Social Justice: We oppose systemic global injustice and poverty. We seek universal health care, fair payment for work, equitable drug laws and corrections to many other wrongs that exist today.
Grassroots Democracy: The influence of big business and big government combined is undermining genuine democracy. To help overcome this, we promote public participation at all levels of government, and a better electoral system.
Non-Violence: We must develop effective alternatives to society’s current patterns of violence. Greens work globally to demilitarize foreign policies, redirecting defense budgets to purposes of health, safety, education, and the welfare of all.
Ecological Wisdom: We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit from the practices of our generation. We seek to protect ecological diversity and balance.
Future Focus: As did the Iroquois, we strive to create a society where the interests of the Seventh Generation are considered equal to the interests of the present.
Decentralization: Decision-making in our social, political, and economic institutions should reside as far as possible at the individual and local levels, consistent with ecological sustainability, civil rights, and social justice.
Gender Equality: We are committed to gender equality in all aspects of our society. We wish to replace top-down domination with cooperation, compassion, communication and understanding.
Community-Based Economics: We seek a new economics based on global ecological sustainability, livable wages, sufficient social safety nets, and democratically accountable businesses.
Personal and Global Responsibility: We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of our planet. We take personal responsibility in upholding our values.
Respect for Diversity: We honor the biological diversity of the earth and the cultural, racial, sexual and spiritual diversity of its people.
May 21, 2016
There was a march and rally of 150 to 200 people in the rain, May 21, 2016 from Woodruff Park to Olympia City Hall and back. We took the streets. This is the text of my talk in front of City Hall.
Today is a sad anniversary because of what happened a year ago! Let us turn it into a positive and meaningful day. I want to thank the organizers and all of you who are here.
A year ago, two young Black men, Andre Thompson and Bryon Chaplin, were shot by White police officer, Ryan Donald. They had attempted to shop lift beer from Safeway and after dropping the beer inside the store were returning home. Officer Donald stopped them and claimed he felt threatened by their skateboards. He shot them many times in the spine and torso. Bryson Chaplin is now in a wheel chair. In a very overt display of racism among the police chief, other law enforcements agencies who investigated the shooting, the City Council and City manager, and County Prosecutor Tunheim, charged Bryon Chaplin and Andre Thompson with felony assault, and totally cleared Police Officer Ryan Donald. Donald remains a danger as a police officer to the community, especially to young Black people.
I know the brothers—Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin—their sister, Jasmine, and mother Chrystal; they are real assets to Olympia. Andre and Bryson are unlike what many unacquainted people think of them. Many, who have no knowledge of them, have called them thugs—a racist term. They are decent young men.
We in Olympia need to put forward a different narrative and do our own investigation about what happened a year ago because otherwise too many people will accept the police narrative designed to cover up the actions of Ryan Donald. Many lawyers advise not to discuss the evidence. I disagree. Giving a true version of what happened, putting holes in the police propaganda, will build support for Bryson and Andre and can create a climate that will increase the chance the jury will acquit them or that the charges will be dropped.
I have lived in Olympia almost 30 years and raised my daughter and three sons here. Several people I know had thought a police shooting of innocent young black people could not happen in Olympia; shootings of this type happen elsewhere, not in our “liberal progressive” city. Sadly Olympia, its mayor, the city council, and much of the population are not progressive when it comes to challenging racism and being inclusive around race, class and sexual identity. They are not progressive when it comes to treating the homeless population with respect and making housing affordable for all, nor progressive enough to support a $15 an hour minimum wage and paid sick leave. They are not progressive about taxing upper income people to pay for the first year or two of college, nor progressive when it comes to ending our port’s complicity with the military and the war machine.
Let us connect these issues and build a bold and inclusive mass movement that makes racial justice a core principle. Let us challenge poverty in Olympia and beyond and make connections among all these interrelated issues which includes climate justice and the determination not to accept meaningless proclamations of concern. Let us add to our numbers in our organizations and in the streets and win these changes, but not stop there.
This is not the first time in Olympia that young people have been unjustly harmed by the police. This is not an isolated case. Danny Spencer was killed by the Olympia police in 1989 for being high on LSD; Stephen Edwards was tasered to death for shoplifting in 2002; Jose Ramirez-Jimenez was shot and killed by the police in 2008.
In the cities where police shootings or killings have taken place, e.g., Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Akil Gurley in Brooklyn, John Williams in Seattle, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Washington, Daniel Covarrubias in Lakewood, Washington, and Bryon Chaplin and Andre Thompson in Olympia, the claim is always police actions were justifiable or it was an accident. In each of these cases, the official story is that other places may be experiencing racism or excess police force, but not in our town, not in this specific case; law enforcement and our city are innocent, blameless and not racist. Too many accept this scenario—including in Olympia. Let us see through this rationale for Olympia and not let Olympia exceptionalism continue.
A year ago today, May 21, 2015, in response to the shooting of Andre Thompson and Bryon Chaplin, 800 people rallied and marched from Woodruff Park to Olympia City Hall standing against police violence and racism. This was important and inspiring, but we need to struggle continually—not just once a year—against racism and all forms of oppression in Olympia and beyond. Let us demand the charges be dropped against Bryson and Andre, that their medical expenses be paid for by the City of Olympia, that Officer Ryan Donald be fired, that the police be demilitarized, and an independent civilian review board be created that can discipline cops who violate the law.
