By J. Gabriel WareJames Trimarco for Yes! Magazine – The movement to stop the controversial Dakota Access pipeline through financial activism took an important step forward today, as the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve a bill that terminates a valuable city contract with Wells Fargo. The bank, one of the largest in the United States, has provided more than $450 million in credit to the companies building the pipeline. The move makes Seattle the first city to divest from a financial institution because of its role in the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion project that would run from western North Dakota to Illinois, and is fiercely opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Wells Fargo is one of 17 banks directly financing the project.
By Emma Niles for Truth Dig – Council Bill 118883 was proposed by Kshama Sawant, the only socialist member currently sitting on Seattle’s City Council. “If Seattle divests from Wells Fargo, it will greatly fuel the inspiring nationwide struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline and the oil lobby,” Sawant said at a rally prior to Wednesday’s vote. “I urge council members to support this legislation as part of Seattle’s fightback against Trump and the billionaire class.” The legislation passed the finance committee Wednesday and, according to Sawant, will go to Seattle’s full City Council for a vote on Feb. 6. Still, many saw Wednesday’s vote as a decisive victory.
By Staff of Twin Cities GDC – On the evening of Friday, January 20th, a comrade of ours was shot in the stomach in the most public place on the University of Washington’s campus in Seattle – a place called “Red Square” for the color of its bricks rather than its politics. This Fellow Worker (what members of the IWW call ourselves) and Defender (for GDC members) is a longtime anti-fascist and dedicated activist, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and the General Defense Committee of the IWW. He’s currently in critical condition at Harborview Hospital in Seattle. They have a Level One Trauma center, so it’s likely he is receiving the best quality care available, for which we are deeply grateful.
By Amanda Froelich for True Activist – A few weeks ago, actress and activist Susan Sarandon made headlines when she asked supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe – who are protesting the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) – to pull their money out of the banks which are invested in its development. “Water protectors”, who have been camped out near Cannon Ball, ND, since April, argue that the controversial DAPL will uproot sacred burial ground and potentially contaminate the Missouri River. In addition, they maintain that the land is rightfully theirs due to an 1851 treaty which was never revoked.
By Michelle Farber for Socialist Worker – RENEE DAVIS, a 23-year-old Native American mother of three young children and five months pregnant, was reaching out for help. On Friday, October 21, she sent a text message to a friend saying she was “in a bad way” and needed help with her severe depression. Instead of finding that help, the young mother was shot to death by a King County sheriff’s deputy at her home on Muckleshoot tribal lands, some 20 miles southeast of Seattle.
By Sarah Harvard for Identities Mic – On Wednesday, 2,000 teachers in Seattle — alongside parents and students — wore Black Lives Matter shirts to protest against police brutality and promote racial equity, the Associated Press and KING 5 News report. Teachers organizing the #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool event told AP they held discussions about institutional racism and black history and used the event to rally people together. A Seattle Public Schools spokesman said in a statement that the district supported the teachers’ efforts and said it supports their First Amendment rights.
For Cristian Farias for The Huffington Post – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a sweeping constitutional challenge to Seattle’s minimum wage law, in what could have been a test case for future legal attacks on similar measures across the country. In a one-line order, the justices declined to hear a case by the International Franchise Association and a group of Seattle franchisees, which had said in court papers that the city’s gradual wage increase to $15 discriminates against them in a way that violates the Constitution’s commerce clause.
By Elizabeth Preza for Alternet. Seattle, WA – Police in Seattle arrested nine people Sunday after a peaceful May Day march morphed into a riot, with “anti-capitalist” protestors throwing rocks, flares and Molotov cocktails at police. The Seattle Police Department said violence rose out of a peaceful march for workers’ rights and immigration that took place earlier in the day. At least five officers were injured, including one who was hit with a Molotov cocktail, another who was struck in the face with a rock, and a third who was bitten by a protestor. May 1st protests have been increasingly co-opted by anarchists who use the demonstrations to rally against police violence and capitalism.
