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Platformism & Libertarian Communism – September Reading Group

Sunday, September 1, 2019, 2 PM – 4 PM @ 115 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WAintro-2.jpg

Suggested Readings: “Platformism – an introduction” and “The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists

“Platformism is a current within libertarian communism putting forward specific suggestions on the nature which anarchist organsation should take.

The origins of the Platform lie in the Russian anarchist movement’s experiences during the Russian Revolution and the resulting civil war. One group of anarchist exiles (Dielo Trouda (“Workers’ Cause”) group) came together in 1926 and published The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists, since known as ‘The Platform’. They wrote the pamphlet to examine why the anarchist movement had failed to build on their successes before and during the revolution.”

Reading group texts do not necessarily represent Olympia Assembly, we read them for critical engagement and discussion.

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Seattle WA: #DivestfromICE Protesters Shut Down Bank of the West

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Originally posted on It’s Going Down

EDIT: Since the July 11th demonstration and following similar demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, Bank of the West’s parent company, BNP Paribas has announced its intention to divest from GEO Group! This is the latest victory in a wave of divestments resulting from grassroots pressure.

 

On July 11th, over 30 people picketed outside the downtown Seattle branch of Bank of the West, demanding the bank cut ties with ICE. Protesters attempted to enter the bank branch but were barred by Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers utilizing bicycles as barricades. Shortly after, bank management informed SPD officers that the bank branch had locked its doors. The picket continued for an hour as protesters shouted chants, distributed leaflets to passers-by and continued to block the bank entrance. At 5PM participants in the bank shutdown marched to the Close the Concentration Camps rally at Westlake Center organized by El Comite and May 1st Action Coalition.

Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, a large bank that provides funding to GEO Group, a private prison corporation contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain migrants. GEO Group operates the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, long a site of resistance and migrant solidarity, both inside and outside its walls. According to recent financial records, Bank of the West’s parent company, BNP Paribas, is listed as GEO Group’s “administrative agent” and is one of its leading lenders. Following activist pressure in March 2019, JPMorgan Chase announced that it would cease further financing of the industry. Wells Fargo, US Bank, Bank of America, and SunTrust have also recently pulled back. Without this access to capital, the future for CoreCivic (another large ICE prison contractor) and GEO Group is in jeopardy.

The bank protest was co-hosted by Olympia Assembly, El Comite and May 1st Action Coalition and was organized in conjunction with the July 8th-12 Week of Action to Shut Down ICE Profiteers.

The week of action encouraged concentrated disruptive protest be directed against financial firms invested in ICE prison contractors, GEO Group and CoreCivic. In a number of cities, the call was heeded with shutdowns at Bank of the West and PNC Bank branches, but also with protests at the offices of ICE-tech collaborators, like Microsoft and Amazon.

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Social Ecology – July Reading Group

Sunday, July 14, 2019, 2 PM – 4 PM @ Burial Grounds Coffee 211 5th Ave SE, Olympia

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This month we’ll be reading and discussing the Emily McGuire’s Social Ecology pamphlet.

This illustrated pamphlet is a fun an accessible introduction to social ecology: a theory developed by Murray Bookchin as an appeal for social reconstruction along ecological lines.

Join us for a reading a discussion of social ecology –– whether you’ve done the reading or not.

Reading group texts do not necessarily represent Olympia Assembly, we read them for critical engagement and discussion.

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Evictions at Angelus Apartments Are Only the Beginning

1a11111-1068x601In early May, over a third of tenants of the Angelus Apartments in downtown Olympia were issued 20-day tenancy termination notices. New co-owner of the property, investor and apparent house flipper Tom Glaspie neglected to include any justification for the sudden evictions. Tenants called management to find out why they’re being asked to leave, only to be told they don’t “fit with the plan for the future of the building.” If the plan for the building involves anything like making mad stacks of profit on jacked up rent, newly possible due to creeping gentrification, it requires vacancies. Any low-income tenant in the way already “doesn’t fit with the plan.” Allegations such as noise disturbances, illegal activity and unpaid rent leveled upon tenants by Glaspie that were later reported by news agencies, apparently bore little on the eviction process however. Therefore, instead of issuing “pay or vacate” or “cure or quit” notices that relate to specific landlord-tenant disputes, no-cause tenancy terminations were issued, permitting a swift and indiscriminate boot and hinting at the larger economic forces at work.

Sudden, unexplained mass evictions and likely subsequent conversion of Angelus apartments into expensive, market-rate units is a forewarning to Olympia residents: as our property values increase in our downtown core, real estate investors and developers will gobble up cheap property, drive up rents and kick out lower-income tenants to seek a more affluent and exclusive clientele. The more luxury apartment complexes pop up all over town, the faster residents will be priced out of longtime homes.  

While gentrification can appear a complex and inevitable process, it is constituted by specific individuals who make conscious, calculated decisions: landlords decide to hike rents and evict families and developers decide to tear down low-cost housing and replacing it with luxury units. From a brief gleaning of available public information, Tom Glaspie seems to fit the profile well: a shadow investor who apparently periodically creates shell companies for the purpose of house-flipping and other shady real estate endeavors. Some of these shell companies have been administratively dissolved, indicating sketchy, potentially illicit financial behavior. The predatory real estate industry producing gentrification in city after city is fraught with money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and other illegal activities. In cruel irony, while landlords and real estate investors frequently skirt the law to secure hefty profits, they have no problem invoking the law to punish and displace tenants.

The City of Olympia’s proposed offer of financial assistance (this offer hasn’t been guaranteed as of this writing) to Angelus tenants facing displacement isn’t unusual either. City governments frequently intervene to smooth over the thorniest aspects of gentrification. This often takes the form of punitive policing and the criminalization of homeless and marginalized residents of gentrifying neighborhoods. Olympia is no stranger to anti-homeless practices, from a policy of “whack-a-mole” homeless camp sweeps to the closure of the Artesian Commons. But city governments also assume more conciliatory approaches, such as providing moving assistance to tenants being pushed out. These funds can be crucial for tenants in immediate terms but they do nothing to stymie displacement or address the severe lack of affordable housing. Moreover, the landlord in question is let off the hook. Instead of landlords or developers assuming any responsibility for the social consequences of their actions, the city government effectively subsidizes displacement for them. This pattern could encourage further mass evictions in the future.

The evictions at Angelus are only the beginning. More than ever, it is time to talk, organize and strategize with our neighbors – whether we rent an apartment, own our home or have no housing at all. The gentrified vision of Olympia that the Angelus evictions point to is not an Olympia for its current residents. It is an Olympia for the rich, complete with ugly condos no one can afford and fancy shops selling stuff no one needs. Let’s keep this vision a vision, and not a reality.

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Urban Planning and Capitalism –– June Reading Group

Sunday, June 9, 2019, 2 PM – 4 PM @ Burial Grounds Coffee 211 5th Ave SE, Olympia

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This week we’ll be reading and discussing the essay What is urban planning’s role in the maintenance of capitalism? by Samuel Stein. Also check out this supplemental interview with the author.

In his new book Capital City, Sam Stein describes how one of the tasks of urban planners is to make capitalist development appear to be in the rational best interests of workers and bosses alike. This excerpt explores the coercive role of planners who are part of a system that asks them to sort out who will go where, under what conditions and for whose benefit.

Join us for a reading a discussion of urban planning and it’s role in maintaining capitalism –– whether you’ve done the reading or not.

Reading group texts do not necessarily represent Olympia Assembly, we read them for critical engagement and discussion.