While it is important that we talk to people about this case and attend demonstrations and rallies, this is not enough.
We are living in a period of growing economic inequality, an accelerating environmental crisis, and a continuing practice of our government waging wars around the world. Our government and its police, along with the corporations, are waging a war at home against the working class and poor peoples, especially, but not limited to, African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Muslims. Hillary Clinton is part of the problem—a representative of the one percent. The Republican Party candidate, Donald Trump, encourages white supremacists and fascists in creating a climate that helps build their organizations, many of them support him. Trump hopefully, because of his extreme racism, will cause a rise of a militant and bold anti-racist and anti-fascist movement. Let us be a part of this upsurge.
I urge everyone to think big and to do something every day—as individuals and in the groups we form and build, in our communities, workplaces and schools—to go beyond business as usual and beyond normal daily activities. This means listening to and talking to people we haven’t talked to before; it means a willingness to take risks and risking arrest because militancy can challenge those in power. Let us make the connections between poverty, racism, Islamophobia, militarism, sexism, homophobia, climate change and meaningless jobs and alienation to the underlying oppressive and destructive global capitalist system that is destroying the planet in order to benefit the 1%. Let us create a society based on production for need, a participatory socialist society, where sustainability is real—a non-class liberated society where poverty, racism and all forms of oppression are ended.
Drop the charges against Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson.
Si, se puede, power to the people.
Black Lives Matter!
Pete Bohmer teaches political economy at Evergreen and is active in organizing for economic justice and against U.S. imperialism. He is currently coordinating and participating in Economics for Everyone workshops in downtown Olympia.
By the Washington Youth Rainbow Coalition
Tacoma – Imagine that you had to flee from your own country to a completely new place to find a new job. Once you got settled into the country, you ran a red light or made an illegal left turn. For most Americans, and especially for most white Americans, this might result in a $100 ticket or a slap on the wrist. But for brown Americans, law enforcement not only requests your Driver’s license and registration, but also your naturalization documents. Not only does this affect legal Chicano-Americans in that those who do not have documentation with them are at risk of being sent to detention centers as documented Americans, but it certainly affects those without naturalization documents or simply those who left them at home. For Chicano Americans, as well as those who may be mistaken for being Chicano, the initial response might be to convince the police that you are not undocumented. However, law enforcement makes the ultimate decision about where to send you after you have been detained in central lock-up. For many Chicano-Americans, both documented and undocumented, you end up in Tacoma Northwest Detention Center.
Believe it or not, this is exactly what happened to Rennison Vern Castillo. He is a documented citizen but still spent months in custody before an immigration judge set him free. The circumstances in another man’s case were very much so different, though. Angel Padilla was 17-years-old when he committed an armed robbery, which he says was a huge mistake on his part. Padilla served 19 years for this crime and when released was taken back to be locked up at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. He did not commit an additional crime, but as an undocumented individual, his very existence proved to be a crime upon release from prison.
Some might say that the Northwest Detention Center serves a purpose, and that the inmates who reside there are dangerous and need to be kept away from documented citizens including women and children, who might fall victim to their predatory habits. But this opinion is all too common presently, as we have seen the mighty populism of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rear its ugly head. Xenophobic rhetoric is one thing, but when local Washington companies both operate against statistics and prove to be an efficient waste of money, all while violating basic human rights, we know what must be done. We know what must be done when only about 1,000 of the 1,300 detainees wear blue, denoting that they do not have a violent criminal history. We know what must be done when we consider that brown Americans who have simply violated traffic laws are bedded alongside the dangerous. We know what must be done when a major corporation like GEO Group makes a profit off the disastrous result of NAFTA and other destabilizing trade agreements which have negatively impacted Indigenous and Mestizo peoples in Mexico and Central America.
The Northwest Detention Center is operated by GEO Group, fronted by CEO George Zoley, and funded in part by the Gates Foundation. There have been many protests in the past three years organized by Presente and other groups surrounding issues like Angel Padilla’s lack of access to healthcare, specifically treatment for cancer he may have developed due to poor conditions in prison, as well as the conditions of “The Hole”, a place where hunger strikers are often sent for solitary confinement.
Our Rainbow Coalition has decided that based on the costs of incarceration with GEO Group, it would be much more efficient for ICE to put the “blue” detainees on house arrest and spend about $20/day to make the undocumented wear GPS ankle bracelets with occasional visits to their residences by officers. Our Rainbow Coalition has decided that it is the duty of both the Federal government (ICE) and the Gates Foundation (which is double-dipping by investing Seattle Public Schools testing programs which more often than not fail ESL students), to divest from GEO Group. We call for a boycott of all institutions to those the Gates Foundation has donated, as well as for future protests to occur outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma as well as Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle. The fight has not yet been won. GEO Group still needs to go. Please visit NWDCResistance.org if you are interested in volunteering to help shut down this facility.
The Washington Youth Rainbow Coalition is a sister organization located in Seattle, Washington.