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who is america for?

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a cluster of large rocks create a seawall between the land and ocean
photo caption: large gray rocks form a seawall between the turbulent land and the relative calm of the ocean. when did it all go wrong? the people who would use the time machine to kill Hitler or Reagan are waaaaaay too optimistic. we need to go after that tetrapod!

There are no safe harbors. Week after week, day after day, we feel the erosion of our rights and liberties. The protections many of us have long enjoyed are going away. The people who lead our institutions chose to preserve them and themselves over us. We suffer, as so many have, and continue to have, in the land of the free. Nobody can say to the fascism that creeps up like muck, “it’ll never happen here.” Right now it feels like only a matter of time.

I encourage us all to acknowledge that erosion and prepare to push against it. We must not stall it, we must reverse it. We need to get down into the muck beneath our feet and see the people who have always been threatened by it. Even from where we are, many of us still have advantages that will get us out sooner. What we need right now is for more people to admit that the muck is unacceptable. Not just for themselves, but for anyone. We cannot stand to hear another time that the people who got out, got out on their own. I won’t accept anyone who says that if they did it, so can everyone else.

Who is america for? Who does it belong to? We should have a lengthy discussion about what it means to own the land under our feet. Property, the original NFT, may not belong in a land that once did not have owners. Right-wing media will claim that white men built america, and they built it for themselves. This tension exists throughout our history. We are living out the professed values and ideals of a white supremacist patriarchy. But it didn’t have to be this way. Throughout american history we see repeated moments, such as the failures of the first and second Reconstruction, when it almost stopped being this way. Each time, racists and moderates pushed back against the changes we truly needed. That’s in the past now. We still have time to fix it today. We can still take it back.

create our own ways

We are not the first people to imagine resistance. There are many approaches people have taken throughout history to resist oppression. Nonviolent protest figures into a lot of our traditions, but violent protest is often critical for enacting change. People practiced malicious compliance however they could to resist or destabilize the state. Indigenous people and others deploy generative refusal: rejecting the system and building a new one.

This approach is so important to me. I do not believe the systems and institutions around us can do this alone. They can’t reject structural racism while existing in it. We need to create new organizations and institutions. We need to help create even newer ones alongside the generations to come. Start a company or a coalition. Partner with existing ones to transfer wealth and power to the communities around us. And do it again. We have a lot to rebuild.

assess your values

Kelly Hayes and Tanuja Jagernauth discuss values in a recent Movement Memos podcast. Jagernauth describes conducting a values assessment for herself every now and then. It isn’t a complicated practice. She says to “check-in with yourself and lovingly ask, are my actions in alignment with my values right now? If so, how? If not, how?” Though she adapted this practice for herself, organizations could do this just as easily with staff across the hierarchy. How often do we live out our stated values? If we don’t, when do we not? Why? Why and when do we feel comfortable suspending or disregarding our values?

It isn’t enough to hold values, we have to live them out. Do we believe that Black lives matter in a society that has long discarded and devalued those lives? Then we must do something about it. Do we believe that people who are trans are the gender they say they are? Then we can’t accept anyone in power who dictates otherwise. I’m not writing about global issues right now. I’m referring to the people we interact with on a daily basis. I’m describing the people you may feel uncomfortable around when they express their opinions. Who do they have power over? Who is a subject in their small fiefdom? Change that dynamic. We can’t afford to hedge anymore.

hold onto hope

In the same podcast episode, Jagernauth quotes Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark. Solnit writes, “Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act and that you can’t win.” Solnit continues, “Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away. And though hope can be an act of defiance, defiance isn’t enough reason to hope. But there are good reasons.”

When it’s dark it’s so much easier to give up hope. It’s easy to fall into cynicism that things will never get better. I let cynicism define at least a decade of my life that I can’t get back. When that decade ended, I was still in the world that I had made. I was in a world that others made for me. But Solnit writes, “hope is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine. […] [It’s about] specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act.” We need hope, but we need action to make our hopes come true. One without the other is not enough.

decolonize it

More than anything, we need to honor our discomfort. We need to use it to reject all that’s wrong with the world around us. I’m still mulling over Poka Laenui’s words in Processes of Decolonization. Laenui writes about first recognizing colonization, then working to displace it. Laneui writes about his deepened understanding of u.s. colonialism in Hawaii. The process of violent colonization has happened elsewhere. It can decolonize in similar ways, too.

