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Wrong lessons learned from STAR WARS lead to fascist rally in small town

Out of town fans of the Galactic Empire stage fascism LARP in Aberdeen causing many locals to fear for their safety.

///CONTENT WARNING/// This article mentions sexual abuse involving minors, contains transphobic language and images, direct screenshots from literal neo-nazis, including white supremacy, antisemitism, and discussion of the potential for violence.
Our small town was threatened by fascist street gangs aligning themselves with local hate group SOAP, local candidates for City Council, and armed right wing militias who showed up to defend against a non existent threat they cooked up in order to support an actual child abuser and his hate speech. What follows is a detailed timeline of the events of the next few days, starting with the story of the original sign in Tiesa’s own words below. We will examine the order of events, and how this spread throughout the country, namely in the right wing ecosystem. We will then debrief on what we learned during and immediately after this event, and finish up with some lessons learned and ways to be more prepared next time.
// UPDATES AT BOTTOM //

WEDNESDAY THE 4TH

As mentioned in her post below Tiesa entered the store on Wednesday and her interaction was filmed. She was there as a private citizen, the fact of her position on the council was brought up by Don in a snide jab about her gender transition. She can be seen backing away from Don’s approach and upon being asked to leave she promptly did so. Don couldn’t let this go though, word around town would suggest he is probably not used to being called out on his bullshit. So naturally he followed Tiesa out onto the sidewalk he apparently thinks he owns and is always littered with his junk. He asked her what her sexual organs were and his behavior was even challenged by an onlooker who was simply passing by at the time.

The transphobic sign that started this all, referencing the stale topic of Dr. Seuss and entirely misunderstanding how to end a sentence with a period.

Wednesday August 4th, 3:02PM

From Tiesa’s Facebook Page:

There is a store downtown that I used to think was pretty cool, even though the owner had some wild beliefs. But, today I learned that he put up a sign that was a direct attack on me personally as well as every trans member of our community.

So, I went down to just see if this was real and if so I was going to grab a picture and leave. The business owner had other plans which are in the videos.

We have the right to be who we are and no one gets to belittle us, ever!

#transwomen #lgbtqia #humanrights #transrightsarehumanrights

Part 1

Part 2

This post was shared with our group shortly after being posted to Tiesa’s personal page. Wednesday evening was when some local residents started suggesting and circulating calls for an action outside his shop on Saturday August 7th at 10AM. Our group reached out to the people making these suggestions to try and form a plan for what seemed like something with a potential for violence from the local reactionary right. We asked for consent in sharing the call for action on our public page and received it.

Wednesday August 4th at 6:27PM – Our original post once the decision was made internally to join the calls for actions, and consent was obtained from those originally calling for action:

🤬🤬🤬 CONTENT WARNING – Transphobia ****🚨🚨🚨JUST HAPPENED IN DOWNTOWN ABERDEEN.👇👇👇Call to action below.

🔥Our entire community is outraged at this disgusting display of hate. An attack on one is an attack on all. The video is of Don Sucher of Sucher & Sons Star Wars Shop, phone number 360 970 7080, harassing a member of Aberdeen City Council and fiercely brave trans woman Tiesa Meri Meskis Aberdeen City Council over her mere existence apparently.

📆MARK YOUR CALENDAR –

Saturday August 7TH at 10:00AM.

There have been grassroots calls for a protest against this individual outside of their business on Saturday.

✊We will be out to support and possibly live stream. Bring big beautiful signs carrying your message of support for our trans community. Other creative acts of resistance are always encouraged. Give Ol’ Don a ring, stop by and let him know what you think of his actions, let Google know, Yelp, Trip Advisor, whatever the hell Foursquare is… You get it. 😉

We went to bed Wednesday night thinking that, although plans should be made and contingencies planned for, the event looked like a relatively calm and certainly peaceful signholding demonstration outside the shop. Nothing crazy, just some families showing love and support to the trans folks we all know.

THURSDAY THE 5TH

Thursday, August 5th, 3:31 PM – Unbeknownst to us the story appears on Stormfront.

We woke up on Thursday to a new landscape, one in which the story had been picked up by Seattle news outlet King 5. One in which the right wing reaction had already gone far beyond what we had originally expected. Not expecting any announcement of our little protest on air, we were excited to see a major outlet like King 5 provide exposure to the story.

Thursday, August 5th, 3:31 PM – CRMAN Facebook:

UPDATE – We have been informed that KING 5 will be airing a segment covering this developing story at 4 PM. Please consider turning up to watch the broadcast and share this story as widely as you can.

Thursday, August 5th, 4:00 PM – King 5 aired their segment live on air, mentioning the grassroots calls for action inaccurately as a protest planned BY Tiesa in a move that can only be called irresponsible. WATCH KING 5 COVERAGE HERE. A short while later a corresponding article and Facebook post was made. Both went viral immediately.

Thursday, August 5th, 4:52pm – We were made aware of and shared the moving and brave story of a woman who had survived years of abuse at the hands of this man, as a runaway, and growing up into adulthood. This story was the watershed moment of us receiving many tips from all over town about Don’s storied past. We posted:

CRMAN: An incredible show of strength from this survivor of abuse at the hands of Don Sucher at Sucher & Sons Star Wars Shop . Thank you for sharing your story, this is clearly an individual with a HISTORY of abusive behavior.

Original Poster:

I have known the owner of Sucher & Sons Star Wars Shop since I was a young child, because my mom would take my brothers and I to the store as kids.

When I was a teenager I began working for him at the store. I even started a Facebook page for the shop. I was thrilled because it was my first ever social media client.

 

As an adult, knowing what sexual harassment and exploitation is, I see how Don groomed me. I believed he was just an old man, who loved Star Wars and was a little cooky.

 

But he isn’t just a cooky old man. He is a grooming, transphobic, racist man.

 

Like I said before, I started working for Don when I was 16 years old. I’d come to work and he’d make constant statements about my appearance… Calling me a “ripe tomato” and telling me how disappointed he was that I wasn’t 18 yet. If I ever wore my hair up, he would touch my neck – so I stopped wearing my hair up around him.

 

I felt like I owed him. I was a 16 year old runaway who had a job that paid me cash daily. I would’ve done just about anything to stay employed. Including wearing the Leia costume, and dealing with his constant harassment. He’d tell me about his sexual exploits and talk about women in disgusting ways.

 

After I turned 18, he proceeded to tell me repeatedly over the years that he’d pay me to have sex with him. I’d laugh it off. He was an innocent old man. He wasn’t serious. I thought…

 

Then when I was 20, he asked me if he could take a picture of my vagina with his digital camera. I told him no repeatedly, and finally told him I’d take pictures in Star Wars underwear at home… Which I did and they are still in the store to this day even though I have asked him to take it down.

 

Over the course of the last 9 years I have been much less involved with the Star Wars Shop, but have still been recommending that fans and friends go to the store for an incredible experience.

I was blinded, groomed and manipulated.
Don’t go there.
Don’t support this store.

 

If you love Star Wars, find another person to support. Not this person who exploits teenagers and abuses women.

 

I’m sorry that I didn’t open my eyes earlier and stand up against him.

 

**(youtube video links redacted, see above)**(Trans women are women and it shouldn’t need to be affirmed in this statement, but here it is clear as day.)

The response to all these events on social media was, unsurprisingly, toxic and disgusting. Many of the usual white nationalists, holocaust deniers, TERFs, and other reactionaries showed up to attach themselves to this situation. We do not engage in such conversations and these cowards were silenced by our moderators. Although we certainly were not surprised by the reaction online nor the possibility of some local assholes showing up armed again, as we have seen in the past, we never expected what happened next.

Even with the low level of risk presenting itself as Thursday drew to a close CRMAN tried to impress upon those calling for actions the importance of transparency and that we felt the situation called for a full cancellation in the name of safety. It may have felt like a bit of an overreaction at the time but come midday Friday we would all agree that canceling, as best we could, was the only safe move. We at CRMAN also realized that simply posting a cancellation on our page wasn’t going to reach everyone the original call did, and even if it did some would undoubtedly not take our advice and choose to show up anyway. There was also the danger posed to our unhoused community who were also aware of the situation and seeking justice, but couldn’t simply “avoid the area”. The decision was made internally for a small team of medical responders would show up and observe the crowds, moving in for triage and extraction as best we could if the need arose. We began to coordinate with regional mutual aid and street medics groups to get as much support as possible for the day of.

FRIDAY THE 6TH

Friday August 6th, 10:50 AM – Tiesa took to her City Council page to post the following clarifications based on the already shifting narratives being perpetuated on the right in mostly local comment threads on the related posts on Facebook.

As many have seen the videos I posted on my personal Facebook page and from there they have been shared, by others, on many other platforms I am pretty certain you know what this post will be about and I would ask that you actually read through the entire thing before rushing to judgment.

On Wednesday, August, 4th I received a call from Hoquiam resident *name redacted* who was very distraught about a hateful, transphobic sign prominently displayed in a local business, where children visiting the shop could clearly see it. She sent me a picture of the sign and I was floored that this was anywhere near a place that is advertised as a family-friendly business, and above all, they focus on one of my favorite movie series, Star Wars.

My partner *name redacted* and I decided that we needed to verify whether this was the case and came up with a plan to simply go in, test the waters, get a photo of the sign, and get out. Unfortunately, because of many issues we also had to be prepared to record video as a form of defense if the shop owner decided to become aggressive. Had this been a false claim or the owner had a change of heart we were looking forward to getting something for our daughter’s upcoming birthday as she loves Chewbacca.

Julie went in first to determine how Mr. Sucher would treat a cis woman, and she was greeted with the usual welcome and everything is on sale and 50% off. I entered the shop and met up with her and that is when Mr. Sucher’s attitude changed dramatically.

As I made my way to the sign he wound around and got to it first and took it down and placed it behind him against a trunk. This is where the video footage started and Mr. Sucher responded to my simple question with a verbally abusive attack.

Since posting the videos there have been calls to rally and protest from many different groups, though I will say that I have not once asked anyone to do anything other than listen and watch. I would speak to everyone that is planning to come to Aberdeen and rally/protest/have a cheeseburger, please do so peaceably.

I do not wish any harm on anyone, including Mr. Sucher. Any rallies, please make them about peace, acceptance, and love for our community.

My partner and I have been overwhelmed with the support we have gotten from so many people! Your words of kindness have negated the hateful messages we have been getting one hundredfold.

Lastly, I would like to say that hate speech of this kind and discrimination of any form is unacceptable. I took an oath when I joined the council, I have taken oaths previously as an Eagle Scout and Taekwon-Do practitioner to stand up to injustice and fight against it. I will fight for our rights to exist and be who we are, but I will do so without violence and work toward making a more peaceful world.

Friday August 6th, 11:00 AM – Despite NOT having organized this protest, we had decided the previous night to do whatever we could to “cancel” this “protest” after King 5 announced LIVE ON AIR that there would be an action outside his shop at 10 AM on Saturday, August 7th, and that Don was assembling his supporters to counter. With that, the local group of trans supporters and families waving signs that was planned ballooned into some sort of antifa-commie-battle in the way-gone conspiracy laden minds of some on the right. This broadcast made its rounds and before long the right wing outrage machine had spun itself up into high gear taking the usual narrative and trying to flatten our complex local situation to fit their pre constructed narrative.

Friday, August 6th at 11:12 AM

Our public post cancelling the original call to action:

🚨🚨🚨 PROTEST POSTPONED. You are advised to AVOID THE AREA around the Star Wars Shop this Saturday if possible. We must protest this, but another day.

PLEASE SHARE.
Because of the INTENSE amount of attention this protest has received, we as CRMAN are not comfortable encouraging people to attend this protest. The people who called for it originally have agreed this is best as well.
After being announced live on air by king 5 this story blew up and is now ALL OVER the internet. There is already a counter protest planned and it doesn’t seem safe based on previous armed chud actions here in town.
Other arrangements will be made for a safe place to chill on the day of for those who do come. CRMAN will still be there to inform people who DO show up what’s going on and try to keep people safe, but if you are not comfortable helping us do that PLEASE AVOID THE AREA.
Obviously this doesn’t mean we don’t support a protest any other day, just not this day that has so much publicity. There are any number of days to protest this creep that dont endanger us. On terms we set.

Stay safe out there.

Friday August 6th, 2:00 PM – We quickly started receiving messages from all over about the potential for violence from the growing mass of angry and well-armed assholes. This new information was not contained to the hellscape of social media bots and trolls, this time they included many credible threats and stories of people planning to come in from halfway across the country. As mentioned above there had been alternative plans made to hold space off-site as a safe alternative but support for that was pulled around 3PM on Friday. We adapted our plan many times throughout the day on Friday and by the end were resigned to getting the word out as best we could to STAY AWAY if possible. We also realized that our unhoused neighbors do not have that luxury and live and congregate in that area. Our priority was keeping them any anyone else who still showed up as safe as we could.

