Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle


By Mantak Singh

Members of United Auto Workers \[UAW\] 4121 rally for a strong contract.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – On March 29, United Auto Workers (UAW) 4121 held a rally in the quad of the University of Washington-Seattle campus to demand a strong contract. With over 1000 attendees at the rally, the UAW made clear that they will not abide by UW administration’s attacks on their healthcare, wages and their international workers.


By staff

Vigil outside Northwestern Detention Center. | Fight Back! News/staff

Tacoma, WA – On March 20, approximately 50 people gathered in front of the Northwest Detention Center as part of the 24/7 vigil currently being led by La Resistencia and Tsuru for Solidarity.


By staff

Protestors congregate on the stairs in front of a Seattle Police Department Building. They have signs reading slogans like “Jail Killer Cops” and “Justice for Jaahavi”

Seattle, WA – On March 16, a crowd of around 40 activists, organizers and community members marched around the King County prosecutor’s office. In February, King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion’s office declined to file charges against Seattle police officer Kevin Dave, who over a year ago struck and killed a student at a crosswalk with his car.


By Clio Jensen

Some of the victorious Homegrown strikers. | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – On Wednesday, March 13, Homegrown workers across Seattle voted 100-1 to ratify their contract, after a successful strike to win reinstatement for their fired coworker.

Homegrown workers at the sandwich company’s Redmond and Southcenter cafes have also officially ended their strike and returned to work after the reinstatement of union leader Sydney Lankford, who was fired illegally on October 30.

Last month, the company agreed to a deal that allowed Lankford to return to work with $10,000 in back pay. Her coworkers, who have been on strike for her reinstatement since October 30, have returned to work as well, with their heads held high. Southcenter Mall Homegrown workers are back to work as well, 80 days after joining the strike.


By Robert Engel

 Seattle rally demands justice for Jaahnavi Kandula.  | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA — On Friday, February 23, the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression held an emergency rally in front of Seattle's West Precinct police station. Two days before, the office of King County prosecutor Leesa Manion announced that they had decided not to prosecute SPD officer Kevin Dave who, over a year ago, struck and killed 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula with his patrol car while she was walking through a crosswalk.


By Vicki Amole

Seattle protest stands with Palestine. | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – A crowd gathered around Seattle's World Trade Center for a February 9 protest against the U.S.-backed genocide in Palestine.

Chants of “Not another nickel! Not another dime! No more money for Israel's crimes!” could be heard not only from and within the building, but for blocks around. The protest called attention to the continued support of Israel's genocidal campaign by the U.S.


By staff

Homegrown workers on the picketline. | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – For the 106th day in a row, Redmond and Southcenter workers were out on the picket lines this past Sunday. The picket line covered the east entrance of the Westfield Southcenter mall, which holds the Southcenter Homegrown Cafe. The cafe has been closed since late November, when workers there walked out to join Redmond Homegrown workers on strike for their coworker’s reinstatement.


By Robert Engel

Seattle protest demands justice for Jaahnavi Kandula. | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – On Sunday, January 28, a crowd of community members led by the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression gathered on the steps of Seattle's West Precinct. The previous Tuesday, January 23, marked one full year since Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old student living in Seattle, was hit and killed at a crosswalk by Seattle Police Department Officer Kevin Dave.


By staff

Palestine solidarity protest in Seattle. | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – On Saturday, January 6, around 1000 activists and community members joined together for a rally and march that began at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Seattle in Capitol Hill. Starbucks has continued to attack its workers organizing unions across the company and attacked Starbucks Workers United for showing solidarity with the people of Palestine.


By staff

University of Washington students occupy administration building in support of  Palestine. | Fight Back! News/staff

Seattle, WA – On December 7, students at the University of Washington led an occupation of their administration building, Gerberding Hall.

Beginning in the Quad, students gathered for a march, with student groups joining together under the United Front for Palestinian Liberation at the University of Washington.

After arriving at the administration building, the sit-in was announced. Over 100 protesters entered the building. They announced their demands: to cut ties with Boeing; to end the repression of pro-Palestinian students, faculty and workers; and to materially divest from Israel.

Alon Lapid, a member of Students United For Palestinian Equality and Return, said, “For the last eight weeks we have been organizing on campus for an end to the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. Even here we are facing immense repression just for holding actions, just for speaking on social media, just for advocating for the just right of return.” Militant actions have been held on campus including vigils, marches and rallies, though the only response from administration was to send an email to the student body denouncing disruptive actions.