Laneui writes that decolonization is more than simply “diversifying” colonized power structures. Britain left power vacuums in many of its former colonies, including Sri Lanka. The people who replaced their leaders rarely destabilized the structures they left behind. In Sri Lanka, this created systems-level disparities between the Sinhalese and Tamil populations. These injustices led to a long and bloody civil war. Laneui writes that when we decolonize, we must reevaluate, “the political, social, economic and judicial structures themselves.”

resist, resist, resist

We live in a world where everything feels polarized, everything feels fractures. We don’t have to feel that way. We can invest ourselves into the communities around us. We can bridge with others who are not like us. We can give no quarter or platform to fascists and their attempted genocide. We can ask ourselves, “who is america for?” Who do we want it to be for? When and how will we fight harder for that?

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jarmartinezs
147 days ago
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Seattle, WA
rocketo
150 days ago
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seattle, wa
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Laurie Anderson Interviewed By '60 Minutes': Watch

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Right before last night’s unendurable Grammys, the enduring CBS news program 60 Minutes aired a lengthy interview with Laurie Anderson that was conducted by Anderson Cooper. The avant-garde artist talked about her creative process and how it’s evolved over the past five decades, from her breakout 1981 track “O Superman,” her relationship with Lou Reed, and her fascination with technology and artificial intelligence. She currently has a large exhibition on display at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.

“With a gun to my head, I say I tell stories,” Anderson said during the interview. “And those look like paintings sometimes. They look like, you know, songs. They look like films. They’re just stories. What is a story? What is its function? How does it work? Who’s telling it? To who?”

Watch the full segment below.

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jarmartinezs
245 days ago
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Seattle, WA
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CID Community Watch Not Impressed by Mayor Harrell’s Hot-Spot Policing Strategy in Little Saigon

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And public defenders say Harrell's approach is old, expensive, and ineffective. by Hannah Krieg
Full of fresh ideas, Harrell says SPD is going to target high crime areas
Full of fresh ideas, Harrell says SPD is going to target high-crime areas screenshot from Seattle Channel

In a press conference on Friday, Mayor Bruce Harrell directed the Seattle Police Department to embrace the strategy of hot-spot policing to rid the city of disruptive and criminal actors who are, in his words, “destroying the fabric of our neighborhood."

Though Harrell reeled off a list of recent arrests near 12th and Jackson, an intersection in Little Saigon that has drawn lots of news coverage lately, the groups most attuned to the area's public safety have yet to see a change in the neighborhood.

“I don't see a change from last month [in Little Saigon]. Not yet," said Tanya Woo, a leader of the CID Community Watch, which has patrolled the neighborhood as an unarmed alternative to police since the summer of 2020. "But I also don't believe the SPD is the answer,” she added.

Friends of Little Saigon executive director Quynh Pham was not impressed, either. "We have definitely noticed a little bit more police presence. But I think the question is, is their current strategy effective? We haven't really seen results. The same crowds and types of crimes continue to happen," she said.

King County Public Defense Director Anita Khandelwal affirmed the concerns of the neighborhood groups, saying, "The amount of money we will spend on hiring more officers to patrol 'hot spots,' on prosecutors to file those cases, on public defenders to defend them, on judges to hear them would be so much better spent on housing people and meeting their needs."

Hot-spot policing is an approach to crime that focuses police personnel and resources in specific high-crime areas. Seattle has seen several iterations of this tactic, including from former Mayor Ed Murray, who launched the 9 ½ Block strategy in 2015 to crack down on petty crime and drug deals downtown. Khandelwal said that most of the people arrested during that time were released after being jailed for several months.

"The lawyers in my office have represented countless individuals who have been prosecuted as part of this and other failed strategies. We see that jail does nothing to address our clients’ unmet needs. We know that it destabilizes our clients’ lives," she said.

Some of the major proponents of that strategy back then now hold high offices in city government again. Scott Lindsay, who worked as Murray's public safety advisor, now works as the Senior Assistant City Attorney; former City Councilmember Tim Burgess works as Harrell’s director of strategic initiatives. Both propagated the “Seattle is dying” narrative, a worldview created by the local Sinclair station.

This time around, the cops said they're focusing their energy on Little Saigon and other areas. Harrell didn’t go into great detail about the conditions on 12th and Jackson, but he said, “For those that work or live around here, you know exactly what I'm talking about.”

Vandalism, theft, and drug trade in the neighborhood made headlines last year. The Seattle Times Editorial Board said "to walk [Little Saigon's] streets is to viscerally experience neglect." The board pointed fingers at the electeds who represent this area, with former Mayor Jenny Durkan topping the list.

When tough-on-crime Harrell took the driver’s seat, he wouldn’t let the government neglect Little Saigon – at least not when it came to policing. During the press conference, Harrell said that in the first 21 days of January, SPD made 23 felony arrests and 14 misdemeanor arrests in the area. The program will continue beyond these 21 days, according to the Mayor’s office.

A spokesperson from SPD, Sgt. Randy Huserik, said he was not able to give specific numbers of officers working in the area compared to past, non-emphasis patrols.