Friday, August 6th, 3 PM – The story officially went national, appearing on MSN, the WA examiner, NY Post, and Steven Crowder ran the story along with many similar but smaller right wing outrage generators. What started as a local and peaceful dispute between two residents in this small town grew in the minds of some on the right to be another boogeyman. A reason to issue their call to arms in defense of this poor veteran’s endangered shop. The penultimate nod to how big of a trigger this was and the type of people being triggered was the stories appearance on the infamous white supremacist hate site Stormfront. Stormfront’s wikipedia can do a better job explaining what its all about for the unaware. The following screenshots are alarming and should be viewed with discretion but do a SHOCKINGLY good job of illustrating both the typical arguments from Don’s supporters as well as the typical audience for this sort of drivel. All from the internet’s most famous white supremacist hate site. Let’s look closer at that which is hard to view and be aware of where these arguments originate and fester the next time we hear it from the mouth of a fellow family member, church congregant, or friend. There is a reason why these avowed white supremacists latch onto and advance certain narratives.

CAUTION     CAUTION     CAUTION        CLICK WITH CARE This link redirects to a page with screenshots of stormfront’s forum posts. it will not take you to the actual website
//CW// EXTREME Antisemitism and transphobia
Stormfront’s forum logs  **UPDATE – While it was originally assumed to have ended up at Stormfront closer inspection shows that the neo nazis forum was one of the stories first stops outside of Grays Harbor County.

Friday August 6th, 4:05 PMOur focus soon turned to emergency response, not that our small collective was prepared for that any more than we were prepared for anything else we’ve ever done. But we made a plan with what we had and aimed to be able to extract any individuals who found themselves in the harm’s way. Our hearts overflowed with what we did end up having though as it expanded to include many instances of regional and national solidarity. One comrade from Atlanta spent their free time doing some valuable internet sleuthing for us and also was able to shut down a group text that Don set up. His son also set up a GoFundMe…for funds I suppose. Never hurts to capitalize off of the situation.

SATURDAY THE 7TH

Saturday, August 7th, 8:00 AM – The day of, we were in place to observe and respond to emergency situations. We knew that regardless what we asked people to do in regards to avoiding the area that a certain number of dedicated people would still show up. There was no presence outside the store around 8 AM, by 9 AM a small group of 4 or 5 had begun to form in front of the store. At this time they did not appear to be proud boys or militia but had American flags and some small signs. We remained mobile throughout the day and soon we noticed a small group of people showing up to support the trans community as we had expected. They were approached by and engaged in conversation with people headed to and from the store. Nothing violent but, as the anti trans crowd grew and more and more out of town plates started showing up and the proud boys uniforms became prominent among the crowd, many disgusting signs were seen as well as harassment shouted at these demonstrators.

Saturday, August 7th, 10:00 AM – As the now cancelled start time of ten approached, our group was relieved to see that the situation seemed to have been de escalated by the attempt to advise people to stay away. While perhaps 150 people flowed in and out of the “support the child molester side” there was no mistaking that there was no threat for them to defend against. They had engineered a threat and responded unnecessarily to a threat existing only within their minds. Around 10:30 the majority of the pro-trans group had congregated at nearby Zelasko Park, just down the road. We did observe one person stay, by themselves, feet planted in one spot, smiling with their sign at passing traffic and sneering fascists, in the very middle of everything – ALL. DAY.

Saturday, August 7th, 11:00 AM – Things slowly started to clear out as the people expecting a fight who didn’t get it probably had to get back down to Portland to terrorize that poor city more. Our local anti homeless/ addict hate group ‘Save Our Aberdeen Please’ (SOAP) was of course present from the get go and even went out of their way to clear up any confusion online as to where they stood on supporting Don.

Saturday, August 7th, 3:00 PM – It had cleared out enough that our crew took a break and ran our normal mobile route to get out the news of the day to those living outside and to warn them about possible violence from blue-balled proud boys looking to beat up on the local unhoused after the sun went down. We dropped off some supplies to a few places and decided things were calm enough to have the normally scheduled community meal at Zelasko Park we have been doing every Saturday for months now. We tailgated it up with some pizza, soda, and the basic hygiene supplies we normally carry with us. There was a wholly unrelated wound that needed some tending too, and we finally connected with the pro-trans sign holders who were STILL THERE, long after the out of town unfriendlies had given up and gone home.

Saturday, August 7th, 5:00 PM –We offered some food and made connections, talking with them about the day and the different dynamics of the last few days. What we discovered was that as soon as the threat to our city was gone and people felt safe to do so, those out to support the trans community made their voices and car horns heard in support of the remaining demonstrators. People stopped and yelled out their windows about bad experiences with Don or just shouted thanks for showing up. Some even parked and stood with them until it was time to go. We all watched out for each other as we made our ways to our vehicles. Everyone made it home safe – shaken, more or less traumatized, and in ever present danger from the far right for simply existing – but safe and alive.

Saturday, August 7th, 8:00 PM – Immediately that same night we began the process of sharing resources for recovering from trauma and compiling the timeline of events that served as the backbone for this article. We searched through EVERY article from EVERY outlet on this story. Turns out most “reporting” is just copy pasting the King 5 article or the Washington Examiner, but they showed a timestamp of the progression of this stories journey around the world. The overriding assumption we had been working on was that King 5 was the first outlet outside of our hyper local area to pick up the story and announce the time and place of the protest to the wide world. We were wrong. It turns out after looking at all the timestamps it appeared on Stormfront hours before appearing on King 5. In other words, it appeared on Stormfront before it left the Harbor. When we examine the thread from the explicitly white nationalist white supremacist website we can that it appears for the first time at 7:41 AM on August 5th, it wouldn’t appear on King 5’s live broadcast until 4 PM that same day.

This is not altogether surprising since our area is ripe with Neo-pagan fascists and Neo-nazis. It also fits the pattern of these message boards not being the place where right wing talking points end up, but often where they originate. This phenomena of right wing narratives and conspiracy theories originating in Neo-nazi corners of the dark web and making their way to the average American dinner tables is starting to be more well understood and well documented. John Oliver famously did a whole segment on the white supremacist to Tucker Carlson pipeline. This well funded hate machine picks up a narrative from the sort of places where people aren’t afraid to say “its the Jews” and it gets bounced around the lower level Andy Ngo/Steven Crowder grifter types, where the language must be first coded to talk about capital A “Antifa” and “BLM” or the “Democrats” instead but the overall narrative stays the same. The timeless chant of the oppressor:

Be scared, the reason you have so little is because of those with less power than you, not more. You think you have complaints now, oh just wait, if you don’t support me you could have even less. These people who disagree with us aren’t even real people, Americans, etc.

Well we think your politics are boring as fuck!

After being laundered for a more mainstream audience, primed for years to look forward to turning their outrage to a new manufactured problem delivered to them by FOX, it makes it’s way to Tucker Carlson and BOOM, that’s how you get white supremacist narratives at your dinner table. Our group actually ended up being called out by Andy Ngo on his twitter. For those who are unaware Andy Ngo, who we have it on good authority is the type of person who leaves their brights on as they pass you, is also a low effort troll on the far right. He is famous for his doxxing of antifascists and leftists and so called Antifa. It’s hard when EVERYONE is Antifa though. After loosing his job at the Quilette for witnessing the Proud Boys planning a violent attack on Portland activists and doing absolutely nothing to stop or report it. He now poorly edits The Post Millennial (think Der Stürmer meets VICE News) and is known to love a nice cold milkshake on a hot summer day. He sees antifa as a boogeyman, a shadowy organization that controls all dissent and all opposition to those whose political leanings could well be described as fascist. He probably checks under the bed each night, poor guy. Andy Ngo uses Antifa as a tool to code for more standard white supremacist thoughts as well as stirring up the outrage trolls of the far right to harass, threaten, intimidate, and doxx people he deems to be Antifa.

Andy Ngo, seen here having brought all the antifascists to the yard.
Andy’s first post about the issue at 10:53 AM Friday, August 6th.
Andy doxxes and deadnames Tiesa, as well as calls out our group as the feared Antifa group.

You know what ANDY, we get similar messages when you report on ANTIFA. The difference is armed militias actually showed up in our small rural town becasuse of YOUR efforts.

Hate mail received by CRMAN

Him and others like him helped create the narrative that our group was “Antifa”, either some invading force from Seattle or Portland. Or perhaps an outpost located in Aberdeen itself. They also created out of whole cloth the idea that what was intended (and ended up being the case) wasn’t a small local affair, some sign waiving in support of our trans community, but in fact Antifa coming into Aberdeen to destroy this poor veteran’s business. They accomplished this feat in less than 24 hrs. The participants in this network all live in Grays Harbor. As previously mentioned the “counter-protesters” did not. So, an outside force of armed and violent people descended on our town in order to “save” this man from a supposed outside force coming to descend on our town – a wholly manufactured narrative they themselves created. They supposedly came to defend his free speech as well. That means that a small group of people in a small city somewhere can ask their friends on Facebook to join them down at the corner some weekend to express THEIR free speech and demonstrate support for THEIR firmly held beliefs and some group of out of towners looking for a fight might very well come into their town to shut it down. That’s what they did. They came to intimidate US, harass US, and scare US into NOT coming down to enjoy the very same “right” they are supposedly standing to defend. The hypocrisy doesn’t end there. We mentioned previously that SOAP made an appearance. For a previous history of this local hate groups actions and rhetoric regarding their dog whistles of “Cleaning up Aberdeen” check out our previous reporting in them here, here and here. From the poor and homeless to the LGBTQ2IAX+ community they see us as dirt that needs to be scrubbed of the face of the earth. They see us as avirus, not their peers, not their family, not their neighbors. They have completely dehumanized us for many years, and now we see the results. This SOAP presence included city council candidate Kacey Ann Morrison, who has left us all with no more misgivings about where her political alignments are – fascist street gangs to say the least. On top of dodging questions on her socials about Jim Walsh and antisemitism, she has taken her politics to the next logical step. Let’s take a minute to examine the narrative Kacey Ann is trying to advance even as this report is written.

Kacey Ann’s photo album from the day

Kacey Ann is saying that because Tiesa sits on City Council here in Aberdeen that she was, and presumably always is, automatically acting in her role as councilwomen and therefore the actions in the video must constitute government interference in business.

Well we have news for you Kacey, Wilapa Behavioral Health is a business too.

Are we to believe that you and Debi Ann plan to stop interfering with their business if/when you are seated on the City Council? What a joke! First of all, legally speaking, any council member can simply state their intentions to act as a private citizen and that seems to be enough. But in regards to Kacey Ann – This is a person who has been standing outside of the local needle exchange in town, now operated by a private business, protesting with signs for the entirety of the program. So they think its fine for them to show up to harass and intimidate both clients and staff of the businesses they don’t like, and its OK to hold a protest outside of it EVERY WEEK if they don’t like it. But if anyone else wants to do the same thing they call the militias in. We all know her desire to get onto city council and “Clean Up Aberdeen” is spurred by her anti homeless, anti addict hate work. I doubt anyone sincerely believes that she or any other SOAPists will be leaving the good folks at WBH alone as soon as they take their seats on the council.

Despite this entire ordeal centering around the use of gender pronouns, all the articles this author came across called Tiesa a councilwoman and used she/her pronouns throughout their article. The exceptions being, Kacey Ann Morrison’s Facebook page, The local right wing rag The Daily World, Andy Ngo, and of course Stormfront. The first three also deadnamed Tiesa in their comments.

The local so-called news outlets were some of the last new outlets on the planet to pick this story up. Once they did their reporting was slanted and inaccurate, they all fail to mention the key point. Namely THE REASON the protest was called off: the danger posed by the Proud Boys and militias. They failed to mention it when describing how there were less people in support of the trans community than in support of Don. As though they didn’t know, or purposely left out, the fact that things were called off for safety concerns. The Daily World actually called US organizers of this thing! Not only did we not organize this, NO ONE organized this, it was a mess, and we did what we could to reduce the negative impacts of a situation wholly outside our control. We also can not find any evidence a single outlet has been able to present to demonstrate ANYONE planning to engage in violence against Don or his business. Again, the very rights being infringed upon by these supposed free speech advocates IS the free speech of those in our town who wanted to peacefully hold space outside his shop in support of the trans members of our community so that they know they are cared about. Honestly, this level of reporting from the sports editor can’t be entirely surprising but it certainly reads more like an opinion piece than fact-based journalism. For one they never reached out to our group before making false claims about us. They never got a hold of Tiesa before MISQUOTING both King 5 and Tiesa in regards to who called for this demonstration. I suppose citations are a things of the past and one can just claim stuff to be true with no evidence and call it journalism. Ryan Sparks (@SparksOnSports), the author of all three articles, took the time to talk with Don, platformed a random Proud Boy, actually quoted Andy Ngo’s twitter as an expert on our group instead of talking to us, and went so far as to call Andy a journalist. Some would say something false ASAP rather than wait for the truth.

