and a community has begun to form in the struggle.
After the first day’s jubilation of turning back the landlord’s ordered storage unit and the relief that the pigs didn’t come, potentially expecting less resistance, organization began to blossom – food, electricity, wi-fi, a welcome table, the aforementioned library (zines are teeming and there are some sick editions from cooltexts.github.io), robust scheduling, media, design, legal assistance, et cetera et cetera et cetera.
Eugene Jail Support facilitated know your rights workshops about the potential risks involved in trespassing, and the local prison abolition project hosted a political prisoner letter writing to comrades locked up in Atlanta, (it goes without saying that Cop City will never be built), prisoners from the George Floyd uprisings, and long-term political prisoners keeping Marius Mason’s June 11th call in mind. Little zine discussions popped up, and building projects for a kitchen, pantry, a playhouse for the kids and shelters for the shelterless began.
Rattling spray-paint cans covered old particle board with circle A’s, 1312’s, and “Don’t Evict,” “Evict the Rich,” “Abolish Rent,” “No More Evictions,” bolstering the beautiful Assata mural into a sturdy barricade in front of the driveway. Neighbors from surrounding blocks showed their support and echoed the words, “We Must Love and Support Each Other,” bringing supplies, engaging in discussion, and (allegedly / potentially) joining the rent strike.
Comrades from Tenants and Neighborhood Defense (TANC) in the Bay showed their solidarity by taking the struggle directly to house-hoarding absentee landlord Sharon Prayer’s home in San Mateo, staging a noise demo, and bringing the family’s demands straight to her doorstep.
The morning of the 5th, around 9AM, around 10 cop cars staged a block over, and the family was alerted to lock the doors and close the windows. Calls went out to comrades all across the city: “Eviction! Eviction!” After the pigs broke through the windows, tearing air condition units out, they stomped through the house, and tore the family out, children included, and comrades began to arrive from all directions. The comrade who was on cop watch at the time was detained, thrown into a police car, and finally released. But comrades continued to arrive, donning black and red bandannas and physically barricading the driveway, to loud chants of “Go Home!,” “A-C-A-B,” and mostly melodious refrains of “Which Side Are You On” and “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
A tense stand-off began between upwards of 50 eviction defenders and two dozen riot pigs with minor scuffles. Sneering scab ass fence workers, locksmiths, and other “workers” were escorted by the militarized police through the crowd of supporters to jeers of “Scab” and “Quit your job!” (One employee of Island Fencing Inc. recognized that they were being forced to be a class traitor and walked off the job, quitting then and there – solidarity forever, kid, against the bosses and the landlords!) In 100 degree heat, eviction defenders stood down the pigs, chanted over the dispersal orders given over the LRAD, and in front of neighbors and media pushed them the fuck out.
Immediately after they left, the fences were taken down, and the property re-inhabited. What did the pigs even accomplish? One adrenaline-depleted analysis of EPD and LCS’s confusing tactics is simply their avoidance of embarrassment – throwing a working class, single Black mother out on the streets and mass-arresting 30-40 committed eviction defenders, quite the look. (N.B. Candice wants nothing to do with this poverty-porn: the family is a working-class family committed to struggle for housing and dignity for everyone, they’re not agent-less.) Another interpretation is escalating the legal risk for defenders with potentially higher charges for those supporting, but also inviting more militant tactics from those wanting to throw down.
One thing they should know: no one is being evicted, no one is being forcibly removed, no more evictions, no pasaran!
End Evictions is Abolish Rent is Stop the Sweeps is Defend the Forest is Fire to the Prisons is Tout le Monde Deteste la Police
Love and Rage!