On August 19th, a group of people marched from the northern end of the Central District down 23rd Avenue to the old Autonomia social center. The bottom floor of the building has remained unused since the social center was forced to close in the fall of 2011 due to harassment and repression from the gentrifiers, the police, and the city of Seattle.
When the group arrived at the building they found food waiting and the door open. After listening to a short speech people entered the space, ate food, listened to music, and hung out on the street corner. The police remained nearby but did not interfere with the festivities. About two hours later, the occupiers of the building chose to leave rather than inevitably get arrested in the days or hours to come (although it is unclear if people did in fact choose to stay the night).
The event contributed to the increasing polarization between virulent yuppie-gentrifiers and the rest of the population. For example, a posh bo-bo couple flipped off the occupiers and were met with insults in return, while a man who used to come to Autonomia welcomed everyone back to the neighborhood and was met with thanks.
The atmosphere of the event was generally positive and there was no repression to dampen people’s spirits. It is hoped that people will continue occupying buildings, ideally with the intention of holding them.
-A cell of the Invisible Army
Below is the speech that was given in front of the old Autonomia:
This building here once housed the Autonomia social center, but it was destroyed by the city of Seattle and the gentrifying neighbors who wanted it gone. While it existed, the social center provided free clothes, food, and social events to the neighborhood and the wider area. Now this space is empty and unutilized.
People often asked what we would do without police, laws, or capitalism. Our answer, very simply, is this. We will take back our lives from those who would take them from us. This is the alternative. What we are doing now is but the smallest glimpse of the world as should exist, a free world without money, without an economy, without capitalism. We do not need the market, the government, the police, or their laws. We are free people, and we will remain so.
We wish to express solidarity with our comrades in Oakland, Parnell’s Market, the EZLN in Chiapas, Pussy Riot in Russia, and every rebel who fights in the international struggle against the capitalist world system.
Our bodies are our best weapons, our true weapons. Remember how to use them. Stay, eat, dance, hold the space, call your friends, and remember that we all possess the power to alter the world around us. Never forget that power and hold onto it as long as you can.