Daily World Articles:
Local law enforcement prepared for protests after viral video throws business owner, council member into national spotlight

The first article described the plans the police department had made,with their concerns being the militias coming in from out of town not “antifa”. Ryan mentions the police’s willingness to use chemical agents on residents. But at least Ryan manages to identify Tiesa and her position on the Council without deadnaming her this time. They drop the good old, “We would hate to see something bad happen to the protesters” Maybe another familiar vehicular homicide? Despite the fact that they allow fascists to invade and terrorize local residents into not acting they even claimed to care about our rights to “gather and make sure they are spoken and heard” and “We just want people to be safe and respect each other’s rights and stay out of the roadways. We don’t want anybody to get struck by vehicles.” Oof respect each others rights? Whose rights were protected that day? He also says,

According to a KING5 report, Meskis said “her supporters plan on demonstrating in front of the store Saturday, Aug. 7, at 10 a.m.”

Which is strange since again, this was not planned by Tiesa and she herself has stated that King 5 asked her about the protest, she did not bring it up. So clearly King 5 had already heard about it elsewhere as it was still very local at that time.  The King 5 article has since been edited to say the STILL INCORRECT statement, “Meskis had planned to have her supporters rally outside the store…” Which is NOT TRUE. So why, if King 5 had seen this grassroots call for action on a local Aberdeen residents Facebook page, and were the ones to bring the subject up in their interview with Tiesa, would they then claim that Tiesa had planned anything?

Protest garners large show of support for local Star Wars Store

The second article is where Ryan writes the puff piece for Don that frames their anti-trans counter protest as a success somehow because they scared the people of Aberdeen into not showing up for a fight with the right wing’s new brown-shirts for fear of injury. He also literally just claims without any evidence that “While demonstrations organized by the group Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network — an organization billing itself as a “grassroots disaster relief network” but has been described by journalist Andy Ngô as an Antifa group — were cancelled late Friday, plenty of supporters of the Star Wars shop showed up Saturday morning.” JOURNALIST! Sheesh, that’s a stretch, it is very telling to see this report in our local paper quoting Andy Ngo as some sort of Antifa expert. This is Neo- fascist propaganda you would expect from explicit alt-right “commentators” and those who hold sway in their “influencer” culture. Ryan Sparks couldn’t dig past the about section of our Facebook page to our contact info or to our website where we go into detail about our group. Instead he felt it proper to rely on someone who hasn’t heard of our group until that day and probably already forgot about us.

Star Wars Shop owner Don Sucher gains worldwide notoriety, for better or worse

The third article changes it’s tone. This one begins to frame Don as a innocent and frightened old man on the verge of loosing his business. This is also the one where Ryan goes out of his way to deadname Tiesa. A dick move on top of a shit sundae of coverage. As of Monday morning he still hadn’t gotten a hold of Tiesa to get her side of the story. He quotes Don as saying there were 400 people outside his place at 9:30 AM which is laughable considering all the documentation that took place, including a photographer from the Daily World. But Ryan lets this go unchallenged. Ryan’s new role as main field reporter seems to have gone to his head as his writing, while clearly attempting to be flowery and poignant, falls flat into the territory of petty and snarky. This article also brings up the phone line in Don’s shop. As previously mentioned we got word from a comrade in Atlanta that Don had set up a service that subscribed all incoming callers to a group text for planning his counter protest. Obviously this was a mistake since this anonymous person had subscribed and sent us some screenshots from the subscribers list. This person was also able to spam Don’s group text so much that it was soon shut down. We also mentioned that Don’s son Koby also started a GoFundMe for some reason, this was also soon shut down by those acting in solidarity with the trans people in this town from all across the country. Koby Jordan Sucher, the son @kobyJ1984 on twitter and @westxword on IG, himself is apparently a character possibly deserving of his own article in the future. We have received so many stories full of independent corroboration of many different accusations from back alley heroin sales to sexual abuse, inappropriate behavior around children, and even a long term romance with a SOAPist familiar to this group. We have chosen to cover these in their own article centering on Don’s long history of being a shitstain. The abuse survivor who bravely shared her story of abuse at the hands of Don for years also managed his Facebook page right up until it was deactivated just a couple days after the videos came out.

Many have been getting a hold of our group with suggestions for action items to be taken, and with the desire to plan a follow up event. We will say this, Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network will never call for participation in an event that we ourselves did not have a hand in actually organizing and planning – for safety purposes. As a collective that celebrates autonomy we realize that people will do what they want and think is best. Those with an agenda of blaming every piece of poop on the sidewalk, and every sticker slapped on a window in this town on us will continue to do so. they have no incentive to examine the nuanced and complex structures of horizontal organizing that allows for individual autonomy within collective action. The actions this collective takes is solely what is featured on our public page, our structure and goals are clearly defined and sketched out on our website for anyone to view. Our collective treats the threats of climate change, rising authoritarianism, and capitalism as a struggle to be taken seriously both in our real life actions as well as in digital spaces. We recommend other local activists do the same, these fascist have shown how well funded they are and how quickly they can respond to a few people in a small town calling for holding signs on a corner. This behavior will not stop and yet we must be able to organize still, this requires another level of security practices. Be aware that when you call for an action publicly it might balloon into something like this, through no fault of your own. CRMAN does not conduct organizing on any social media for this very reason. We protect our faces and IP addresses because the threat is VERY real. We hope this does not cause more people to pull inward and detach from political action altogether but will instead be a learning experience and help us grow into a community able to defend itself against these fascist actions in the future. We are always looking for people to get involved in any capacity they can in this movement, reach out to us.

Lessons Learned

So what is to be taken away from this weekend? Can we learn anything to aid us in a future scenario like this?

  • We learned that Tiesa Meskis is one rock solid individual capable of tremendous strength in a difficult time.
  • We learned the negative role that Major media coverage can have when pertaining to sharing actual organizing plans and not just coverage of the topic at hand.
  • We learned the benefit of not telling unfriendlies your plans ahead of time.
  • We learned that there is likely someone local to us who has an account on Stormfront or a close connection to someone who does.
  • We learned that it is VERY easy to make these unfriendlies show up in a place and expend resources preparing for a non-existent threat.
  • We learned that we could likely cost the Proud Boys lots of time and energy while expending little ourselves.
  • We learned that we need lots more people with street medic training and self/community defense training. We also need people with those skills to step up and share them for free.
  • We learned that Andy Ngo sees Antifa behind him in the mirror, in his shadow, under every rock.
  • We learned that the Daily World is waaaaay red pilled.
  • We saw Kacey Ann Morrsion take her mask off and own up to her fascist tendencies for once.
  • The unfathomable hypocrisy of the right was reinforced yet again.
  • We learned that the threat of fascism is real, its here, and we need to organize collectively in order to be able to kick hate of our town. Keeping ourselves safe so people are no longer afraid to speak or show up to an innocent protest or community meal.
  • We learned a lot of crazy shitty stuff about this Don guy that will make its own article to come soon.

We learned that we could not have gotten through this without each other, the support of our small collective, our volunteers, the wider community’s understanding of the difficult decisions that were made along the way. We always knew that We Take Care Of Us but we have come through this smarter, more compassionate, closer to each other, and better prepared than ever. Prepared to continue the struggle as it is presented to us. This group has never and will never initiate calls for a protest, but we will always show up for marginalized communities. Despite the definite feeling that most people local and abroad expected us to show up with Molotov cocktails in hand or something, our priority has always been and remains safety. That is the best role for this group, a supportive role, a healing role, an educational space, a method by which to form affinities that can go onto inspire actions while keeping us safe together. Although this threat is an old one, our struggle against it just as old.

UPDATES

We have started receiving messages since the publication of this article about more places of interest that this story showed up in the right wing ecosystem. We will share what we get here.

Update #1

From Joseph A. Camp on Gab, another Neo-nazi social media haven like if Stormfront got together with twitter and had a baby. He can be seem spinning up that outrage machine here with false claims that ANYONE was planning on burning Don’s shop to the ground or even MURDERING someone. I guess his audience accepts uncritically the notion that some random person from Colorado uncovered PUBLIC plans made by a councilmember to commit murder and is earnestly sharing it on Gab.

Categories
General Reports

Get Clean Or Die, it’s time for the Harbor to gentrify.

Soap is at it again. They have been feeding their buddy Jill Warne unfounded rumors about the big scary exchange that helps keep poor people safe. In this article we will hear what Jill has to say to the City of Aberdeen about what she’s been hearing and debunk every single point she tried to have.

Grays Harbor Commissioner Jill Warne’s comments to be read at the city council meeting 7/14/21.  We present it here in this shitty format because it’s such a shitty letter:
Hello Aberdeen Mayor & City Council! 

In case you aren't aware, I'm attaching some concerning photos that have been 
sent to me. WBH Pictures. The first page is from recently on 2 different days
 of the FREE BEER in front of the syringe handout in Aberdeen.  
The second page photos are of the back of an SUV that came into 
the WBH Syringe program and picked up 7,500 syringes a month or 
so ago and another very large stack of syringes being delivered 
to another vehicle.  The third page has photos of the amount of 
dirty needles one of our concerned citizens picks up on a weekly
 basis.  There is no requirement by WBH to bring in dirty needles 
to get clean ones! 

I will not call it an "exchange" because that is a complete 
misrepresentation.  I get the argument that the Syringe program 
is supposed to be "harm reduction" but I fail to see how this is
 doing anything but encouraging bad behavior, enabling the addict 
and supplementing the illegal drug industry.  There is only one
 reason I can think of that someone would pick up that many free
 syringes and that is that they are providing them, probably in 
trade for drugs, to their dealers who are using the "free" syringes 
that taxpayers pay for and pre-loading them with their illegal drugs
 and selling the syringes ready to inject!  We are supporting the drug industry! 
 Currently the dirty needles have no street value because they don't need them 
to get clean needles.  I will continue to push for this activity to be brought 
in-line with a one-for-one exchange.  It's very frustrating that we are just 
letting this harmful practice continue. 

When Salina Mecham from Willapa Behavioral Health spoke to the Commissioners 
about running the program, she indicated that they would be trying to limit the number of syringes
 handed out and they would be doing dirty needle litter patrol, etc.  I don't believe that has 
happened at all!  There was also discussion about requiring the syringes being handed out to be 
labeled by them so they could not disown them when confronted, that has not happened.  Another 
thing that seems just wrong is the location.  Having a needle hand out in the parking lot of a 
Treatment facility for addicts that are trying to get clean is like setting up an ice cream stand 
in the parking lot of Weight Watchers!  Add the "Free Beer" to that equation and it's another jab to 
the addict that is legitimately trying to get their life back.  Our Focus should be on actually helping 
the addicts get clean, offering them treatment options and encouraging them to try to do better, not pushing the
 harmful addiction lifestyle.  Ultimately there are only two options for the addict... GET CLEAN OR DIE!  Let's 
focus on the GET CLEAN!  I'm asking that the City of Aberdeen consider adopting an Ordinance that prohibits the 
mass amounts of syringes that are handed out by limiting them to something reasonable.  At this point any 
restriction would be better than what they are doing currently.  Ideally I believe it should be one for one 
but I will concede there may need to be a small amount of extra allowed, but not extreme amounts that are 
currently being pushed out there.  Limiting the amount of syringes and requiring them to be labeled I believe
 would have a huge impact on keeping our parks, streets, sidewalks & pathways safe from dirty needles.  I know 
that WBH's location doesn't have to be fixed so I would propose to enact a County Ordinance as well so that we 
don't have to worry about them just moving outside of the City jurisdiction to avoid the Ordinance.   Thank you 
for reading this and I look forward to working together to find a way to fix this huge problem in Aberdeen and 
our County.  Respectfully, Jill Warne Grays Harbor County Commissioner, District 1 Office 360.249.3731 
Mobile 360.300.7082 jwarne@co.grays-harbor.wa.us

A Simple Rebuttal:

The claim that WBH doesn’t require a one to one exchange of dirty needles for clean needles is false. This would be apparent to anyone who had actually attended it and talked to WBH staff about the process and seen it in action. The disturbing part is that both concerns she brings up have the same answer. Let’s examine these supposed problems individually in more detail:

Why would people pickup that many clean syringes?

It is because people have been harassed and intimidated by her supporters at every exchange. From shouting Shame! and other hurtful things at people, to open carrying pistols, to forcing people to walk past their protests to attend. This has led to a sharp reduction in overall use of the exchange as well as to the generous folks picking up dirties from multiple people, which is allowed by the program, and returning with clean needles, thus reducing the number of individuals exposed to the cruelty of Save Our Aberdeen Please.

Why is this exchange located in the parking lot of an addiction treatment center?

Again it is because of constant SOAP harassment in previous years leading to the treatment center being the only place willing to host the exchange. Not to mention that harm reduction and treatment services are often paired together.

