A few months ago we profiled the anarchists community in Chapel Hill. Lynda-Marie Taurasi wrote the story. I took pictures at the anarchists book fair at the Nighlight on Rosemary Street. At least four times people came up to me and told me not to take their pictures or asked me if I had permission to take pictures.
On Monday, the day after anarchists and others protested against the Greenbridge condominiums, we sent reporter Katelyn Ferral to the Orange County courthouse to try to talk with the three people who were arrested. Two declined to be interviewed, and the third left before she could ask.
On Tuesday I went to the Internationalist and asked Mike and Ichabod at the front desk if they could help us contact the arrested protesters. (I had already called the one who gave police a phone number and left a message.) I told them we wanted to be fair as we cover the story and represent all sides. (See today's N&O story here.) They were polite, said the three people were probably reluctant to speak while they face felony charges, and took my cards with my work and cell phone numbers.
So there you go. No word from those arrested, no way to tell if they're anarchists, except for the one protester, Brian Dingledine, with a Wikipedia link, and no real understanding why they did what they did. Except for their statement released at the protest, posted in its entirety below.
OCCUPY THE OCCUPIERS!
We're here to express our rage about the displacement of renters from Northside. Greenbridge has been instrumental in causing property values in the neighborhood to skyrocket; families and households have been forced out as investors like Engelhardt Ventures buy up all the property. This demonstration is the latest chapter in a narrative that has included public opposition, a boycott campaign, posters, graffiti, and more.
In the midst of a nationwide housing crisis, it is especially ironic that so many tenants have had to leave their homes on account of a development that remains mostly empty. This shows how the system of property rights prioritizes capitalist investment over the human beings it affects.
Well-behaved citizens will object that we are disturbing the peace. Have they so much as batted an eye as families have been forced out of this community?
Developers will charge that not all of us live in Northside. But they can bring in investors and wealthy homebuyers from the other side of the country to finance the developments that make it impossible for us to live here.
Property owners will object that this is private property. But before this was a high-rise gated community defended by key cards and security guards, it was the church that hosted the charter school, the Ethiopian restaurant. This space used to be a part of our community; now the wealthy have stolen it from us.
Politicians will insist that we should focus on bureaucratic reforms when the solution is obvious: the displaced should be permitted to move into the empty units in Greenbridge itself.
This isn’t just about Northside. The displacement of renters from Northside is a microcosm of the story of all the service workers and poor people in Chapel Hill. We are constantly being forced to relocate, working in town but commuting from Durham or the country. This makes it impossible for us to maintain ties and stand up for ourselves together; it means that the privilege of being a recognizable community with legitimate interests is reserved for the property-owning middle class.
This protest is the only meaningful alternative we have to being silenced and written out of history. Against landlords and developers - Occupy the occupiers!