As the students entered the building, they rushed into the third-floor lobby in front of the administration's offices and pushed into the offices of the vice provosts. During this time UW President Ana Marie Cauce’s chief of staff, Margaret Shepherd, scrambled to address the protesters. After an extended period of time, she told students that they would only get a meeting with the university president if they vacated the premises immediately. Further, she threatened to give them citations for trespassing if they remained in the building past 5:15 p.m.

During the occupation, the police immediately escalated. They stationed officers by every single entrance and tried to prevent anyone from entering the building. Shortly after the arrival of the police, Doug Schulz, a police lieutenant employed by the UWPD, shoved to the ground a person who was getting food from the outside.

Later during the occupation, the police chief and chief of staff entered the offices and tried to remove a Black student from an office chair. Craig Wilson, the police chief of the UWPD, whispered threats in their ear including, “You don’t want to be the Black student that’s arrested.” However, after five minutes of the crowd chanting “Shame on you!” and moving closer, and having people edge their way between the police chief and the student, the police chief and his lackeys left the room to the cheers of the students.

On the outside, about 60 people remained throughout the day despite the rain, with speeches about combatting state repression, praising the resistance of the Palestinian people, and a virtual speech by Husam Marajda, the co-founder of the US Palestinian Communities Network.

During this rally, Oviya Krishnan, a member of South Asians Resisting Imperialism said, “We refuse business as usual, we refuse to be ‘burnt out’, and we refuse this institution’s complacency in genocide!” She said this while speaking out of a window to the crowd outside, refusing to give up her place in the historic sit-in.

The crowd gathered food and other supplies for the sit-in. Several times throughout the afternoon, food was lifted in through a window.

As the deadline of 5 p.m. approached, the growing crowd became more militant, and prepared to respond if arrests were made.

The community beyond the University of Washington came to support the sit-in, including high school students, community activists, and rank-and-file union organizers. Yerusalem Kamara of Nathan Hale High School SDS spoke on the importance of student organizing, saying “I was knee-deep in collaborating with my school’s MSA to organize a walkout advocating for Palestine. It was an eye-opener to the potency of student-led movements. This wasn’t just some casual event: we spent days planning for it.”

By 5 p.m., the administration began to warn the protesters that they were about to call in the University of Washington Police Department. By the time UWPD officially announced their intent to begin detaining protesters, there were 36 people remaining. However, despite warnings of dispersal at 5:15 p.m., police arrived about an hour later. The police’s threats were drowned out among chants of “SPD, KKK, IDF, you’re all the same!”

As UWPD dragged students out of the building, several protesters faced obvious abuse as they were thrown headfirst into the ground, while others saw bruises and injuries on their shins and hands after their encounters.

Mantak Singh of the Progressive Student Union, a chapter of New Students For A Democratic Society, said, “I was dragged out of there, and pushed face first onto the ground, because you know what, they don’t have the capacity to deal with us, they don’t have the manpower to drag 30 students into jail, and they don’t have the willpower to fight a people’s movement.”

During the process of dragging students out, police isolated and tried to intimidate each student individually. Police illegally searched students by emptying their pockets and going through their wallets, phones, and other belongings. They told a female student, “you’re quite the celebrity”, angry at the crowd supporting her, as they moved her away from the crowd to an empty hallway with only another male cop for an hour.

While police attempted to throw students out of the building, students blocked every entrance, prolonging the occupation, essentially, leading rallies at every entrance. Police then threatened the crowd with kidnapping charges, claiming they were forcing the protesters inside the building to remain there, despite the protesters trying to stay and police dragging them out. Police gathered at the edges of the rallies, with 20 riot cops on the other side of Red Square from the front entrance.

Each protester being processed and removed took anywhere between ten to 30 minutes in between, due to the coordinated response from the rally outside to barricade the doors. At 9 p.m., the police began to drag protesters out faster and faster, but the energy and motivation among the protesters still occupying remained high and chants continued, with “Every time the media lies, another child in Gaza dies!” and “Resistance is justified when people are occupied!”

As protesters left the building after being forcefully removed, they received applause and cheers, along with food and water. One of the protesters, Robert Engel, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, spoke about UWPD’s abuse, saying “The people’s movements in Seattle are strong and the police know it! They're afraid of us and we won't stop and that's why we can't lose!”

The December 7 occupation echoed the historic 1968 Black Student Union sit-in at the same building that secured increased enrollment, the Office of Minority Affairs, and ethnic studies at the University of Washington.

With the administration trying to ignore the demands and respond with police repression, actions at the University of Washington will continue in the future, as part of a growing national student movement for the liberation of Palestine.

#SeattleWA #International #Palestine #AntiWar #StudentMovement #SDS #FRSO #USPCN