So we can see that both these problems are manufactured by Jill Warne and her supporters and a substantial part of the community of Aberdeen are aware of their agenda and do not wish to see in enacted. Perhaps, instead of making wild assumptions based on the biased reports of her supporters she should come to the exchange herself and see how it works. She could also speak to her partner Kevin Pine, who actually attended the exchange and AGREED that it was one to one. Maybe she could simply consult the most recent science that is clear on the effectiveness of harm reduction services. If they ever had any actual alternatives to propose that would fall in line with their constant insistence that they care about addicts then it might be worth a listen. When someone utters the ultimatum of “GET CLEAN or DIE” it makes it hard to see how that can be true.

Someone mentioned “FREE BEER”?

As mentioned in Jill’s letter one local community member has been bringing sandwiches and drinks for free, in support of the needle exchange and in opposition to the SOAP clowns across the street. Recently SOAP, who have famously complained about WBH “wasting people’s time” by calling the police on them multiple times, called the STATE about this “FREE BEER” situation. In an excellent use of taxpayer dollars a real life representative from the State’s Liquor and Cannabis Board came down to hand deliver this letter to this wonderful community member.

Apparently no one in this chain of intellect decided to actually READ the text of the RCW which states clearly that,

“Sale” and “sell” shall not include the giving, at no charge, of a reasonable amount of liquor by a person not licensed by the board to a person not licensed by the board, for personal use only.

So it would appear as thought this clever and generous community member is NOT breaking any laws. It did certainly do the job of ruffling the feathers of the NIMBY SOAP crowd who are so fast to clutch their pearls. This boils down to more harassment from this hate group towards anyone willing to embrace science, practice empathy, or give a shit about their local community. Its these small gestures of support that we love to see! #WeLoveDrugUsers

Oh, The Needles!

Grab those pearls, take a seat, pull up your fainting couch, prepare to gasp. Drug users need needles.

You might not like to hear it but the science is clear that needle exchange work to both combat disease and reduce use. Check this fact sheet out from the CDC. Here is just a sample of the benefits both in human life and tax money saved. On a local level, in a recent city council meeting Councilmember Francy, who does regular clean ups of the water ways and areas around town, reported finding less than 20 syringes in his most recent clean up. This, plus all the children playing daily in the various parks around town, leads this author to ask the obvious question, “Where TF is SOAP finding all these needles?”. The ONLY thing this group ever says is what about our kids? our kids cant play in the parks. Yet, a simple drive around this town would say otherwise. Really, take a drive around town and see for yourself if there are kids playing in parks again.

Its also not at all shocking to know for a fact that this hate group TARGETS the unhoused and their encampments exclusively, reporting them to their rabid base as well as the city. Yet, another drive around this town will demonstrate all the places nowhere near a homeless encampment that are filled with trash SOAP doesnt seem to care about. Anyone can take a photo of a stack of needles you’ve collected and claim foul but there is ZERO actual evidence. But when your buddies are in positions of power, you don’t need anything but rumors.

Here’s the Plan

So the agenda is clear, use your hate group to rally the base and get Pete Schave elected Mayor of Aberdeen. Use him to help close TASL as soon as possible, without any alternative, as was once promised. Then get Jill Warne and Kevin Pine elected commissioners to both end the county’s needle exchange and prevent a shelter from opening. Then Kacey Ann Morrison, Debi Ann Pieraccinni, Melvin Taylor, Antara Croft, and David Lawrence all run for City Council to stack the council for the Christian Neo-Fascist right. That way you can advance your agenda of cleansing Aberdeen of the dirty and poor to make way for tourist centers, and corporate retreats, Tesla charging stations, etc. This crowd is even oppose the new Quinault Treatment Center which is supposedly the one thing they advocate for…TREATMENT. If it didn’t serve their agenda to complain about the exchange setting up in the parking lot of GH Treatment Solutions then they would likely be opposed to it as well.

With big plans for “their Aberdeen”, and eyes set on gentrification both in Aberdeen and Hoquiam – such as a 7 million dollars for a visitor center that no one needs, 30,000 for hanging baskets of flowers, ‘Welcome to Aberdeen’ signage that would make Kurt Cobain roll over in his grave as people are told to “Come as You Are” (see above for irony), and whatever “revitalization” projects Hoquiam is planning, it is plain to see that the focus of those in positions of power are, as always, profits over people, economic development at the sake of local residents. Having seen the first hand effects of gentrification before this author can attest to the fact that if the people currently living here think they will be the ones enjoying all the nice, new, expensive condos and bars, they are likely mistaken.

In the same meeting, a few days before the closure of TASL, the Council discussed NOT having the budget to keep this camp going AND funding this galling 7 million dollar money pit for what is sure to be a future abandoned and dilapidated building that no one will be able to enter safely in a decade or two. Priorities on lock, the council spent a serious amount of time and thought on this proposal but, if the good-hearted members of the council hadn’t opted to bring up TASL at the very end of the meeting in their comments, it would have not even been discussed!

This IS the plan, you can’t talk about gentrification without talking about cleansing the homeless. You can’t build housing when you need to build more jails.You can’t talk about serving the needs of wealthy, beach-house  Tesla owners unless you ignore the needs of the poor, starving families in your town. How can people in the owner class, since they own businesses and property, claim to be working class? Do we even need leaders anymore?

The rabble must be cleared to make way for their ‘new dawn’. The “Reclaiming of their Prosperity”. We need massive investment in tourism, not the needs of local residents. We at Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network think that people should be placed over profits. Over property. We think it is reprehensible to simultaneously not consider the very real and urgent problem of housing and instead focus time and money into so called economic development to further cater to and benefit the rich over the poor. Building jails and condos instead of housing. But we know it is a naive view that would call this a failure of leadership, this is not flaw, it is a feature. Don’t worry about what these jokers in their stuffy meetings decide, we can get through this by coming together to act collectively, in solidarity with each other, we are all we need.

In Loving Solidarity.

 

Categories
General Pressure Campaigns Reports

“Where Do We Go Pete?”

On the back of our most recent successful petition we put this together in conjunction with the local homeless community to demand that the City of Aberdeen meet and talk potential TASL alternatives with those living on the streets.

SIGN HERE 👉 https://linktr.ee/crmutualaidnet👈

❤️If you’ve ever shared anything we’ve done or if we have done anything to inspire you towards action then we need you now more than ever.

👀Please sign and follow us over the next few days to learn more about how you can get involved DIRECTLY in support of this community. TASL closes this Friday the 16th at noon.


To the City of Aberdeen:

Meet and discuss TASL alternatives with the homeless it affects.

The closure of the temporary alternative shelter location, or TASL, will leave the residents there out in the streets once more.

When the City destroyed the river city camp years ago they said they were going to have TASL for 30 days while they found a alternative location for a permanent camp. Many of the residents of that camp have dispersed throughout the streets. Some were sheltered at TASL, although due to City policies, the population has dwindled as of late. The permanent camp never materialized, and now they are taking away TASL.

All of these people need somewhere to go and some members of the community have asked to sit down and discuss possible resolutions to this problem.

Tell the City of Aberdeen that they need to meet and talk with the members of this community and hear their thoughts and plans and try to come to an agreement that suits everyone and gives people a place to legally exist.

The following letter was written by members of the homeless community and submitted to the city earlier this week:

 

“Dear Council,

My name is Pa***** Ca***. I am a voting, tax paying, and proud citizen of Aberdeen. I also happen to be homeless and a resident of the soon to be closed TASL site. I understand that there is a lot of strong opinions from multiple viewpoints concerning the issue of Aberdeen’s homeless population and what steps to take moving forward. It seems to me that people on both sides of this issue have gotten into an “Us versus Them” mindset, when in actuality the goal for both sides is the same…. A better life for all the citizens of Aberdeen. I am hopeful that you and other members of the City Council would be open to a sit down discussion about possible solutions. Just a group of people sitting down and having a rational and constructive discussion about what can be done to get us closer to the goal of a better Aberdeen for everyone. If we can put our heads together, I believe there is a good chance for progress. I thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely, P.C.”

For more reporting on TASL check out our blog at https://chehalisrivermutualaid.noblogs.org/category/reports/

Categories
General Reports

TASL Under Fire


This article is not intended to cover a deep history of the Temporary Alternative Shelter Location (TASL). That has been covered extensively by The Daily World here, and here. What I hope to cover here are the conditions of the camp (since its not a shelter) leading up the recent fire that occurred there. I aim to show how desperate the need for heating was this winter, and how the abhorrent neglect the city has demonstrated has left the people living at TASL exposed to inclement weather as well as dangerous conditions culminating in, and exemplified by, the fire.

In March of 2020 the City decided to close TASL and the COVID-19 eviction moratorium prevented them from immediately throwing all those people back onto the streets. They did not do this out of a concern for their well-being but at the threat of a lawsuit from the attorney general.

Since then they have been setting policies and doing whatever they can to kick people out and reduce the population living there as much as possible. They have also stopped accepting applications to get a tent there, so whoever was there at that time is all they’re letting in. This is a clear move to effectively close the shelter while not facing any legal consequences.

They are also prohibited from evicting people from TASL because they are incapable of providing alternative shelters. So you can see that the same people pushing to close TASL are also working against that end by pushing to hold up the shelter. They don’t want a camp cause its not a shelter, they dont want a shelter cause its not housing, they dont want housing cause of the money. What do they want?

It is necessary to say that the TASL was only meant to be temporary with an original timeline of 30 days. We can see below from the Daily World at the time that the City intended to set up a long term location to camp at, they even bought the very property that people had set up at by the river. None of this has happened.

The Daily World

Since the inception of this project the City of Aberdeen has neglected the camp. Despite showing up at $100 per month in the TASL budget, they have not offered laundry service for anything beyond the first few weeks. There has never been a safe and adequate way for residents to heat themselves. Still, if you ignore the $18,600 per month (which we absolutely will not be ignoring) to police the small camp, its a quite reasonable monthly expense for the City. Unfortunately, the promises made to the people they tore out of the riverside community they had built up organically were never kept. This is not at all shocking as we know by now that the state doesn’t function to take care of people, it serves the rich at the expense of the poor.

Oh Donna…Does anyone really think that building actual permanent housing would be cheaper than this? Especially when 90% just goes to the security firm? What do we call it when you “make people work” or face threat of violence? Is there a word for that? How would that work exactly?

This poor management, neglect, and lack of services led to a few health and safety issues at the camp in the months preceding the fire. After almost two years of being exposed to the elements every tent frame has broken, and although the canvases are largely fine this leaves the occupant of the tent responsible for figuring out some temporary solution to the problem. Many tents do leak, requiring tarps to be used over the tents. The tents, when working perfectly fine, were never meant for long term habitation and are constantly having to be vented because of all the condensation. This condensation, plus the extremely wet weather we have here, has lead to black mold forming on the pallets below the sleeping area of the tents. The worst tent was completely cleaned and bedding changed out by the community there but to replace and clean the entire camp is beyond what they are capable of.

Speaking of wet weather, we cannot talk about the experiences of those living outside without discussing winter. This winter in particular was especially brutal, the weather was cold, and COVID-19 added additional hardships and limitations for the resident of TASL. The winters we get out here may not be the Siberian Tundra but temperatures regularly reach literally life-threatening levels. People living at TASL have not been allowed to have any safe and reliable way to heat themselves. This makes TASL one of the most dangerous places an unhoused person can live, elsewhere they might at least be able to warm themselves and avoid fascist harassment. So, faced with the proposition offered by the City of just freezing to death, people resisted by surviving and using what resources they had to provide each other heat throughout the winter. Without proper infrastructure in place less safe methods of heating were employed in order to not die. Even so, at least one resident suffered from frostbite this winter.

***To be very clear, the cause of the fire is still unknown. As of the publishing of this article no results have been offered from the investigation conducted by the fire department. This author does not assume that the residents or their methods of survival contributed to the fire in any way. That said, the right wing response has been largely reactionary and to heap all blame on those with very little power in the arrangement between them and the City. So this article will address those rumors while trying to remember that no cause has yet been determined.***

So, from the ground up, we have moldy pallets, broken tent frames, leaking tents, dangerous living and heating conditions, deadly cold temperatures, on top of months of poor planning, management, a lack of services, and neglect by the City. This is the situation going into April when just before 7AM on Thursday April 1st, a fire broke out at TASL from an unknown cause.

Thankfully, the fire only destroyed one tent, but the resident inside lost everything he had, including his saxophone, which was how we made money. The hate came hard and fast with many in the comments on social media saying such horrible things that the local police scanner Facebook page had to put a warning to be respectful or be banned on their thread. A sight not seen on any of their other fire notifications of local structure fires.

