Interview with a Seattle SquatterTagged as: free_spaces glitter squatting
This interview is published in Using Space seven [http://northern-indymedia.org/zines/2656]
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As recorded in the 'Informal Update on Situation in Seattle' (see Using Space Six), a building in Seattle had been squatted and named the Turritopsis Nutricula house, after a type of jellyfish which could theoretically exist forever. But just as jellyfish can (i guess) fall victim to predators or motoboats, the TN house was eventually evicted with great pomp by the cancerous city. [Details - http://pugetsoundanarchists.org/node/1299].
Here we supply a short interview made with one of the participants in the house in February 2012 [shame it's not more timely but hey zines can be hard to finish off sometimes..]:
1.)Heyup! How's it going with finding a new place?
I went and opened a new place the day before we got kicked out of the
first. The new one's still open [as of February 2012], with electricity,
heaters, furniture, barricades and relatively friendly neighbors. This one's
more surreptitious though. I'm looking at one other house in particular
right now, too. A really nice one. Very public too-- So it'll be difficult, but
potentially meaningful and definitely fun. Seattle has no shortage of empty
2.) It's really cool to hear about people squatting in Seattle (and
Oakland, Chapel Hill, Detroit, Santa Cruz, New York, Miami, all
over the shop really) in a public way in the U$A. What are your
thoughts on this pretty recent development?
I think a lot of tactics that many of us have been using for years/decades
in the U.S. have recently gained local mainstream popularity, or at least
acceptance. Black bloc is another example of this. The #occupy move-
ment, because of it's openness in regards to political affiliations, analyses,
tactics, intentions, targets, etc. has drawn a wide variety of participants
and a huge audience, many of whom have never been involved in any
protest or action before. This means, for better or worse, that there are a
lot of new activists using old tactics and veteran activists taking
advantage of the spotlight.
3.) Occupy is obviously a reference point, what else is inspiring
you to take action? Squatting in other countries and contexts?
Punk houses? The European social centre movement? Occupa-
tions in South America?
Ungdomshuset. Hahahah, there are A LOT of inspirational actions and
movements I could mention here, but Ungdomshuset was definitely talked
about frequently in the T.N. squat. I also want to highlight the Korean oc-
cupations, South American occupations, the squats in Athens [and all the
intensity there!] and of course, the spaces here in the Central District of
Seattle that were claimed as community centers through years and years
of highly confrontational squatting. Also, most of the collective were active
long before #ows and brought our own backgrounds [with squatting and
otherwise] and inspirations from our own experiences. The person who
put up our castle locks learned how to make them while squatting in Eu-
4.) Regarding the story of the eviction [covered with photos at
http://pugetsoundanarchists.org/node/1299], it's interesting
reading the media about the eviction, but for me it's a bit unclear
why no-one got arrested. That seems weird. Is it because they
didn't want any more publicity around squatting or Occupy? The
Fox TV clip says it's because the owner didn't want to press
charges (love the way he pronounces anarchy by the way).
The Fox TV clip is the best-- he mentions bottles of "urine" [actually vine-
gar, in case of tear gas or fire] and a "pipe for smoking drugs" that none
of us have ever seen, then he shows our rules but blurs out the "no drugs
or alcohol" rule! Hahaha...As far as no one getting arrested, the laws are
really tricky around that here. Since we had to be evicted through court,
we weren't ever actually trespassing, legally. The sheriff just had to come
enforce the eviction, but when they did, we just went to the next house. I
*would* like to point out though, that the police couldn't get through our
barricades. They needed to get a gas-powered saw to cut the door down.
5.) On the ground, were local residents actually sympathetic with
your occupation? In my experience I find most people are OK
with squatters if you get a chance to talk to them and show you
are "normal" "real" people rather than the stereotype the main-
stream media presents.
Some of them were. A lot of them were not. We tried to talk to the neigh-
bors, put up fliers about what we were doing, held open houses and block
parties, but a lot of people still hated us for one reason or another. Our
next door neighbor, who's been interviewed by I-don't-know-how-many
news crews is involved in house repossessions. We are the manifestation
of "the enemy" to her, and as far as I'm concerned, that's just fine; the
feeling's mutual. A lot of that neighborhood is gentrified and the rest is
*being gentrified*. So, as anti-gentrification activists, we, of course, were
hated by a large part of "the community".
Also, local gangs and others would fuck with us sometimes because they
knew we wouldn't call the cops. We had our windows broken, got attacked
and shot at, but always stood our ground, and after a little while of us
showing our strength and unity and the broader community coming out,
ready to fight to defend us, those attacks stopped. So, it was pretty well
6.) Is there a kind of squat scene in Seattle? In Brighton there is
in that there's a tradition of squatting since the 1970s (incom-
pletely covered in Using Space 5) but it's pretty small. We have
five active squats at the moment and that's probably the best it
has been for the last three years.
No, not since the struggles in the C.D., over the African American Heritage
Museum and the Coleman School and Umoja P.E.A.C.E. Center. I've been
complaining about the absence of a squat scene/counterculture here since
I got here. But it looks like we've changed that. Squats are opening up left
and right here now.
7.) Maybe connected to the previous question about a scene, do
you have many underground media connections, within Seattle
and beyond? In Brighton we have a few zines and SchNEWS, a
Tides Of Flame printed stuff about the squat, someone made a video
about it to show as an introduction to the collective at an Umoja event,
[They asked for the film.] Other than that, I dunno...I mainly get my news
from pugetsoundanarchists.org, lol.