By Lorraine Chow for EcoWatch. Seattle joins the growing list of cities in the American West that has slapped Monsanto with a PCB lawsuit. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, is a highly toxic chemical that the company manufactured decades ago. The complaint, filed on Monday with the U.S. District Court in Seattle, alleges that Monsanto knew that the chemicals were polluting the environment and causing harm to people and wildlife, said Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. Monsanto has faced a spate of PCB contamination lawsuits over the decades and several this year alone. In 2015, the cities of Spokane, San Diego, San Jose and Oakland also sued the company over PCB-contaminated sites. It has been reported that Monsanto allegedly knew that PCBs were toxic well before the 1979 ban but continued production of the profitable compound anyway. Think Progress reported: “In a 1970 internal memo, agrochemical giant Monsanto alerted its development committee to a problem: Polychlorinated Biphenyls—known as PCBs—had been shown to be a highly toxic pollutant.”
By Luke for DC Indy Media. Below is a month-by-month video review of activism, primarily in the Washington, DC region. If you think there are no protests in DC this video will disabuse of that thought. In fact, it was a busy year of protests on a wide range of issues. If these videos were shown on the commercial media or covered regularly by the corporate press it would look like the United States was in revolt. Luke who made the video is based in DC but he cannot cover all the protests that go on here. For example, few protests inside of Congress are included in this video, even though there have been many. Highlights of the past year include Black Lives Matter, the Baltimore Uprising, the TPP, the Pope, the climate protests and more. Below the video is a list of the protests covered by Luke, a DC independent media maker. Luke is primarily covering DC-area protests. In reality, many cities across the country have regular protests on the economy, climate, racism, wars, low wages and more. In the last couple of years as pipelines and other carbon infrastructure is being put in place we are also seeing protests outside of urban areas. When we are in the midst of the struggle, even if we are aware of many protests, we often can still not see how active the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice is.
By Nathan Wallman for US Uncut – The city of Seattle is trying to pass an initiative that gives average voters the power to compete with big money in finance. I-122, nicknamed “Honest Elections Seattle” will provide voters with four $25 “Democracy Vouchers” which they can use to support the candidates of their choice. (Paid for by a small property tax increase of about $0.019 per $1,000 of assessed property value.) I-122 would further limit big money interests by imposing spending caps and cash contribution limits on the city’s campaigns. “Seattle is taking a stance, and we’re saying enough is enough,” Sonny Nguyen told King5.com. “We’re taking the city back, we’re taking the game back and it’s ours.”
By Jesse Hagopian in Diane Ravitch – On Sunday evening, thousands of Seattle Education Association members gathered in a general membership meeting and voted to approve a new contract with the Seattle Public Schools. This vote officially ended the strike by Seattle educators, which began on September 10, 2015, and interrupted the first five days of school. This new contract contains many hard fought wins for social justice that the school district said it would never grant. These groundbreaking victories are against the abuses of high-stakes standardized testing, for more recess, and for race and equity teams in the schools are a dramatic departure from our pervious broken model of collective bargaining and hold the potential to transform educator unionism in the nation.
After four months of negotiations, a five-day strike and one final all-night talk, the Seattle teachers union and Seattle Public Schools reached a tentative contract agreement early Tuesday, and school is scheduled to start Thursday for the city’s 53,000 students. By Paige Cornwell and Walker Orenstein In Seattle Times – The Seattle Education Association’s board of directors and its elected building representatives both voted Tuesday afternoon to suspend the strike, recommending the union’s membership approve the deal. The agreement will go to a full vote of the union’s 5,000 members at a Sunday meeting. The building-representative vote came after hours of deliberation, where cheers and fervent discussion could be heard outside a packed room at the Machinists Hall in South Seattle.
By Sara Jones in Seattle Eater – This past Sunday, conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute reported that 1,300 Seattle restaurant jobs were lost between January to June of this year, the largest number lost in that span since the Great Recession of 2009. It uses this “negative effect” to make the bold suggestion that Seattle’s new minimum wage law is “getting off to a pretty bad start.” Eater dug deeper into the data that AEI used and pulled out some other statistics you may want to consider before coming to a conclusion about the new law. For starters, while reporting the loss of 1,300 jobs from January to June, AEI fails to note that employment actually increased by 800 people from May to June, leaving the overall industry employment just 200 people short of levels when the first wage hike went into effect on April 1.