People immediately jumped to blaming the residents for the fire, wishing harm on them, and actively cheering the fire. Unsurprisingly, local hate group SOAP, was in top form in their comments section as well. The fascists loved seeing the tents on fire, perhaps hoping that the solution to their problems had been come at last. Too scared behind their keyboard to set the fire themselves (probably), they took great pleasure at watching what had likely played out many times in their heads occur in real life.

Many of this ilk started placing the blame on the heating methods employed by the residents of the camp. Whether propane tanks, or various extension cords, they took to social media to spread false rumors. None of them seemed to question why the resident of TASL were using such undesirable methods of heating as they were. Because if they had they would realize that people cannot be forced to freeze to death by their government (these are small govt people right??). People have the right to exist and to take action to survive. When the City didn’t provide a safe and adequate way of heating the residents of the camp throughout winter they set up the conditions for this fire, and consider how much deadlier it could have ultimately been.

Following the fire the city moved in with cleaning crews and further traumatized the residents by throwing away many people’s belongings, evicting one resident, and removing the tents from a few of the residents. The person who lost their belongings to the fire was so traumatized they decided on their own volition to leave the camp. The City did actually replace the one single tent that was damaged. Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network mobilized a campaign to pressure the City to replace every tent and the platforms beneath them to no avail.

Let’s take a closer look at that TASL budget now. As we do try to see if there is any one expense that jumps out at you. Maybe there is one expense that is just a tad larger than the others? One that ostensibly is meant to provide “security” to those residing at TASL? Euphemisms aside, the City has been spending a full 90% of the monthly TASL budget simply to police the residents inside. But what security has been provided? Do you think those living there feel secure? When they can’t safely heat themselves, or even cook a hot meal? When they have members of hate groups roaming freely through the camp snapping photos for a campaign of dehumanization? What else would one expect a security guard to do at a tent city other than keep people intent on doing harm to the residents out? Maybe we should ask “whose security?”.

We see here a call back to the running theme of 2020: a falling of the scales from our eyes. An awakening to the fact that those marketed as providing safety and security are actually there for protection of private property and the comfort of the rich. Why is the City paying so much money to staff the security shed while allowing the residents to live in dangerous conditions that ultimately resulted in a fire? So many questions that will never get an answer, because no one is accountable. Can you imagine a public official genuinely answering your question? Hopefully we know by now that we are all we’ve got, and luckily we are all we need. We don’t need police, or politicians anymore. One hopes that they can find a way to fit into the new society we are creating without causing too much harm along the way, but history doesn’t inspire much confidence.

We Keep Us Safe, CRMAN


Categories
General Reports

Denied Shelter


Coming in to the winter of 2020 Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network started serving meals in Zelasko Park and began to form relationships with many of the people experiencing homelessness in our town. We learned how inadequate the services offered were in reality and not on paper. We learned that the shelters in town treated people like children, placing restrictions on people heavy enough that many decided to avoid them altogether. We learned the ins and outs of the cold weather shelter and TASL. One need has shown itself time and time again, and that is the need for a real shelter location.

For more background on this issue read our past coverage of the shelter proposed by Chaplains on the Harbor. Grays Harbor commissioners have been holding this project up ever since it came up for approval. Their most recent meeting on Tuesday April 20 involved no action on the part of two of the commissioners. This author was not in attendance, but one member of Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network did attend and gave this report back:

Grays Harbor Commissioners met on Tuesday 4/20 and on the agenda to discuss was the Chaplains on the Harbor bid for a 44 bed Shelter for Aberdeen. However, commissioners Jill Warren and Kevin Pine through their non action, created NO progress for our community members sleeping on the streets. Instead Kevin shared that “Shelters don’t work.” Which is really confusing because the urgent need & solution is pretty simple. Humans sleeping on concrete. A shelter takes them up off the ground & gives them safety. Kevin, how does that “not work”? Leaving OUR people on the streets is a better option? Jill? Seriously… 44 beds that’s it. That would cover a very small amount of what is actually needed yet silence is what you had to give us all?

One commissioner showed up & spoke up on behalf of PUBLIC SAFETY & THE PEOPLE which was appreciated by many. A statement was read into the public record signed by 124 of “Aberdeen’s finest”. It wasn’t a surprise that none of their concerns were the health, safety or well-being of the population dying on our streets but instead they were focused on money and retaliation. It’s also not a surprise that their narrative fits Jill’s and Kevin’s. You know Jim Walsh, Jill, Kevin, same thing. When the City & it’s citizens support something fully, a qualified organization meets the requirements to handle it, the state hands over 1.1 Million dollars to fund it and still these two took no action. That’s not only reckless and inhumane, it shows as clear as day the people they are serving and it sure as shit is not the population of Grays Harbor.

When we have people with this control putting politics above whether people live or die, it’s a huge issue, a life and death issue. We can’t be quiet about the inhumane treatment of our neighbors. This is our home, all of us together. When someone is hungry, you add another seat at the table. You don’t kick them while they are starving and make them watch you eat.

This inaction on the part of the commissioners raises quite a few new hurdles for the project going forward. One hurdle is clearly funding, those behind the proposed shelter will undoubtedly start looking at legal recourse as well as alternative funding options and will update us as news comes in. Our group is far more limited in its funding options, but the city does own many plots of vacant or otherwise unproductive land, including the original river side property. A second hurdle is the rising threat of far right fascists and their escalating threatening and harassment of the unhoused and their advocates. A third hurdle is the contingent that has arisen in opposition to the unhoused population. These people are on an escalating trajectory of violence, including documenting and publicizing known camp locations, drive by harassment of unhoused people, threats and harassment of folks at the needle exchange, and now formations of a “neighborhood watch”. 124 of them signed onto a letter to be read into the record at the meeting as follows with notes by this author in red.

Dear Commissioners Pine, Raines, and Warne,

With respect to the amount of money being requested (no one is requesting any money, the county requested a proposal and just happened to receive these funds earmarked for this very purpose) and/or allocated for the homeless issue and associated shelter and housing projects, we, the undersigned, do hereby respectfully request that a financial audit be performed between CCAP, Grays Harbor County Public Health and the Housing Program, as well as any other relevant parties and recipients of grant funds. (CCAP has nothing to do with this project and they don’t even mention Chaplains on the Harbor)

We ask that the following inquiries be addressed:

Which individuals and/or entities are making the decision on what grants to apply for (the funding for this comes from the federal CARES Act, through WA state Dept of Commerce, and approved by the county, this is what this money is for) and what are the qualifications for and the process of selecting which individuals and groups are “housing stakeholders”? (this is two different questions) (housing stakeholders refers to individuals experiencing homelessness, housing providers, landlords, local government, law enforcement, faith communities, schools, behavioral health, and social service providers. anyone who has a stake in the housing needs of the area)

What process and/or guidelines are in place to prevent conflicts of interest between “housing stakeholders”, public housing entities, county leadership, and grant recipients? (for a detailed look at the processes that go on when planning projects like this check out this easily Googleable document from the county)

Who decides contractor qualifications for grant funding recipients? (these are long standing processes that State representatives and Senators should probably be aware of)

Is it appropriate for Grays Harbor County leadership to enter into ANY agreement with any kind of entity that has a history of suing parties involved? (why on earth would that matter? This is an organization that has been advocating for these issues for a long time and that often includes suing governments who don’t care about their residents)

What is the oversight and reporting process on how money is to be, and ultimately, how it is spent and by whom? (this is all likely to be determined at the next step in the process being held up by the commission, the actual contract, budgeting, staffing, etc.)

We appreciate your prompt response on this matter.

(these folks seem to think this is the wild west where no laws apply, no records will be kept, and the nightmarish bureaucracy of paperwork, documentation, and data collection typical of government won’t apply…eye roll forever)

Al Smith

Ginny Larson

State Senator Jeff Wilson

Kacey Ann Morrison Randall Ainsworth

State Representative Jim Walsh

Zach Morrison Wayne Storlie Roger Nedrow

Patty Thomas Bonnie Lynn Fleck Tom Little

Debi Pieraccini Debbie Hodgkin Robbin Emery-Welcome

Carol Tuhkanen Robert LaCount Wiley Welcome

Steve Heywood Becky Rider James Appling

The Warren Family Randy Gibson Randy Paling

Bryan Gullickson Daniel Rider Jr. Daniel McBride

Joann Burns Theodore Peckler Denise Baumgardner

Jen Boone Dawn Peckler Kyle Dahlstrom

Chris Yeager Brad Eilers Bruno Pieraccini

Traci Johnson Cricket Ruiz Eric W. Young Sr.

Alicia Healy Kristi Howard Cynde Roberts

Aleta Fuhrer Kristine Lowder Jamie MacKinnon Walsh

Sheryl Sjogren Chris Lowder Don Sucher

Laurie Bremer Patrick Linares Steve Kerley

Rodney Bremer Mel Bennett Gregg Peterson

Ember Raney Teresa Obino Thomas Clark

Steven Smith Jr. Barbara Morrison Dawn Ann Gafford

Cindy Wakefield Vicki Humbyrd Gina Foshaug-Goodman

Holly Shuck Michelle McFeely Mark McFeely

Karen Stutesman Sheldon Swope Angela Cunningham

Donna Wright Susan McDaniel Katy Albrecht

Patrick McDaniel DeElaina Moore Rashelle Gallegos

Clayton Peterson Mark Irwin Sharon Nylander

Rob Hoefer Diana Hoefer Larry Cowles

Erin Knutson Troy Green Heidi Lopez

Brenda House Nikki Gaddis Wes Johnson II

Judy Parfitt Gary Parfitt Cindy Vessey

Douglas Pierce William Clark Dorothy Gerchak

Paul Barrow Harvey Engler Tracy Sannes

Chris Smith Lisa Donohoe Randy Donohoe

Jan Walberg Adam Hoxit Mark Maynard

Amy Clark Tim Eaton Pete Kearney

Terry Kost Elaine Lutz Cecile Shillinger

Paul Mirante Jeanne Everett Melody Fletcher

Betty Lathers Christy King Candy Cozzutto

Nancy Barnett Gary Barnett Neil King

Clarence French Matti Tuhkanen DBA King Built Homes LLC

Beth Judd Daniel Wareham Lorrie Pierce

Ray Gregson Dick Murchy Gerri Specker

Carolyn Barker Fred Feuerstein Henry Sherman Family

Debi Wyrick-Martin Linda Webb Barbara Darrin

Milissa Stott Brandon Stott Shane Zaborac

To be clear, this is not a project ran in any way by this network, but we do support this population of people and in turn we support this project and the general work of Rev Sarah Monroe and Chaplains on the Harbor. That said, we are an autonomous network capable of operating in spaces and ways that institutions and non-profits are not. We must be willing to use this fact to our advantage.

Now is the time to leverage our shared values of autonomous direct action and self-determination into creating a community of resistance to state and right wing violence. We cannot allow the state to simply refuse the very ability to survive from us. We can no longer rely on these institutions to bring about the world we desire, we must take this into our own hands and stop asking for permission. We will continue to work with our friends on the streets, organizing to make people more safe and secure. We must put forth a united front against the rise of fascism with all those willing to work with us to this end.

If we do not do something, and soon those experiencing homelessness in this town face increasing threats and harassment at the hands of the police, as well as non-state fascists, and the run of the mill NIMBYs. Each section here needs the others, supports the others, and complements the others. The Karens, Kellies, and Kaceys of the world, the NIMBYs (not in my backyard) put a pretty mask on the agenda while making public appearances and excursion into faux community clean up actions. The fascists, and these two overlap quite a bit, go out and actually harass or attack the people being dehumanized by the NIMBYs. They use the information obtained by the NIMBY scouts to target this campaign of terror. The police, who have the most interactions with and knowledge of the people being targeted can provide this information to the other sections if its not widely known. This allows for more varied and consistent harassment by non state actors, filling in the gaps of what an on duty officer can’t always get away with. The police do their fair share of terrorizing though, make no mistake. Our friends outside often describe the disregard and cruelty shown to them by law enforcement.

These factors and more contribute to the growing criminalization of the unhoused, the poor, the neuro-diverse, the transient, and the addicted. All groups with a long and particularly telling history of criminalization, dehumanization, and genocide. All groups that still, unlike Jewish people or LGBTQIAX+ people, are able to be fully dehumanized without such a person being called an out and out bigot. Groups that don’t enjoy the status of a protected class or group in terms of discrimination guidelines either.

The case of Martin v. City of Boise found that the City of Boise’s enforcement of ordinances prohibiting camping, sleeping, or lying in public violated the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment if an individual does not have a meaningful alternative (such as space in a shelter or a legal place to camp). We discussed in our previous article on SOAP’s incursions into people’s private homes, that the courts have rules that even if your home is a tent, you still enjoy the same rights to privacy anyone else does.

