Thoughts from a Black Anarchist Concerning the Lack of Momentum in Olympia

For one night, one of the most epic nights, in my life for sure and probably in the history of Olympia, a united front was successfully formed where over 200 people came to flood the streets of Oly and run the Nazi scum out. A strong Bloc of 50 or more were ready and it was enchantingly beautiful, I was amazed. I was proud.

I don’t know what happened after that night, things just fell apart. People began to bicker among themselves and argue with liberals rather than keep things going. Some of us took the initiative and organized anti-nazi night patrols because, while we knew the bulk of them were gone, they still maintained a presence and some people wanted to do something about it. As a black person, if I was the one who got shot by the police I’d be real disappointed with the reaction of the community here, or rather lack of reaction. The calls and protests for justice slowed to a crawl, when there should have been escalation things died down and BlackLivesMatter seemed to fall to the back of peoples minds.

One of the most disappointing things that happened was a march for Andre and Bryson that got derailed. A good number of us showed up to a vigil and we were feeling good and wanted to march, the decision was made by me and other black people and people of color whom were present. A non-black person of color derailed the march for 20 minutes and killed momentum talking about how every action needed to be brought before 3 black women. This line of thinking kills autonomous action which is exactly what we need in situations like this, where we have to bring pressure down on the police to get justice, where we have to show these kids and all black people that their lives matter, and where we have to defend ourselves from nazis that are making it unsafe for queer and trans people and people of color.

After that, people, mostly Anarchists but some others as well, did anti-nazi night patrols that culminated with a large armed patrol on a night that there were rumors of a large number of neo-nazis coming to town. I know folks in the streets were feeling that, they took the time to stop and talk to people about what they were doing and they got a lot of positive reactions. Afterward, liberals and folks who weren’t even there were shit talking the only people who were actually doing anything. Some people raised some valid concerns that should be addressed, like that walking around armed and masked could frighten people and makes them feel uncomfortable, but a lot of what was being said, like circulating pictures of the masked people and asking people to identify them, calling them thugs, or spreading unfounded rumors of property destruction, was unconstructive and harmful.

Action died down, but not too long after, some Anarchists called a meeting for an action. We all came to consensus on the action, time, and place but when the day came by I was the only one who showed up. This is a huge problem, if you are going to be an organizer, you must be reliable and do what you say you are going to do, especially as Anarchists being in such a precarious position with the bad rep we have. Even if no one else shows up, the organizers absolutely have to. In a similar light, people had been complaining about a lack of action since the nazis getting kicked out, so I decided to call for a meeting to discuss actions we could take. I went around informing people about this days before hand and only one person showed up so I called it off. People complaining about a lack of action and then not showing up tells me that they don’t really care, I also feel theres sort of this mode of thinking like “I don’t have to go to it, other people will be there and they don’t need me”, but we do need you, we need people to come to these meetings and lend us their input, experiences, and expertise so we can take effective action when it’s needed.

A huge problem that I have seen is that we let liberals steal our momentum, they talk all kinds of shit and for one reason or another we just freeze. Ultimately, actions need to be taken whether others like it or not, we can’t wait for liberals to call for actions and just tag along, it is imperative that we be able to mobilize a force around issues ourselves, and not just issues that we have as Anarchists; like issues against the police or against the nazis. I feel it’s important to cultivate the ability and be willing to mobilize a force to affirm things like BlackLivesMatter. I’m of the opinion that we should be constantly cultivating relationships, both with our fellow Anarchists and with those who are not Anarchists, to be able to mobilize these forces.

I understand that affinity is a huge Anarchist concept and it’s only natural that we would get together and organize with people we have affinity for, but there’s a point where it seems to become very “clickish” and we don’t go outside these groups and get together with our fellow Anarchists or go outside the Anarchist scene at all. All I’m saying is that we have taken very little or no steps at all towards building sustainable communities of resistance that can handle large and short notice mobilizations and can bring a force to bear against the state. I firmly believe the biggest step we can take towards that is to reach outside of our small groups and link up with other Anarchists and with other people in general.

In general, I am quickly growing very disillusioned with the Anarchist community here in Olympia. We can not afford to be so reactionary and non-commital, nor can we afford to be paralyzed by liberals preventing us from taking autonomous action. To affirm things like BlackLivesMatter, or that No One is Illegal, or that Strong Communities Make Police Obsolete, or what ever slogan we are chanting, we have to be prepared to do the not so fun and glamorous work of building relationships and communities so we can proactively mobilize and be on the attack rather than be reactionary waiting for something to happen and tearing each other apart in the meantime.

So yeah, for one night, one beautiful, amazing night we had unity, we had rage, we had solidarity, we came together and we smashed fascists and ran them out of town. Yet two black kids remain shot in the back, one paralyzed from the waist down, no police accountability and with things in disarray, how do we bring the momentum back? How do we utilize our rage? How do we create solidarity? How do we build community? How can we keep it cemented in our hearts that most definitely BlackLivesMatter?