From Occupying Banks to Building Community


Occupy Seattle Tents packed next the farmers market on Sunday, October 30th. Photo by chadswaney.

Over the last week Occupy Seattle has been steadily building strength. And while actions like bank occupations, disrupting CEO talks and celebrating bank transfer day have grabbed national headlines, the camp at Seattle Central Community College has flourished.

Dozens of tents are packed in tight, the kitchen is bustling, the information booth is stock full of literature and other resources. This week there will be many events that continue to build that community: dance parties, multi-media nights, quilting (to support Rise and Decolonize!), meditation, guerrilla composting, teach-ins, and much, much more.

And there will of course be more actions: On Wednesday, a UAW sponsored Chase Bank Action; on Thurdsay, a rally for Port of Seattle Workers; and on Friday, a Veterans Day Parade.

However, before we march headlong into the future, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the last week. What follows is the Statement of the Bank Occupier of November 2, 2011 that was written by the five folks who went into the Chase bank branch on Broadway and E. Thomas in Capitol Hill, locked down, and shut down the bank for 2 hours. OccupySeattle.org hasn’t been able to post their statement until now, but it is definitely worth your time:

Statement of the Bank Occupier of November 2, 2011

We, independent members of the Occupy Seattle movement, are occupying this Chase bank to interrupt business as usual. We are here to show you that the polished, sanitized spaces of our day-to-day lives are places of horror. Banks don’t simply add arbitrary fees to debit cards or double your interest rates. They perpetuate poverty. They drive homelessness, and with it joblessness and the denial of healthcare. They force people out of homes through sub-prime lending and foreclosures, gentrifying neighborhoods in their wake by investing in real estate and construction firms that build condos and drive up market rates. They help make your “up-and-coming” neighborhoods whiter and wealthier and dispossess everyone needed to make them so. And for those who operate at the margins of society, committing victimless “crimes” or trying to save themselves and their families from starvation, banks are there to dehumanize them when they land in a private prison or get locked up in a immigrant concentration camp, like Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center (its extensive human rights abuse courtesy of Wells Fargo). All while executives reward themselves with millions for lives they have ruined and will ruin again, for a bottom line written in blood.

This movement isn’t just about bailouts. It’s not even about CEO salaries, corporate taxation, or campaign finance reform. The extremes of social and economic injustice most people experience today existed way before the recession, before Citizens United, and before executive pay skyrocketed in the last half-century. It’s about a culture. It’s about the logical consequences of capitalism. It’s about what those of us who grew up in America have heard since day one-the strong survive, the cream rises to the top. But the strength of those on top rests on the backs of millions who were never given a chance to achieve, the cream stays white, and the playing field is never even. It’s about the expectation your value value as a person lies in your ability to drain money out of other people, and not in your ability to pursue your dreams in solidarity with fellow dreamers.

We refuse to live in a world in which power matters more than human lives and transactions more than relationships. We refuse to live in a world where survival-“getting a job”-means increasing the wealth of our bosses. We refuse to live in a world, in a country that never outgrew slavery-only sublimated it to the point we don’t recognize it, because its whips and chains have been replaced by redlining and unaffordable healthcare, or else hidden in the prisons that warehouse the people of color once enchained out in the open. We refuse to live a world that inevitably confers privilege to upper-class, straight, white men, as it does under the rule of capital and the perpetual indentured servitude of the oppressed. We refuse to live in a world where we are accountable to anyone than our interdependent equals. We refuse to live in a world where we are anything other than absolutely free.

Live your desires. Join us. This world is ours-all of ours-and don’t let them tell you anything different. We will build it together.

In solidarity with you in your own struggles,
Occupiers of Seattle

Our Purpose

We, participants in Occupy Seattle, have independently chosen to occupy, to put our bodies on the line in order to shut down a location of Chase Bank.

Chase Bank, the corporation that owns it, and the system that it represents, act to defend and fortify the 1%. They enable the river of wealth from which the 1% drink, they make the flow of wealth from the many of the few possible and profitable. Chase Bank and every other bank make obscene profits from massive foreclosures and the suffering of people throughout the US and the globe.