Sources:

https://mrsc.org/Home/Stay-Informed/MRSC-Insight/June-2019/Homelessness-and-the-Limits-of-Enforcement.aspx

https://nlchp.org//wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Housing-Not-Handcuffs.pdf

https://www.aclu-wa.org/homelessness

https://www.aclu-wa.org/story/washington-court-rules-even-if-your-home-tent-you-have-right-privacy-inside-it

https://www.aclu-wa.org/news/aclu-wa-asks-court-halt-seattle%E2%80%99s-illegal-seizure-and-destruction-unhoused-peoples-property

https://www.aclu-wa.org/docs/letter-municipalities-regarding-recent-developments-questioning-constitutionality-many

2005 10-year Plan to End Homelessness

2010 Update

 

Categories
General Reports

SOAP Scum


Our friends at Save Our Aberdeen Please will be returning to the steps of Aberdeen City Hall on Sunday April 25th at 1PM for another round of their exploitation and misery porn. On top of continuing to stage these so called clean up events they have begun to display a few new tactics. Apparently, they have found some folks’ camps and invaded them. Taking incredibly exploitative and potentially illegal photos of people in their homes. Yes, you heard that right, these fucking people are going around snooping on people as they lay in their tents! What would you do if these women were at your house snapping photos of your messes? Opening your house up, without your consent, to be judged and analyzed by assholes online whose houses probably aren’t much cleaner.

Looking over recent posts on their Facebook page shows that they are doing far more than simply cleaning up trash around town. They never seem to clean up trash anywhere that isn’t also an encampment. Is this because there is no trash on the side of the roads? No, just the other day this author saw a street sweeper in town and I wondered to myself if Kacey Ann Morrison was getting all hot and bothered by the fact she has to pay for the city to clean up the garbage left by all these drivers. But of course she doesn’t care about that, she has a different agenda.

Besides it being disgusting to invade peoples personal space like that, (and documenting your struggles for personal gain and followers) it is also actually dangerous. They probably think they are being clever by framing this as more cleanup excursions, we can plainly see what the point is when they are locating and then sharing the locations of current encampments. Sometimes the safest thing for the individual unhoused person is to be out of sight. Daily harassment is real and by avoiding high traffic areas they can reduce the negative interactions with people who want to harass them. Every day the police harass and bother these people, moving them around constantly to make their lives harder. Danger from state and non-state fascists is undeniable.

Our friends on the streets have told us about constant harassment by people driving by, as well as the police and WADOT. With some drivers coming by so regularly as to be recognized. Not to mention the very real possibility a deranged right winger escalating into causing real harm. The dehumanization from this group has now been paired with the tactic of documenting known locations of vulnerable people. This puts them in great risk of facing more harassment or attacks from SOAP followers, many of whom display a range of shittiness from callous disregard for human life, to calls for real violence.

In late March, as though in response to our previous article on SOAP, a weekly blog appeared from Wes Cormier, seen here contemplating deeply the moment to moment struggle of someone living in a tent.

Local politician and COVID-19 conspiracy theory spreader Wes Cormier.

The blog seems aimed at publishing counter pieces to local issues we ourselves are covering such as the needle exchange, the low barrier shelter, and of course SOAP. On top of that he published a transphobic piece of garbage writing and conspiracy theorizing so horrible and uninformed I hesitate to share it here. But as it seems indicative of who we are dealing with here I will share just the text of what he is trying to call an article with a CONTENT WARNING – for transphobia:

A widely distributed and controversial Covid survey given to many Washington State children, grades 6 – 12, asks if they are “transgender” or their sexual orientation. The survey has parents in the Bethel School District furious according to 770KTTH.

The pictures below, captured from a student’s cell phone show some of the questions asked in the Covid Survey. Clearly the parties that provided this survey didn’t think this through. Or, perhaps a more disturbing scenario is that they did think this through. Is the state going to use the information from the survey to target youth and send counselors to children that marked a different box?

Time will tell.

Wes Cormier

Besides typing a small 7 sentence Facebook post and trying call it “news” this blog seemingly serves as the SOAP/GOP propaganda outlet. He has published a puff piece for SOAP and its “leader and activist – Kacey Morrison”, able here to capture a photograph with slightly less garbage in it than usual.

Here they tackle the fact that we referred to SOAP correctly as a hate group. Now we did not expect them to embrace the term or agree with it. But perhaps they do protest too much. Typically, groups don’t have to go around defending themselves of such charges for innocently picking up trash.

Now when Kacey “The Cornerstone” Morrison says she cares for people we don’t doubt that she loves certain people as much as anyone else, but consider what care and love she has shown the most vulnerable people in our town. Below are some examples of the types of conversations SOAP has in their comments sections all the time.

More of the same tired right wing talking points are echoed in her suggestion of solutions, none of which even approach something one could reasonably consider an actual answer to the question much less a viable solution. Someone may have a future in politics if she keeps up this sort of rhetorical evasion. She continues to dodge on the subject of the needle exchange, giving platitudes that sound stale enough to be on a motivational poster next to a cat hanging from a wire. Her solution…real help, compassion, and rehabilitation. WOW, really cracked it open on that one Kacey. If only someone had thought of it sooner.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) her group is not focused on providing any sort of aid, or “real help”, and as far as compassion I will let the reader consider the following photos, taken by Kacey after having literally invaded people’s camps to take photos of their stuff and thrown their stuff away. On multiple occasions actually taking photos INSIDE people’s tents, once even with a person and his dog still inside! So I ask you this: If you see an encampment, go up to it, throw people’s belongings out, publicize people’s precarious living situations and locations, and then leave with your misery porn in hand to post online later to gain support for enacting policies that harm those very people…is that compassion?? What at all did you provide for those people? What even is your argument? Some of the photos are too gross to share here but these just about sum it up.

people consider stealing a person’s dog while commenting on a photo of a dog resting inside a tent, with his owner directly behind him in the tent.
photographing people’s living quarters
HEY! Its Kellie Carlson Daniels thinking that the big problems of the day include things like needle prices.
People comment on the price tag of TASL, gripe that people without any housing can get laundry done for free, and suggest some sort of pogrom for unhoused people.

Having dispensed with all the vile garbage being strewn about by this propaganda outlet, lets now turn to the legal concerns posed by Kacy Ann Morrison’s invasion of people’s privacy. I’m sure she didn’t imagine that those people also had rights, as she might expect to have herself. Turns out “courts have repeatedly recognized that people without housing are protected by the same constitutional rights as everyone else” according to a letter sent to municipalities across the state by the Washington ACLU . Below is a document published by the WA ACLU in regards to the fact that it doesn’t matter what your residence looks like or is made out of, your privacy rights remain intact. Kacey may want to reconsider her actions if it could result in legal trouble for her.

*to be clear this author does not believe in the prison industrial complex as a way to deal with any problem, nor do I think that the police would possibly act to preserve the dignity of those they treat so poorly.

Washington court rules that even if your home is a tent, you have a right to privacy inside it

Amy Roe, Former ACLU-WA Senior Writer

Every person has the right to privacy in their home, regardless of whether that home is a lean-to on a roadside or a mansion on a mountain. By ruling that a homeless man camping on public land has the same right to privacy inside his tent as others have in their homes—and that police can’t enter without a warrant— the Washington Court of Appeals this month affirmed this right.

The case, State of Washington v. Pippin, involves William Pippin, who was living in a shelter he’d fashioned by draping a tarp over a fence and a guardrail in Vancouver, Washington, when he was visited one morning by police. When officers rapped on the tarp, Pippin told them he was just waking up and would come out shortly.

Instead of waiting for Pippin to emerge, officers lifted the tarp, revealing Pippin sitting up in his makeshift bed; as Pippin got out of bed, officers saw a bag containing methamphetamine. By entering Pippin’s tent without permission, police conducted an unlawful warrantless search of his home, the ACLU-WA said in friend of the court brief in the case. The State Court of Appeals agreed: Pippin’s rights were violated under Article I, section 7 of the Washington constitution, which mandates that “[n]o person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law.”

One’s home has throughout history been seen as the ultimate bulwark against government intrusion, the court said in its decision. Because a person’s home is likely to contain intimate details of their life that must not be revealed against their will, the law protects homes from warrantless searches.

But one need not occupy a traditional home to have this privacy right. Courts have also found that, for people who are homeless, closed baggage and containers are protected areas.

Pippin lived in a lean-to, but that a home is temporary does not diminish the right to privacy within it, “nor does the flimsy and vulnerable nature of an improvised structure. For the homeless, those may often be the only refuge for the private in the world as it is,” the court said.

The court rebuked the State’s assertion that Pippin’s homelessness was a choice: “To call homelessness voluntary, and thus unworthy of basic privacy protection is to walk blind among the realities around us.”

Such an argument would wrongly penalize people for being poor by stripping from them the privacy rights the law guarantees everyone else. “Our Constitution means something better,” the court said.

To illustrate what that might look like, the court quoted “King Lear,” who, in Act 3, Scene 4, has been stripped of his power and wealth, and faces a raging storm. At last Lear sees how poor and homeless people in his Kingdom suffer as they struggle to endure the elements. Remorseful for his blindness to their plight, Lear implores those in power not to follow his lead, but to instead, “Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, That thou mayst . . . show the heavens more just.”

The lessons learned by Shakespeare’s tragic hero should not be lost on us. The law exists, the court said, not only to prevent anarchy and grease the wheels of our economy, but also to “bring signs of justice amid our thirsts and furies and, in doing so, remind us of our humanity.”

Doug Klunder and Nancy Talner of the ACLU of Washington wrote the brief, which was also signed by Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, Outsiders Inn, and Real Change.

The next letter was also published by the ACLU and sent to the U.S. District Court in Seattle. It deals with the issues of throwing people’s belongings away, something Kacey has done repeatedly. The article discusses how it is unconstitutional for the government to throw your stuff away without “adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard, or a meaningful way to reclaim any property that was not immediately destroyed.” If it is illegal for a government entity to do so, then it stands to reason that Kacey would have even less authority to do so.

ACLU-WA Asks Court to Halt Seattle’s Illegal Seizure and Destruction of Unhoused Peoples’ Property

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Today the ACLU of Washington is asking the U.S. District Court in Seattle to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the City of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) from taking and throwing away property owned by people living outside. The ACLU-WA will also ask the Court to certify the lawsuit as a class action and allow the individually named Plaintiffs—Lisa Hooper, Brandie Osborne, Kayla Willis, and Reavy Washington— to represent the class.

The action comes in a class action lawsuit (Hooper v. City of Seattle) the ACLU of Washington filed in January against the City and WSDOT for violating the constitutional rights of people living outside by seizing and discarding their property without adequate notice, an opportunity to be heard, or a meaningful way to reclaim any property that was not immediately destroyed. The Episcopal Diocese and Real Change also are plaintiffs in the suit.

“In this country, the government can’t just take and destroy your personal property without at least telling you formally that it’s going to do so and giving you a meaningful opportunity to get it back,” said Breanne Schuster, ACLU-WA Staff Attorney.

Nearly two years after the Mayor declared a state of emergency on homelessness, the rates of people living outside have only increased. A 2017 count found more than 2,000 people sleeping outside in Seattle in the dead of winter, with no shelter but what that they can erect themselves in the form of materials like tarps, blankets, and tents. Not since the Great Depression have so many people been forced to live outdoors in our city. By seizing and frequently discarding items that these individuals own and that are essential to their daily living, the City and WSDOT are worsening their circumstances.

“Taking sleeping bags and tents from homeless people actually makes it less likely that they’ll be able to connect with the services they need and do the things they need to do to get into housing,” said Emily Chiang, Legal Director of the ACLU-WA. “It is profoundly destabilizing and only makes it harder for them to survive outdoors.”

If issued, the injunction would not stop the City from collecting actual garbage or waste on public property, nor would it preclude the City from offering outreach or services to unhoused individuals that address the root causes of homelessness. And it would not prevent the City from dealing with immediate health and safety concerns.

Representing the Plaintiffs are ACLU-WA cooperating attorneys Todd Williams and Eric Lindberg of Corr Cronin Micheslon Baumgardner, Fogg, and Moore LLP, and ACLU-WA staff attorneys Nancy Talner and Breanne Schuster.

So, all things considered, this group is definitely evolving beyond simple trash clean up and headed, along with the rest of the similar regional groups, towards some sort of final solution to their perceived “problem” population. Visions of forced treatment, labor camps, and open air prisons dance in their heads. We cannot wait until this group escalates their actions further, we must come together to show the community that we have their backs and that we stand with them in their attempts to be safe. Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network will continue to monitor such groups and share what we find with you, as well as the larger regional antifascist network.

Rise up. Let’s Go, CRMAN


Sources:

https://www.aclu-wa.org/homelessness

https://www.aclu-wa.org/story/washington-court-rules-even-if-your-home-tent-you-have-right-privacy-inside-it

https://www.aclu-wa.org/news/aclu-wa-asks-court-halt-seattle%E2%80%99s-illegal-seizure-and-destruction-unhoused-peoples-property

Categories
Reports

Far Right Mobilize In Aberdeen


Local anti-homeless / anti-addict hate group “Save Our Aberdeen Please” was out on the streets on Sunday, March 14 for a photo op with local right wing politicians. They have couched their exploitative actions with the language of “cleaning up” “their” city. With many in the comments making comments alluding to who they might consider to be a part of “their” town.