The strategy has its share of critics, including former Washington, D.C. police chief Cathy L. Lanier, who in 2015 argued that her department's first iteration of hot-spot policing hurt community trust and tied up cops in court testifying on a bunch of low-level offenses, which left neighborhoods “in the hands of the more violent predators.” Harrell’s decision to ramp up hot-spot policing could lead to similar issues as the City Attorney's Office tightens up filing deadlines for incoming cases to just five business days while the mayor and the SPD deploy officers from what they claim is a “depleted” police force.

The strategy is also expensive, Khandelwal warned. She said that putting someone in jail for just 20 days costs $3,100, not including the court and policing costs that precede the jail sentence. What's more, she said, is these arrests "do not address any root causes, and often only leave people saddled with the stigma of the criminal legal system involvement, leaving them with no way to meet their basic needs."

Woo said during the month of January she noticed police cars parked near 12th and Jackson. The presence seemed to deter some – Woo noted there were fewer people in the area than usual – but she said the usual crowd “walked around the block and just continued on with their transactions around the corner.” The hot-spot approach in this instance appeared to push the activity elsewhere, which critics of the policing strategy argue is the inevitable consequence of the method.

Pham, who also co-chairs the CID Public Safety Council said the community member from the west side of the freeway have voiced concern that criminal activity is starting to move in from 12th and Jackson.

Huserik did not say what the department was doing to avoid potentially sweeping crime elsewhere, but he said “the intent isn't to move the criminal activity from one area to another, but to bring an end to it, either through arrests and prosecutions, or through coordinating with other city agencies in getting into the area and contacting people to get them the services from the city that they need.”

As of this weekend, Woo said activity on 12th and Jackson was about the same. On Saturday night she saw about 100 people in the area, many dealing drugs. That same night, the watch group performed CPR on two men they found face down and unconscious on the pavement in the CID.

The watch group brainstormed ways to combat the growing drug problem, and concluded that a handful of well-meaning volunteers armed with sandwiches and water bottles would not be enough. The group already has Narcan, and they plan to get testing strips to allow people to test drugs before they consume. Still, Woo said the area would be better served by trained social workers.

During the press conference, Harrell said the city government will continue to spend “tens of millions of dollars” to provide shelter and social services to those in need in Seattle. According to the Mayor’s Office, in the first 21 days of January the police engaged in 100 interactions at 12th and Jackson beyond arrests, including providing medical assistance, referring people to social services, and recommending others for diversion programs.

Police will continue efforts to be highly visible in Little Saigon, but hot-spot policing won’t stop there. Harrell declined to name the intersections and areas that can expect this treatment in the press conference, but he told reporters, “If you want to know where, just read the blogs. The public knows where they are.”

According to SPD’s latest annual crime report, last year officers were most often dispatched to Rainier Valley Square in South Seattle, the Target downtown, Harborview Medical Center, Westwood Village in West Seattle, DESC Hobson Place, supportive housing in the Judkins Park neighborhood, and Addison Apartments in Pioneer Square.

While these locations and others may see similar treatment, so far, Woo cannot say if the model will work for Little Saigon.

“We’re not really seeing much change, but it’s only been a month, so hopefully we will,” Woo said.

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rocketo
298 days ago
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👏🏾more👏🏾police👏🏾doesn’t👏🏾help👏🏾
seattle, wa
jarmartinezs
296 days ago
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Seattle, WA
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Dollywood Will Pay 100% Of Employees’ Tuition

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Dollywood, the Tennessee theme park and resort co-owned by Dolly Parton, has announced that it will cover 100% of the tuition costs, fees, and books for any employee pursuing higher education. That offer extends to all part-time, full-time, and seasonal employees, starting from their first day on the job. Vaccine funder, child saver, statue refuser, mystery writer, and all around good person Dolly Parton strikes again!

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jarmartinezs
299 days ago
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The ONLY good rich person
Seattle, WA
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Asteroid Named After SOPHIE

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

A little over a year ago, pioneering art-pop performer and electronic producer SOPHIE died suddenly when she accidentally fell from a rooftop at in Athens, Greece. Now, Nylon reports that an asteroid has been named after her. The process reportedly began in February of last year when SOPHIE fan Christian Arroyo started a petition to dedicate the planet TOI-1338 b to the late pop star because it resembled the album art to SOPHIE’s studio debut, Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides. “I am requesting that TOI-1338 b be named in honor of SOPHIE, in honor of a great LGBT+ influence,” wrote Arroyo. “I want her name to be remembered and her influence to continue to flourish for many years to come.”

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jarmartinezs
301 days ago
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fuck yeah, RIP legend
Seattle, WA
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The Number Ones: Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”

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In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.

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jarmartinezs
311 days ago
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Seattle, WA
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