Banks uphold and enable a rotting system. Both democrat and republican parties and the governing bodies they manage have proven incapable of solving this crisis; they’ve proven incapable of meeting the needs of people; they’ve proven incapable of stopping the mechanized domination of other nations and people. Rather than serve us, politicians serve the 1% and their system.

The list of grievances of the 99% is practically without limit.

Our occupations have proven once and for all:

Mic Check! [Mic Check!]

The world [The World]

Does not [Does not]

Have to [Have to]

Be this way! [BE THIS WAY!]

Banks are not only responsible for crisis, poverty, and extreme wealth inequality but they are also working directly against the Occupy movement. The day after the NYPD “kettled” and arrested 700 New York occupiers, the Chase bank donated 4.6 million dollars to the New York City Police Foundation-the largest in its history.

We are occupying this bank and risking our safety in order to show you, the people, we are fighting for a world without banks, without poverty, without the wealth of the world owned by a tiny minority. We are out to change the whole planet. Starting. Right. Here.

Today the call from Occupy Oakland goes out: “General Strike!” We stand with them. Occupy together. Occupy the world.

6 Responses to From Occupying Banks to Building Community

  • msmikestew35 says:

    I’m happy to see this statement. While the organizers seem to have tried their best to suppress it, now we finally have it. This part is crucial :

    “This movement isn’t just about bailouts. It’s not even about CEO salaries, corporate taxation, or campaign finance reform. The extremes of social and economic injustice most people experience today existed way before the recession, before Citizens United, and before executive pay skyrocketed in the last half-century. It’s about a culture. It’s about the logical consequences of capitalism. It’s about what those of us who grew up in America have heard since day one-the strong survive, the cream rises to the top. But the strength of those on top rests on the backs of millions who were never given a chance to achieve, the cream stays white, and the playing field is never even. It’s about the expectation your value value as a person lies in your ability to drain money out of other people, and not in your ability to pursue your dreams in solidarity with fellow dreamers.”

    The only negative comment I have is the bringing up of race, gender to this. All white people are not wealthy, all women are not economically less capable than men. Ultimately, capitalism has certain levers to give some level of equality to sex, race but it has no lever to create class equality.

    And those most serious about ending race, sex discrimination realize that the first step is to abolish capitalism and strive for a classless society. Once men, women are free to pursue their ambitions without the profit rate of the bosses at their back, the mind goes through a shift, we get a real opportunity to reflect on prejudices and iron them out.

  • Arif says:

    pardon, paragraph 3, ‘coarse’ should be spelled ‘course’.

  • Ocelot says:

    Hey,

    I’m one of the five Chase occupiers and I drafted our press release (the first half of the document above). Between the time we finished editing the piece and when it started showing up in the media (basically, here, Puget Sound Anarchists, and The Stranger), it acquired a few typos. Is it cool if I send the final version of the statement to someone in Internet & Communications just so what appears here can get touched up a little? Sorry for the nitpicking.

    • chr15 says:

      just send it to christopheaton [at] gmail [dot] com

      personally I want to apologize for this taking so long to put up. i took it on as my responsibility and life got in the way.

      thank you for stepping up with such an inspiring action.

  • Joseph C. Carbone III says:

    18 November 2011

    First of all, every one of these criminals who are pepper-spraying, shooting projectiles, bashing, dragging, and detaining, and their chiefs, and every one of their associated officials needs to be indicted and convicted.

    To all of us, pepper spray, “is not age-specific,” says Detective Jeff Campbell of the Seattle Police Department.

    Only an uneducated, maladjusted, and hateful individual would make such a statement, and there are many of them in our government. Otherwise, why is the Congress and the White House allowing these abuses to continue? If there was ever a need to call the FBI to arrest police officers, we have seen it day after day, but our public servants do not care. Instead, they methodically, and with purposeful direction, support these criminals with their silence.

    By Detective Campbell’s standards, elderly people are no more susceptible to strokes, heart attacks, or life-threatening seizures. Furthermore, falling and breaking a hip, from the shock, and consequently dying from infection would be unrelated. This mouthpiece’s, of the corporations, ignorant statement is no different than the assertion: there is no evident difference between the extreme physical abuses put upon the body of an 80-year-old compared to an 18-year-old.

    Sincerely,
    Joseph C. Carbone III