Here we can see the tried and true tactic of far right movements, the creation of an “in” group and an “out” group. This distinction seems to be simply user-defined, with each individual able to decide who is in and who is out of the community in question. The fact that people residing within the borders of this city might just be their neighbor, housed or not, seems to have been rejected by most here. This language is nothing new, but their tactics might be. Not that the right wing hasn’t demonized the poor and vulnerable for years, but the specific focus on trash pickups does seem to be making its way throughout the tapestry of right wing groups.

Why do they complain about the garbage but advocate for policies, like ending the safe needle exchange, that would contribute to more of what they rally against?

For generations people have supported and voted for politicians who continue to gut already sparse social services and public health measures. This has directly lead to the appalling material conditions faced by the most vulnerable and marginalized in our community. From the lack of health care, affordable housing, livable wages, social services, to public works efforts like trash clean up. Then, seemingly without any self awareness, these same people will turn around and demonize the very people they themselves have chosen to expose to the most pervasive form of state violence – systemic poverty. Now they want to act like heroes for a photo journal of the trash that the city refuses to pick up?

Well it was a great performance, and that’s all it was. They snapped a bunch of dramatic and shocking staged photos as they always do. This PR stunt was clearly meant to recruit people and get likes, rather than actually address any of the issues that lead to such conditions. Once again there will be harmful policies enacted, creating a situation they can again react to with outrage and use as fodder for more fear mongering.

Why do their posts always end up in calling for anti-homeless action if the concern is litter?

I think we can all agree that litter of any kind is not good. It can be unsafe for those coming into contact with it. It can get into very sensitive ecosystems that deserve our care. No one is advocating for more litter, and this is the point. All involved would appreciate the city doing its fucking job and cleaning up trash around town. But if your critique of the problems stop at the surface then we will never get into the roots of the problem and begin to address them. Garbage is not the problem here, the problem is that so many of our neighbors experience homelessness and addiction.

Yeah Cladie…why WOULDN’T they have ordered a new porta potty?

The garbage is supposed to be collected by the city we pay to clean this place. The city seems perfectly happy to let this relatively minor issue get so big it becomes the boogeyman the right needs in order to gather support for their anti-homeless crusade. A deliberate confusion of the problems, their causes, and their solutions are a part of the clever strategy being employed by this group.

Is the insinuation here that someone was sleeping here? Did a homeless person decide to stop dragging this around? Were they supposed to haul this to the dump? Why does is seem like all the trash in the city is being blamed on the homeless?
Both of these deceptive photos they took are of a locked and gated area behind Redivia. How would a homeless person get back there? The dumpster referred to as “right around the corner” has a lock on it as well. Something that is likely known to the shop owner of the adjacent tattoo parlor, seen making the comment. Not to mention even if there wasn’t a lock on it it would be illegal for them to use it, and these people would be complaining about people using their dumpster.
How does picking up trash solve the problems at hand?

Well that depends on how you define the problem. If the problem you see is too much trash, then perhaps picking it up yourself would make sense. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. But by looking below the surface you can see that there are deeper problems. The problem is in fact a lack of…, a lack of affordable housing, and a lack of jobs with livable wages. Tack onto that a lack of health care, and you can see clearly that the overarching problem is a lack of services from the systems in place to allegedly keep us safe.

Imagine describing a city ordinance as “strong”.

This is a deep ceded problem with very complex and nuanced solutions, admittedly not as easy as simply picking up trash. What we need is an organized community and working class solidarity. That is, seeing the people around us who are out of work or out of doors as our friends and neighbors. “There but for sheer luck goes all of us”. If the system can treat them like this, what’s to stop it from crushing you and your family next under its ever expanding need for shareholder profits.

The problem goes beyond any individual; these are structural and systemic issues, the problem is that ANYONE should not have a comfortable and safe place to live and work. A look at the facts and figures from our report on the pretty non existent response to the recent cold snap shows that even if everyone in this county had an abundance of money the issue of a literal numerical lack of units of affordable housing remains. There is, in a real sense, no where for those experiencing homelessness to go. Money is the problem at every turn. Crucially though the problem isn’t merely a lack of funds, but a inequitable distribution of funds. There is always money for another prison or corporate bail out, or for economic development, but to keep people out of poverty? No, that’s not the goal. The goal is profits at the expense of life. We assert our right to exist, and to have what we need to live in safety.

So what aid is being offered by these blue shirts?

As evidenced by almost every aspect of modern life, the systems supposedly in place to serve and protect us are either miserable failures, or else that was never the intended purpose. In every disaster we can see clearly that the capacity of communities to mobilize to help each other outside of the confines of the state or non-profits. This mutual aid is always delivered more equitably, and efficiently than the slow to respond aid provided by institutions. Seeing a problem and taking direct action to fix it is wonderful, but when it is done in a reactionary way it can actually serve to do more harm than good. This group’s actions do little to combat even the surface level issue of trash, but nothing is to be done to ensure everyone has access to health care, housing, food, land, and all their various other needs. Enough with the bandaids, enough with the performative virtue signaling, enough with the insidious dehumanization. We need system change.

So then what might be the motives of this group?

While little effort is made to hide the cruelty of their comment sections, the actual drive behind actions like this can be hard to discern. For one, we have established the overall benign good that picking up trash has when divorced from any context. Our network has been planning similar clean up efforts, as well as providing resources to the community to help them better dispose of their own trash. The motives are clear when they align themselves with such politicians as Jim Walsh. This article details the inconsistencies between national messaging and member actions that the far right milieu faces generally, and the paramilitary wing in particular. This movement has been tied to politicians such as Walsh, and the Republican Party more generally. By associating with such figures, many of whom (Walsh included) attended the white supremacist heavy “March for our Rights” rally in Olympia last June, they have added another reason to believe that their motives are not so benign. These people clearly have intentions in line with the politics of the far right. Argueing for forced labor, forced treatment, and further criminalization of addiction.

This group, and others like it, need to be watched closely. They have already helped enact truly harmful policies. With their unabashed hatred of the poor, and the folks they associate with, it seems like a matter of time until we start seeing acts of violence taken against our community.

We were able to warn the community of this the night before the event but unfortunately they are used to harassment from this group. We also tried to make sure they wouldn’t be allowed INSIDE tent city AGAIN to snap more cruel photos of people’s private property. Check out our previous report for more on that escapade.

Please be aware and stay safe out there. We would appreciate any eyes on this to let us know about any planned actions from hate groups such as this.

Thank you all. Solidarity forever.

 

Categories
Pressure Campaigns Reports

GHC Commissioners need to hear from YOU!

TL;DR – Scroll to the bottom for the lazy/busy version stock letter to send or email to ALL THREE COMMISSIONERS (esp Warne) and contact info for all three. Now get back to work and read this later.


We desperately need your help contacting our local officials today. GHC commissioners met today and almost moved to deny grant funding to a much needed shelter based on both social media outrage trolls and inaccurate/incomplete information. We were present for the virtual meeting of the Grays Harbor County Commissioners bi-monthly meeting on the first and third Tuesday of the month (an event hopefully present on your own calendar now). On the agenda was the grant funding for the shelter proposed by Chaplains on the Harbor. Listed as “Chaplain’s on the Harbor Emergency Shelter Contract for 35-40 beds – $1,080,000 (grant)”, this money comes from the CARES act funding for Emergency Solutions Grants, NOT the county.

The two recently elected right wing commissioners seemed opposed to the funding, despite one of them seeming quite confused about a couple aspects of the project. Kevin Pine of District 2, whose brother participated in the white riot that occurred January 6th AND coincidentally convinced little Kev to run for office.

– Daily World Puff Piece, Dan Hammock Fri Jul 10th, 2020

The other being Jill Warne of District 1, seen here joking about not knowing how to execute a job that literally determines the life and death of people in this county.

– Daily World Puff Piece, Ryan Sparks, Fri Oct 2nd, 2020

Now, since both these people have made their careers as politicians thus far on – not being politicians, some degree of incompetence is to be expected. But a few of the things mentioned by Kevin in particular were a little hard to believe, so let’s dig in.

First, he tried some casual fear mongering about how the big scary emergency shelter would be in the heart of downtown Aberdeen, a place known to be reserved strictly for the wealthy. This was pushed back on by many in attendance, including commissioner Vickie Raines of District 3. But you don’t have to look any further than the cover document (most likely provided to the commissioners beforehand) to see that the project has yet to move into the phase of selecting a location.

Next he turned to the big boogeyman in the room, the shelter being a LOW BARRIER SHELTER! Queue the scary music. Kevin, as well as members of the hate group SOAP (Save ‘Our’ Aberdeen Please) profiled in our last post, seemed almost deliberately confused on not only what a low barrier shelter WAS but on the fact that the shelter is not described as being “low barrier”. People seemed to think that a low barrier shelter meant that there were no rules or perhaps even laws to keep people safe. Or that people would be allowed to take drugs and do otherwise illegal things without consequence while staying at the shelter. A murky vision of a sin-fueled drug dens swam before our eyes as Kevin described the emergency shelter to be operated by a church, referred to in the same cover letter as above, a “sober safe space”.

Low barrier means that people aren’t denied service because they are mentally ill or addicted to drugs. These programs are designed for that very purpose, in fact to remove that aspect would make any proposal ineligible as per the requirements of the county. You read that right, the county’s own request for proposal REQUIRES any project granted these funds (specifically designated for emergency shelters) to be a low barrier shelter, which was the reason given for the county commissioners to deny it. That’s the banal cruelty of our system for you.

We can also see from this Request for Proposal (RFP) document from the county that the concept of a low barrier model is based solidly on evidence-based practices. So basically, the people who don’t know what they are talking about don’t think it’s a good idea while the people who DO know what they’re talking about think its a great idea. One side has hear-say, the other has science. As if these were two equal opponents using logic and reason to debate an issue in good faith.

The note at the bottom seems almost hand written with this opposition in mind. “*Note: Low-barrier shelters may establish requirements that prohibit the use of drugs and alcohol in common or shared areas of the facility. In addition, facilities may establish behavioral expectations that limit disruptive or violent behavior resulting from intoxication. However, the requirement to abstain completely from alcohol or drug use is not a component of low-barrier facilities.” So on top of, you know, all the laws this shelter could obviously make and enforce rules to keep people safe, thats kind of the whole point here. The simple fact is that these people don’t care about the taxes as it’s not coming from their taxes. They don’t care about the safety of the residents or staff, as rules will ensure both. They don’t care about drugs, as alcohol is never mentioned in their fear mongering, even though it is the most likely substance to be abused and lead to violence. They don’t even care about those experiencing homelessness, or they might have used this RFP as an opportunity to propose their own facility, although they would have to operate within the county guidelines as a low-barrier shelter. They still could have proposed their own solution, with all the rules it could legally handle. Just think, it could have helped so few.

                     – Noted problem-finder Kevin Pine

Another issue that was confused at the meeting was the ever present issue of funding. The money for this shelter is not coming from the county, it is coming from the Washington State Dept of Commerce, and is specifically dedicated for use for “street outreach, emergency shelter, rental assistance, and related services”. They would presumably deny this crucial shelter to ALL because of their fear someone who “doesn’t deserve it” would get a cot for the night. Everyone deserves the right to live. This money cant be used for anything else…what is wrong with these people? Not to mention the allocation chart of the county’s total CARES Act funding shows a clear bias I wonder if you can spot. I’ll give you a hint, it’s going mostly to the same people now filling Kevin’s ears that the poor people are hurting their business or costing them money, as they sit back in their homes and grab cash for NOT operating – and I can not stress this enough – THE BUSINESSES THEY OWN! I mean, where even is the slice for this sort of shelter funding, public health?

So you may now be pissed off and wondering aloud how do I contact these people and let them know what I think about all this. Well, to be honest, the best way would be to join a right wing hate group, but then you’d be in a real pickle. Another viable option would be to simply be well connected, perhaps a family friend.

“What’s that?!” you say? You thought that it was his brother who convinced him to run? Well as you can hopefully tell by now nothing really adds up with ol’ Kevin. He says he’s conservative, and that he wants to help those suffering from a lack of housing and a lack of health care. But then he can deny not spending the county’s money, to a private entity, taking money from a special dedicated fund, for a homeless shelter, that will use jobs to employ a staff, while helping people get back to work and paying rents. He votes to dismiss, or moves to deny, or – ah hell! Who cares about knowing how to do this job anyway. Deny, not because of any science based reason, as the science clearly leans towards a low barrier model, but based on internet rumors and gossip. Inconsistency and hypocrisy at full throttle, Kevin looks poised to shoot to the top of the Republican ticket in years to come.

