Seattle May Day 2014: An Anti-Capitalist Tradition!
For the third year in a row, an explicitly anti-capitalist march was called for in Seattle for May Day. This year, there were two, one beginning on Capitol Hill and the other at the Youth Jail in the Central District. The two both began in the early evening and converged together, weaving from the Hill through Yesler Terrace, a site of ongoing gentrification, on through downtown. The march included hundreds of anti-capitalist demonstrators, some masked up, some carrying anarchist banners, and others chanting or yelling at the police. The overall atmosphere was one of celebration as well as antagonism.
May Day itself was born out of an antagonistic struggle against working conditions and has since become a symbol of celebration, for the fight for a better life, a life without the State or capital. In Seattle, the Immigrants’ Rights March organized by El Comité, has kept the May Day momentum alive for the last several years. However, since Occupy Seattle reinvigorated the spirit of rebellion in thousands of people, May Day has again become an explicitly anti-capitalist holiday for many.
The first anti-capitalist march occurred in 2012 as part of the final hooray of Occupy Seattle. The march was wild, full of riotous behavior and targeted property destruction including much of the commercial downtown area and a federal courthouse. However, many people forget that there were two more spirited marches later that day. There was a ‘Honor the Dead, Fight for the Living’ demonstration in which people called to the memory of those killed by the police such as local Native man, John T. Williams, as well as anarchist martyrs such as Louis Lingg. The march was full of scuffles with the police. Later on, there was an, ’Anti-Border, Anti-Prison’ demonstration that shared the same heightened energy from the previous two demonstrations of the day.
Last year, the second annual anti-capitalist march was called in the wake of the previous year’s momentum. It was a passionate affair. A couple hundred anti-capitalist demonstrators marched through the streets of Seattle, dancing, fighting the police, breaking a few windows and chanting together.
The police and the media attempt to paint the revitalization of the May Day tradition by anti-capitalists as a marginalized effort. Yet, the past three years have proved that May Day is in fact not a fluke, but a tradition that still contains the power of the anti-capitalist struggle that flourished in May 1886 in Chicago. Police, media, and enemies alike, often question the purpose or intent of a wild demonstration with seemingly no aim or demand. They themselves live inside a shortsighted framework, a stunted world. As anarchists, rebels, and antagonistic we have a history that extends hundreds of years, a proud history. Our struggle has been and will be endless, as long as the State, capital and all those that attempt to suppress and oppress us exist, we will remain uncontrollable. This is the reality we live in, one where our enemies our so vast and dominant that a simple demand or action on one day could never destroy them. Instead, the destruction of the State and capital will have to come from generations and centuries of undying bold conflict.
Yesterday, we marched through the streets, chanted slogans, danced in intersections, de-arrested each other, fought off the superheroes, threw bottles and bricks at the police, lit fireworks and flares, gathered around a bonfire in the middle of the street, and shared a collective moment of communal existence and freedom that we do not often experience in the banal existence of our daily lives. In these moments, we share a look into what the future could hold, what we hold in ourselves and with each other, and what our fellow rebels held in the past. Regardless of the level of our attack or activity, we were able to find each other last night and hopefully many of us are now reminded that we are not alone and that we never were. In the future, we may take over the empty condominium buildings, tear up the concrete and plant gardens, push out the police, occupy the schools, destroy the banks, and experience a long-lasting freedom that we have yet to imagine. Yet in this moment, we should be proud of where we stand today, as enemies of the State and capital, and as lovers of freedom and autonomy.
Here’s to building a long-lasting tradition of an anti-capitalist May Day in Seattle!
Freedom and Anarchy! Long Live the Memory of those Killed by the Police and the Borders! Long Live the Haymarket Anarchists!