Written by Julia C., Westside Oly
Why Are City Councilmembers & County Commissioners Silent on Suppression of Free Speech & Assault by Local Anarchist Hate Groups?
On September 5th, a group of 50+ local anarchists attacked an air force pilot, knocking him off his motorcycle, beating him with a baseball bat, and spraying him in the face with mace and paint.1 A woman in a nearby vehicle screamed at them to stop while her children cried in the backseat. They told her that “sometimes kids need to cry to learn.”2 A Good Samaritan tried to stop them and she was attacked as well.1 To these anarchists, this beating was justified because the man had a confederate flag on his motorcycle. This, however, was not their planned target. The mob proceeded to City Hall – swinging bats, throwing rocks, and smashing out windows, before running up 4th avenue. 1,3
If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:
The police department has rightfully identified these local anarchists as a Hate Group.1 Yes, like many people, I see the confederate flag as a symbol of slavery and oppression; nonetheless, flying that flag is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution and this was an attack on free speech. This organized attack on City Hall wasn’t just vandalism of a building. City Hall is our local White House and this is an attack on democracy and free speech at the most fundamental level.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that this Hate Group has damaged city property, attacked innocent people, or suppressed free speech. This is business as usual in Olympia. The anarchists symbol (otherwise known as the A-hole sign), can be found spray-painted on nearly every piece of public property in the city.
We saw the same suppression of free speech in 2013 when a city council candidate had the windows of his business shot out repeatedly after stating views unpopular with anarchists.4 Many downtown business owners remain fearful of having their property vandalized for expressing concerns related to transiency, narcotics and related violent and property crime.
If you’re wondering why City Council members (present or running) and County Commissioners haven’t spoken one word in public about this violence in the heart of the city, so are we.
Maybe it’s because it’s election season and they’re afraid to mutter a word that has anything to do with the officer-involved shooting. Maybe they’re just afraid of the anarchists, who take over City Hall when the city isn’t being run they way that they want. Or maybe it’s because several City Council members work closely with local anarchist groups like EGYHOP (the anarchist mobile syringe distributor)5, funneling federal and property tax money6 and diverting city park funding7 to organizations that work intimately with EGYHOP, such as Interfaith Works and Capital Recovery Center (CRC). Councilmember Selby was accurate when she noted CRC’s Downtown Ambassador’s Program logo resembles the symbol for anarchy.8
Every person in this country has the right to walk down to City Hall and execute their right to free speech, regardless of the message, without being threatened or attacked by Hate Groups. Right now, that is simply not a safe option in Olympia and it is unacceptable. Olympia police need enhanced resources to ensure that arrests are made next time Hate Group members attack innocent citizens or vandalize public buildings.
1.Olympia Police Department, stories from the street, September 5th http://olympiawa.gov/city-services/police-department/news-and-notifications/sfs.aspx
2. Online comment from witness, About 100 Demonstrate Against Nazis, Police in Downtown Olympia, The Olympian, September 5, 2015 http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article34227510.html
3. City Hall Security Camera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqtfeT0oIdI
4. Recent Vandalism Has Chilling Affect Downtown, Bellingham Herald, September 26, 2013 http://www.bellinghamherald.com/opinion/article22218612.html
5. EGYHOP http://oly-wa.us/egyhop/FAQs.php
6. Thurston County HOME Consortium, June 9 2014 http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/sscp/PDF/a060914.pdf
7. Olympia City Council Agenda, February 25, 2014 https://olympia.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=296694&GUID=181686AE-7B7D-4E88-B34C-C5A6922AC535&Options=&Search=
8. Olympia Downtown Ambassador Program Director Fired, The Olympian, May 1st, 2015 http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article26127697.html