Last night a group of anti-gentrification protesters in Seattle marched through a section of town for a couple hours to complain that white people were living on stolen land. Well, not stolen exactly. They aren’t claiming the black people who used to live in this neighborhood were pushed out at gunpoint. But they are claiming that an injustice has taken place because white people are now living in new homes in this formerly black neighborhood.
The crowd of maybe 50 people was marching down the street after dark chanting “Black people used to live here!” At one point the woman holding the bullhorn and leading the chants noticed a group of white residents having a party on the roof of a multi-story apartment building. “We’re talking to you gentrifiers,” she said. The crowd stopped next to the building and continued chanting at the people on the roof.
At this point one of the other organizers called for a pause so he could say something. “Hey guys, do you know that you are living in a historically black neighborhood right now?” he shouted from the street. “Do you know that before your white ass came here this was all black people?” he added. “Do you know that people like you came in here and basically bought all the land from the black people less than what it was worth, kicked them out so you could live here? Do you know that? Cause if you don’t, now you f**kin do so do something about it.”
“Open your wallet,” the woman with the bullhorn interjected.
The other organizer shouted, “How do you plan to fix it because you are living on black people’s land right now.” He quickly corrected himself, “I mean native land but black people lived here too.”
The woman on the bullhorn had a suggestion for how to fix it. “Is your name [inaudible] or John, whatever it is, give up your house. Give black people back their homes. You’re sitting their comfortably—comfortable as f**k as if they didn’t help gentrify this neighborhood.” She continued, “I used to live in this neighborhood and my family was pushed out and you’re sitting up there having a good time with your other white friends.”
As the ranting from the street continued someone, maybe the bullhorn woman, said, “Guy in the window is calling the cops.” Not long after the crowd moved on.
Here are two clips from a much longer livestream that show part of the interaction. Hat tip to Benjamin Boyce who highlighted this on Twitter.
How fringe is this group? I watched through the livestream and discovered they had held an impromptu outdoor meeting with King County councilmember Girmay Zahilay just a few minutes before this. Zahilay who is newly elected, was asked what more protesters could advocate for.
“I say this land transfer stuff is really important,” he said. He continued, “One of the pieces of the Black Lives Matter demands is economic justice for black people for indigenous people. That needs to look like land transfer in my opinion because land is wealth. Land gets you the facilities and the buildings that you need to take care of one another.”
He said his generation was tired of “symbolic gestures.” “We don’t want that s**t anymore, we want land…give back the land to the people that need it,” he said. Zahilay was talking specifically about land owned by King County but maybe that didn’t fully penetrate with the protesters. It appears what they got from it was: Give us your house.
We’re not quite to the French Revolution stage of dragging people out of their homes yet but we seem to be inching closer. I wonder if this will catch on. The left is already comfortable going into suburban neighborhoods for protests (and vandalism) of elected officials homes. Singling out strangers seems like the next step. And it’s worth noting that this isn’t just harassment it’s explicitly racial harassment.
Scroll to 1:11:00 in this clip for councilmember Zahilay’s take on land transfer as the next frontier in economic justice.
— Concrete Reporting (@ConcreteReports) August 13, 2020
Bonus clip from later in the night: “Gentrifiers get the f**k out and give us our s**t back…Give it back! We’re coming for you. Reparations time.”