Hey folks, check out this independent media project that Matthew E. and I have been working on the past few weeks. Matt is a serious working class militant from South Seattle with deep roots in the community. He and I went to do a counter-protest, crashing one of the pro-cop rallies that have been going on recently, hosted by the families of cops. We spoke out about how police terrorism is not just a matter of a few bad officers; it is a systemic problem. The media interviewed both of us but only covered me. We both felt this was an example of white supremacy – how the media does not want to cover perspectives from Black militants like Matt. So to challenge that, we put together this video project about police brutality in Seattle. Matt breaks it down with some razor sharp analysis. In a series of interviews, working class people of color from the 206 share their experiences with the Seattle Police Department, showing that the murder of the late J.T. Williams is HARDLY an isolated incident.
The video is here, in 4 parts.
We hope to turn this into an ongoing project. We also hope to cover other topics besides police terrorism, and to broaden out the range of folks we interview.
This kind of work represents the kind of practical activity that Black Orchid is engaging in. Here are some of the ways it expresses the kind of method we aim to put into practice:
1)The Black Marxist CLR James stated that one of the key roles of revolutionary organization should be to “recognize and record” the self-activity of working class people. Self-activity means all the ways people take matters into our own hands, attempting to take responsibility for democratically running our own communities and institutions. Revolutionary organizations are in no position to TEACH people how to do this. We are not an enlightened vanguard here to lift people out of their ignorance. Instead we ourselves need to learn and develop as militants as the rest of the working class develops; we need to grow in conversation with our neighbors, coworkers, and friends who are also struggling to be free. Working class people are constantly struggling in large and small ways to build our own autonomy, our own confidence, our own ability to run society. Video projects like this document those struggles, and document the elements of revolutionary consciousness that exist out there among working folks. Unlike many Leftists, we do not dismiss the raw expressions and vocabulary expressed in these interviews; we see them as part of a potential revolutionary sensibilility. Yes, everyday people have contradictions; some have latent faith in the system, some have sexist or heterosexist ideas which we need to challenge, etc.. But the reality is much of the Left has the same contradictions; we need to work these contradictions through together in struggle, and in this process we are not better than anyone else.
2) Recognizing and recording is not enough; Lenin said we need to intervene in struggle to provide an analysis of what’s going on, to share whatever theoretical tools we have so that our coworkers, neighbors, etc. can use those tools to develop their own theories and to advance their own practical struggles beyond the impasses and contradictions we all face. We need to democratize theory and share it so that it won’t be monopolized by academia, the media, and the education system. Matt E. does this in his interviews, where he breaks down the overall role of the police in capitalist society, exposing in a really clear way how the cops support capitalism. Black Orchid Collective is also working on a theoretical piece which will be our attempt to help advance the anti-police brutality struggle in Seattle.
3) This is a concrete collaboration between a member of our collective and one of our friends. Unlike many traditional Communist organizations, we don’t aim to monopolize institution building efforts under the banner of our own group’s name. We see the importance of collaborating with other militants who might not agree with us on every single point, creating spaces where we can learn from each other through collective practice. That’s why we work with comrades outside our group to build broader formations like From the Streets Productions. Through doing this work, I got to know Matt a lot better and learned a lot from him. We hope more militants, with a variety of politics, will get involved in this project over time.
Here is a description of what we hope to build:
From the Streets Productions is an independent media project rooted in the streets of Seattle. We bring you interviews, political analysis, and news from the REAL 206, not the Starbucks latte-sipping Microsoft emerald city. We are the people behind the curtains whose labor keeps this city running, and we’re tired of getting beaten by the cops, screwed by our landlords, and taken advantage of by our bosses.
Here is a description of the first video project, Police State Amerikkka:
Recently Seattle Police have engaged in several well-publicized cases of brutality, including the killing of Native woodcarver J.T. Williams. In response, thousands of people have mobilized in protest. The mainstream media, however, have not covered perspectives from militant people of color who are standing up against the police. To counter that, we interviewed working class people of color from the streets of Seattle who wished to share their experiences with police brutality and their thoughts on the role of police in our society and our city.
Also, in terms of militant perspectives from people of color in the 206, shout out to the All Power to the Positive podcast. Sensei Greg Lewis has been holding it down, consistently challenging easy answers about police terror in Seattle and pushing everyone to think about how to fight back successfully (in his case quite literally). Call up the folks over at KBCS and let them know that you want to hear All Power to the Positive on the radio. Peter Graff, Program Director | KBCS 91.3 FM Community RadioPh: (425) 564-6162 | firstname.lastname@example.org If we want to build a movement we need serious media outlets like this!