We, independent members of the Occupy Seattle movement, are occupying this Chase bank to interrupt business as usual. We are here to show you that the polished, sanitized spaces of our day-to-day lives are places of horror. Banks don’t simply add arbitrary fees to debit cards or double your interest rates. They perpetuate poverty. They drive homelessness, and with it joblessness and the denial of healthcare. They force people out of homes through sub-prime lending and foreclosures, gentrifying neighborhoods in their wake by investing in real estate and construction firms that build condos and drive up market rates. They help make your “up-and-coming” neighborhoods whiter and wealthier and dispossess everyone needed to make them so. And for those who operate at the margins of society, committing victimless “crimes” or trying to save themselves and their families from starvation, banks are there to dehumanize them when they land in a private prison or get locked up in an immigrant concentration camp, like Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center (its extensive human rights abuse courtesy of Wells Fargo). All while executives reward themselves with millions for lives they have ruined and will ruin again, for a bottom line written in blood.
This movement isn’t just about bailouts. It’s not even about CEO salaries, corporate taxation, or campaign finance reform. The extremes of social and economic injustice most people experience today existed way before the recession, before Citizens United, and before executive pay skyrocketed in the last half-century. It’s about a culture. It’s about the logical consequences of capitalism. It’s about what those of us who grew up in America have heard since day one—the strong survive, the cream rises to the top. But the strength of those on top rests on the backs of millions who were never given a chance to achieve, the cream stays white, and the playing field is never even. It’s about the expectation your value as a person lies in your ability to drain money out of other people, and not in your ability to pursue your dreams in solidarity with fellow dreamers.
We refuse to live in a world in which power matters more than human lives and transactions more than relationships. We refuse to live in a world where survival—”getting a job”—means increasing the wealth of our bosses. We refuse to live in a world, in a country that never outgrew slavery—only sublimated it to the point we don’t recognize it, because its whips and chains have been replaced by redlining and unaffordable healthcare, or else hidden in the prisons that warehouse the people of color once enchained out in the open. We refuse to live in a world that inevitably confers privilege to upper-class, straight, white men, as it does under the rule of capital and the perpetual indentured servitude of the oppressed. We refuse to live in a world where we are accountable to anyone other than our interdependent equals. We refuse to live in a world where we are anything other than absolutely free.
Live your desires. Join us. This world is ours—all of ours—and don’t let them tell you anything different. We will build it together.
In solidarity with you in your own struggles,
Occupiers of Seattle