Kevin Pine, seen here contemplating the death of the poor.

Anyway, fuck this rotten system that promotes needless suffering to satisfy the profit margins of a few. Below is the contact info for these jabronis, as well as various prompts/stock letters for people to use in their emails or letters. Please consider writing to these people, especially Jill Warne, she seemed to realize that she wasn’t fully informed on all the facts and wisely decided, as did the full commission eventually, to table the matter until more community outreach can be done. She may be more amenable to the arguments posed here than the clearly disingenuous and thoroughly disinformed Kevin. I personally don’t see a solution in turning to the government for assistance, these folks will always have more money, more connections, more back dealings, more masks for their hate, more reasons to deny our humanity. I want system change. But as a friend told me, “We must stay alive to get there”. Stay safe out there, and don’t forget this is all happening during a pandemic.

           In Love and Rage, CRMAN


In an effort to increase the abysmal accessibility of the so-called public meetings we are going to be collecting comments and letters from our friends in the streets to pass along to the commissioners. The commissioners couldn’t be bothered to go ask them what they thought about this project, and its likely they have no idea its been proposed. If you asked them your responses might be skewed I guess. We will bring the public to them going forward.

We also are publishing these prompts to either get your creative juices flowing to construct your own personal letter, or to simply help make choosing the right words easier. Feel free to edit or add how you see fit. Commissioner contact info is at the bottom, please email each one individually. Get to know these three people, they unfortunately have an enormous amount of power over our lives.

Prompt 1 – for those currently or previously experiencing homelessness:

Grays Harbor County Commissioners Vicki Raines, Jill Warne, and Kevin Pine, My name is _________________ and I have been a resident of Grays Harbor for _____ years. I am writing today in support of Chaplains on the Harbor opening a shelter. I am currently not living in ideal circumstances and have been surviving by sleeping _________________________________________. (Examples: outside, at the shelter, in my car, with friends) I started living this way _____ years/months ago because _______________. This situation was brought on by _________________________________________________________________. I hope that with stable housing where I feel welcomed and supported I can (goals) _________________. I have been trying to ________________________, and I think I can reach that goal when I have the security of having a safe place to be where people accept me. I support Chaplains on the Harbor opening a shelter space in Grays Harbor because the people who work there have been where I am. They know what I go though. Also, they have been out here on the street helping us in every way they can for a long time. I know I can count on them because they have been there for me.

Sincerely, ____________________

Prompt 2 – for those currently or previously experiencing homeness:

Grays Harbor County Commissioners Vicki Raines, Jill Warne, and Kevin Pine, My name is _________________ and I have been a resident of Grays Harbor for _____ years. I am writing today in support of Chaplains on the Harbor opening a shelter.

While I am currently in a house, I realize that it could perhaps be me out there, either in a different circumstance, or down the road a ways. I want to live in a place that would take care of me if I lost my house, and not turn its back on me in my highest moment of need.

I support Chaplains on the Harbor opening a shelter space in Grays Harbor because the people who work there have been where the people they intend to serve have been. They know what they go though. Also, they have been out on the street helping in every way they can for a long time. I know I can count on them because they have been there for the community.

Sincerely, ____________________

Prompt 3 – for those currently or previously experiencing laziness or busyness:

Grays Harbor County Commissioners Vicki Raines, Jill Warne, and Kevin Pine, My name is _________________ and I have been a resident of Grays Harbor for _____ years. I am writing today in support of Chaplains on the Harbor opening a shelter.

Sincerely, ____________________

Contact Info:

Grays Harbor County Board of Comissioners (360) 249-3731 / 1-800-230-1638

Jill Warne (Central park to Elma)
Commissioner
District No. 1
jwarne@co.grays-harbor.wa.us

Kevin Pine (Aberdeen to Westport)
Commissioner
District No. 2

kpine@co.grays-harbor.wa.us

VICKIE RAINES (Hoquiam, Ocean Shores, Quinault, Cosmopolis)
Commissioner
District No. 3

VRaines@co.grays-harbor.wa.us

 

Categories
General Reports

Hello from Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network

If you’re seeing this, then you have taken some measure to show interest in getting involved beyond simply following us our socials. You may be have been notified of this post by text, email, or in our Facebook Group. We don’t mean to overwhelm anyone, so feel free to follow, or unfollowing wherever makes the most sense for you; simply respond with STOP in whatever medium you received this to end these notifications.

The redundancy is meant to include as many people as possible in our work. We aim to be as accessible as possible, and can further this goal by offering an array of communication methods, including in person meetings for those with no internet or phone access. These three volunteer channels will receive the same announcements, but have slightly different methods for responding in a group chat setting, this is further explained below.

These will be our regular channels for: communiques to this volunteer network, an upcoming radical newsletter covering local and non-local issues, and any other announcements of relevance such as calls to action, or events. Each will have its own group chat function to allow us to coordinate supplies pickups and drop offs, specific requests for aid, random chit chat, discussions of future plans, and whatever else you want to talk about.

IF YOU ARE ABLE PLEASE DOWNLOAD SIGNAL, THIS IS OUR PREFERRED METHOD OF COMMUNICATION. If you do download Signal please let us know so we can switch you over to that list.

As the first of many such releases we wanted to say hello, introduce ourselves, and share our new public schedule. By way of an introduction please look over the home page of this website, as well as the various other pages and resources we have listed here. Check out the new dedicated schedule page.

The biggest changes are a shift of our community meal and free store from Sunday afternoon to Saturday evening, and the addition of a in-person community meeting. This is crucial to us. We see this work as radical political direct action, and by coming together as a community to discuss our lives and our futures, we can start to make much needed plans for securing ourselves the liberation, security, and safety unavailable to us currently.This meeting will hopefully serve as a rallying point for our small but growing group, a way to hear directly from the community on what the needs are, as well as checking another box on the accessibility checklist. If you cannot make these meetings, a report back will be included in our newsletters.

We have had a lot of recent interest in joining our efforts and/or lending occasional assistance and we are actively working to write up quick and easy how to’s in order to clarify what roles (known playfully as “blocs”) we have envisioned and as many low-barrier ways to plug in as possible. Stay tuned for that, most pressing will be mobile bloc, garden bloc, and cooking bloc.

We want to make it as easy as possible to join these efforts, but also want to remind everyone that we are just a small group of local residents and there’s no need to “join our group” necessarily. If you like something we are doing please rip us off, copy us, and steal our methods for yourself. We want to keep things horizontal, decentralized, and resilient by modeling tactics that can be generalized and replicated by anyone, anywhere, and in any capacity. If you want to initiate your own project or group, we can also help with that.

We will leave it there for now, but you have not heard the last of us…unless you unsubscribe, then you might have heard the last of us. We appreciate the loving response we have thus far received from this community and look forward to building local grassroots power so we can start getting what we need outside of reliance on the state.

Email lists: sign up by sending us your email address

If you are receiving this as an email then please be aware that we have set up TWO email lists, this one from ‘crmutualaidnetnewletter@lists.riseup.net’ will serve as our newsletter, full of local and non-local radical news of importance to our work, as well as updates and calls to action for volunteers. Emails will be regular but less frequent (think weekly) and you will not be able to respond to these emails.

 

The second, will come to you from ‘crmutualaidnetchat@lists.riseup.net’ and this one has been set up to function as a chat room for volunteers who do not have the ability to chat over Signal(mobile messenger app), our preferred method of communication. Anyone on this list will be able to respond to the ENTIRE list by sending an email to ‘crmutualaidnetchat@lists.riseup.net’ as you would in a chat room. Private emails are of course still possible between folks but this will allow us to communicate as a group. If you want to stop on or both of these email lists, please make sure you specificy that when replying STOP to crmutualaidnet@riseup.net

 

For both lists your name may or may not be visible to the rest of the group. To conceal your name or email address simply reach out to let us know, and if you need a secondary email address we recommend protonmail.

Phone lists: Sign up by sending us a text requesting you be added

If you are seeing this as a text you are on our phone list. We have set up TWO phone chats, one on Signal for encrypted communications, and the other is an unencrypted group chat for those without Signal. We recommend downloading Signal(mobile messenger app), our preferred method of communication, on your smartphone if that option is available to you. If not then you can stay here and should be able to chat as a group together here, just be aware that this particular channel is not encrypted in any way.

Facebook Group: Request to Join on Facebook

We have set this group up in order to garner more active participation with a very low-barrier to entry, since most people currently have a Facebook account. Unfortunately, although it is the easiest way to find us originally, we encourage folks to consider moving to ANY of our other communication methods, as this is our least favorite. We try to avoid using Facebook where possible. Either way, this group will remain open in case that is all you are comfortable with or capable of.

For all of the above mentioned communication methods we ask that folks be aware that these are all public channels, encrypted or not, so do not say anything sensitive, or private, or give out personal info in the group. You are not required and are in fact encouraged not to use your real legal name unless absolutely neccessary. Private communications are generally more sensitive and we ask you get in touch through text 206-530-7806 or email crmutualaidnet@riseup.net

Categories
Reports

Report Back on the Cold Snap

Polar vortex catches many unprepared, including mutual aid groups

Over the weekend of February 13th a polar vortex swept through the region bringing freezing temperatures and threatening the unhoused community in town. This was not technically a surprise since winter occurs literally every single year and Grays Harbor Emergency Management was citing The National Weather services reports on potentially lethal temps as early as February 9.As of February 12th we were on the phone to CCAP trying to figure out how to get more spaces opened up to shelter folx on an emergency basis. We learned a lot in those talks and were somewhat deflated to learn that neither the city or county had any plans to open up more spaces.

There is only one cold weather shelter in town, ran by Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP) and funded by Grays Harbor County (GHC) with a capacity of 25 people. The contract specifies this minimum capacity and its minimal hours of operation. Despite receiving thousands of dollars for this facility it remains apparently understaffed according to CCAP. This under staffing is what contributes to its low capacity, since GHC imposed stricter restrictions on the ratio of sheltered individuals to staff following a COVID positive test there earlier this year. This test, the restricted spaces, and a general lack of trust in the institutions running the Cold Weather Shelter (CWS) have led to it being under utilized as a shelter. The county’s own estimates put the number of unsheltered people living in the county at anywhere between 500 and 3,000 people. They delineate, define, and qualify between types of “homeless” from “literal homelessness” to “unstably housed“. Split apart these numbers range from roughly 500-700 people who are literally homeless and  3,000 unstably housed. Needless to say the county’s 25 bed shelter is insufficient to shelter even the lowest estimate.

To be clear we do not place the blame for these circumstances on CCAP, they do wonderful work in their capacity, which doesn’t typically include running a shelter. We put the blame squarely on the so-called leaders in positions of power who had to have seen this all coming and did nothing.

On the evening of February 12th with the snow piling up to dangerous levels we at Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network stepped our work into overdrive – donations were requested and received, we distributed all the hot food we could, and we provided cold weather gear to those unable or unwilling to go to the shelter overnight. We told our friends we would check back on them in the morning and left them out in the snow. We were caught unprepared by this weather event and did our best to get rally and provide and learn from the experience.It will not come as a surprise to hear that we were ecstatic when we were made aware of another mutual aid group in town opening up an emergency shelter. This shelter was being set up on the fly in a matter of hours by a separate mutual aid group and NOT city or county officials. This is what community looks like. We were delighted and immediately went to work offering our support to that project including sharing the info and volunteering our time. Unfortunately for all involved this shelter was only open for one night because of circumstances outside of our control. We were sad to see it close and no new shelter has opened up in its place.

We here at Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network are not yet at a capacity of being able to open and run a shelter, so we refocused our attention on our previous mutual aid work distributing food and supplies to the unhoused where they are at. We learned that transportation is one of the largest hurdles to folx utilizing even the current CWS, since it is difficult to move all of ones belongings that distance each day. A 24-hr shelter, zero barrier shelter would solve this issue, and a 24 hour shelter run as mutual aid and not institutional charity would be even better. But until radicals can effectively address the root causes of these material conditions no amount of cold weather shelters will be enough to shelter us all. Capitalism will continue to evict us onto the streets for being poor and then harass those in snow-covered tents in the middle of a pandemic, housing crisis, and snow storm. As the police did during and after this extreme weather event.

The leading cause of being exposed to houselessness of any kind is a lack of affordable housing, also known as landlords. We should perhaps be willing to look beyond the very institutions and systems that force people into poverty with starvation wages while allowing landlords to increase rent arbitrarily and without end. Because the officials in positions of power seems perfectly content to let poor people die in the streets as long as the landlords can collect more and more rent, we must take care of each other through mutual aid and autonomous direct action.

Sources:

Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services 2019-2020 Annual Housing Program Update

Grays Harbor County Five Year Plan to Address Unmet Housing Needs

Grays Harbor County 10-year Plan to End Homelessness

Grays Harbor Public Health and Social Services Youtube channel

Playlist of videos on GHC Housing Plan Update: