Last night, June 21st, I joined the nightly protest that walks from CHOP to SPD’s West Precinct in downtown Seattle and back. We stopped on I-5 for something like an hour as we made our return. Washington State Patrol, I assume, because I’d seen them staged on the freeway in days prior, blocked traffic so the freeway was clear. The crowd was smaller than any other I’d seen since the protests started but it was Father’s Day, after all. Given the holiday turn out, I’d judge that the protests are still going strong.
As we made our way from I-5 back up the hill we received word that a shooting occurred somewhere near the CHOP. Details were scarce so I took my bike to make recon. I approached Cal Anderson from the north and found people congregated as per usual without any obvious indication that a shooting had occurred. I asked one person for information and they said they had no knowledge of a shooting. I continued south through the center of the park and found a woman sitting alone on the border of the concrete pool. She told me a shooting had occurred outside of CHOP though she wasn’t sure exactly where.
The woman didn’t have firsthand information about the shooting but she sat near the path our protest group would need to take back to CHOP and she seemed unconcerned for her safety. I decided to return to the protest with confirmation that a shooting had occurred instead of pushing further north for more concrete details.
When I linked back up with the protest I passed along the information I’d acquired to several individuals who appeared to be connected with protest leaders. It also seemed there was an inflow of information through phones and that awareness of a shooting was growing among the crowd. At this point the protest turned off the east/west arterial route we were on to a north/south side street, Harvard Ave, which intersected Pine a few blocks to the south.
Tensions rose as we moved along. About one block north of Pine protest leaders found it prudent to lower the noise profile and move people back to CHOP via an off-street route between businesses. After we crossed Broadway, a major north/south arterial route through Capital Hill, protesters made their way through a final, narrow footpath between buildings before spilling out onto Nagle Place and then over into Cal Anderson park. But as protesters filed across Nagle, a series of gunshots rang out in quick succession from about a hundred yards south, seemingly from Pine.
Only about a quarter to half the crowd had crossed Nagle into Cal Anderson when the shots rang out from the south, and not too far away. I was on Nagle at that time. I didn’t sense bullets flying by but I was concerned for the line of sight that Nagle would provide a shooter looking to fire upon protesters. But looking from cover I could see where Pine and Nagle intersected and it appeared to be clear. Without any information about the shooters location I quickly became concerned for the possibility that the shooter could move west along Pine to Broadway and turn north to come up on our rear to find a tight cluster of protesters stuck between buildings waiting to cross Nagle.
I did my best to move people out of that narrow passageway to Cal Anderson, where they’d at least have the option to move freely in any direction in the event that the protest came under direct fire. Luckily, there was no flanking maneuver and, as far as I know, no other shots were fired through the night.
Back at CHOP, the crowds had cleared though random people milled about, some taking cover behind the barricades while others showed less concern. Security volunteers seemed to be working to organize defense and prepare shelter locations. It was a tense moment. I left shortly after. That is what happened so far as I can attest.
At this point, I’m pretty fucking angry about the way things are going. On the morning of the 22nd, it remains unclear who fired shots and why. It is clear, however, that the gunshots were followed by fireworks all across the city. Many people close to the movement view this as suspect, myself included. The ideologically informed media coverage of our local protest movement, which covers a spectrum ranging from biased reporting to outright lies and fake news, is also clear. As is SPD’s propaganda campaign and their ongoing disinterest to provide security services in these recent moments of crisis, though they’re paid well to do so. SPD is behaving like a spoiled child who’s angry and withholding after being punished for beating its younger sibling. The media largely supports this behavior. Both these things combined, SPD misinformation and media support, work to provide cover to violent nut-jobs at the expense of our sense of security as we exercise our constitutional rights to speech and assembly.
Many of us feel that something’s amisshere. Like there’s an intelligent design behind our increasing sense of exposure and insecurity. As I see it, speaking for myself and no other, we’re being threatened by an elite from the center of a panopticon with insecurity delivered by the “market forces” of misinformation and dis-administration of public safety services. The goal of these threats are to intimidate us into accepting a full “justice” package, to include unnecessary police militarization, profit motivated incarceration (dabbling in slavery) and total surveillance.
This perception of insecurity by design is growing into something that I cannot ignore or dismiss. Maybe things are playing out this way because our protests are also threatening to institutions beyond the police. It holds to reason that all our terrible institutions are intertwined in function and administration, and are therefore interdependent. So then it also seems to hold to reason that individuals at the seat of institutional power collaborate for self and institutional preservation. I know this reads conspiratorial but the public truth has collapsed and so I’m left to my own devices to determine the nature and narrative of truth. I’m hardly alone in this regard. But where to begin?
How about the promise of Big Data?, which is more accurately described as Total Surveillance. Its bargain for regular people was better-informed decision making and therefore better outcomes of every variety, public and private. But this promise has not been fulfilled and basic functionalities of every sort are now held hostage by a tech oligopoly. Indeed, it now appears that this technological panopticon was constructed solely for the preservation of undemocratic, unaccountable power, public and private. Whether the outcome is deliberate or not, it is spreading lies in a targeted manner, which may well have manifest violence in Seattle just last night.
It’s well documented that Facebook facilitated state violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar and that it helped the murderous Rodrigo Duterte rise to power in the Philippines. Now we’re seeing a similar type of thing play out here on our own city streets. How long are we going to avoid that our eyes can see? If independent human sight and reason tends towards the conspiratorial, isn’t that a testament to the damage our public knowledge has sustained? This, to me, is strong evidence against the integrity of recent “upgrades” to our technological and economic design which cannot be fully attributed to the legacy of racism. We therefore need to expand the scope of our protest discourse beyond a critique of systemic racism. This does not have to impose a cost on, or diminish the value of, critiques of systemic racism.
I’m a white dude, so I’m just not the right guy to develop a critique of systemic, institutional racism though I have no interest in undermining those critiques. I support BLM, I’ve marched with BLM and I’ll continue to march with BLM. But as a white dude, I know more than most about two things in particular. Mayonnaise, because it’s so fucking white, and power. Most notably economic power. I want to share what I know and use my pen to reclaim economic dignity for the masses by writing against tech and what’s called “economics.” I’ll bring Harvard elite to heal. Or maybe I’ll only make a fool of myself but I figure it’s worth the risk, given the stakes. I write from CHOP, but I only speak for myself. What I have to offer: you can take it or you can leave it but it’s forthcoming nonetheless. Of course, I hope you’ll stay tuned.