We Asked Seattle Politicians to Respond to Activist Omari Tahir-Garrett's Anti-Semitic and Anti-Asian Remarks

Comments

1
So the only CM to call out the statement was CM Brugress. Why are we ok with the weak statements the other CM's made?

Also sorry Sydney for having to deal with all this.
3
Classic conflict, Jewish small business owner in the 'hood stubbornly defends his right to be there making a nickel against the growing outrage and aggression of the local community. Long narrative of oppression underwriting both sides way of being in the situation. So what ought we think when there's no obvious armored horse upon which to parade the outrage born of our knightly empathy? I'm hearing a lot of "now now let's just cool it guys" from the concerno-progs. Grow a spine. It's 2017, and spouting wildly rascist invective at a Jewish person is fucking awful. Giving this same exact mindset that, collectivized, led to the insane horror of ths holocaust a well-he's-old-and-will-be-gone-soon pass because it's coming black activist is an utter and total act if cowardice. Shame on every member of the city council who didn't strongly denounce this racism; shame on every Stranger journalist hemming and hawwing on the sideline. If as liberal progressives you aren't against this strongly and without reservation then you're not in anyway really principled but opportunistic poseurs, leaping in to throw a heroic sucker punch only when you're totally certain there's no way you take the slighted bit of damage.
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@3
Part of the irony is that Eisenberg GREW UP in the neighborhood.
CD was a Jewish area before it was Black.
6
Good for you Sydney!
7
"How can we call for concern for our historical trauma & not recognize when a leader in our movement has traumatized others?"

The problem here is that some people consider Omari to be a leader of anything. He's just an elderly mentally-ill troublemaker with violence issues. He's been like this for years and years.
He's only a "leader" if you follow him.
8
Ever since he physically assaulted Mayor Schell, I've thought Mr. Tahir-Garrett was 'unhinged'. His most recent comments only serve to confirm that suspicion.

Sadly, it appears he is also a racist.
9
@2 really!? The second two condemned abstract hate, neither referenced the actual people or incident.
10
Name the names dont just repeat it on twitter.alot of seattle activist need to be taken down a peg. And we all know Wyking does and believes the same shit as his pa so start picking at that poisoning scab please.
11
I think Wyking's response is pretty fucking good considering it concerns his DAD. Give a kid a break.

Also, the fact that the Stranger has now dedicated THREE POSTS to a neighborhood crank spewing racist remarks, which is literally Not News, is unfortunately, exactly why it's a bummer that Omari is always front and center at these things. Eisenberg does pull shit and isn't a great neighbor. 23rd and Union is a flashpoint for a REASON. Omari is a Get Off My Lawn Guy and nothing else, but he's loud, so let's not talk about the real issues here, like the endless Bangasser dramas, the absolute shit handling of the 23rd road work by the City, or any actual issues, let's just focus on Grandpa Simpson. For three full days.
12
@#11 I live down the street and Ike's is a FAR better neighbor than Omari ever was.

I won't miss him living in his giant trashpile and I'm glad that his age will hopefully impair his ability to physically hurt people as he's done in the past.

Omari's all talk these days, thankfully.
13
@11 The stranger has covered the road work on 23rd plenty.
14
Part of the irony is that the Jewish man in question, Ira Eisenberg, who grew up in the CD, which, thanks to redlining, used to be one of the few places in Seattle where Jews and black people could own property, has accumulated a great deal of wealth selling pot in the CD and White Center, where low low income people, many of them POC, used to get sent to prison for peddling drugs on the street and are now getting displaced by rampant gentrification. Eisenberg is himself a developer, is in cahoots with white people who own the entire block on which Uncle Ike's as well as several black businesses stand, and stands to make even more money selling pot if the CD is further gentrified. These white landlords are seeking a developer to buy this block for tens of millions of dollars, and when that happens, the black businesses will be given eviction notices just as surely as Omari Garrett of the Umoja Peace Center and Wyking Garrett of Black Dot, a black business and cultural incubator, received them. The conversion of this land to glitzy glass and steel retail venues with several floors of posh apartments on top is the issue that Omari Garrett coulda, shoulda, woulda pointed to if he hadn't allowed himself to be baited by Eisenberg into spewing his longstanding and quite deplorable anti-Semitism. It is shocking to learn that Omari made a racist verbal attack on Cheryl Chow, a respected and beloved leader in the Asian community. There is no getting around the fact that Omari has fucked up bigly multiple times, and should apologize. It is flat out depressing to see disadvantaged groups fighting each other, but the developers are loving it as they wait in the wings salivating to have their way with the 23rd and Union block.

The final irony is that the City of Seattle has proclaimed the CD To be the "Central Area Arts and Cultural District" but has zero interest in buying and developing this property itself in order to create community gathering spaces, a continuing haven for black businesses, and a generous allotment of affordable housing--at least 25%--instead of the city's miserly 2% affordable housing housing requirement for the elite enclaves it is upzoning Downtown, in Belltown and in South Lake Union. Over 80% of the residents of the CD are already white, compared to just 20% ~20 years ago. If the CD stays on its present trajectory it won't be very affordabable or liveable to anyone except rich people in the not too distant future. Will the last black person to leave the CD please turn out the lights.
15
@14 Nice job assuming that black folks can't afford the expensive new housing. Racist much?
16
The real story is Seattle's cowardice in refusing to call a racist spade a racist spade.
17
As someone who feels real solidarity with the anti-displacement contingent of Seattle's left, and as someone with a deeply intersectional identity of my own, it really disappoints me to see leadership of this movement fail to live by the intersectional principles we very rightly promote by failing to call out actions like this as completely unacceptable and fundamentally incompatible with the movement. Intersectionality is hard precisely because it means a longtime activist and supporter of the black community can also possess deeply internalized racist notions of their own which ultimately leave them unfit to lead the movement they may have worked long and hard to build. Interestingly, Nikkita Oliver, who is also a part of this movement, probably worded it best over the weekend, so I'm going to just go ahead and quote part of her speech back:

"Yes, we are the resistance, but we also must work on finding ways in which we ourselves know where we have not been resistant to the social ills that we were all been born into and that with that comes a duty to unearth and uproot those social ills within ourselves… Audrey Lord said there is no single issue struggle because we are not single issue people, and privilege is an incredibly blinding force which can convince us that a battle is not ours to fight, and can convince us that we are not part of the problem, and can convince us to overlook the role we play in the greater story, so we need to treat our identities [as] intersectional… and the first step to our effective resistance is knowing ourselves. How can we challenge the enemy outside of us if we haven’t figured out what the enemy is inside of us?... If we don’t all get free, we aren’t free. It is my belief that a resistant Seattle will question all forms of privilege and oppression unabashedly and unapologetically."

I truly believe in these principles, and it's because of that that I know this movement has no hope of succeeding if we cannot unabashedly and unapologetically reject the actions of Omari Tahir-Garrett and admit that any unified left has likely outlived and evolved past his ability to help lead it in any reasonable or effective manner.
18
#14 How am I a developer? What have I actually developed besides the pot shop building? How do you figure I own the whole block where Ike's is? I wish I did but sadly it isn't so.
19
Well I rarely say this, but good for Tim Burgess.
20
Black activists demand that we just excuse explicit racism and anti-Semitism among their ranks because black people have had it worse? Wish I could be surprised.
21
x-post from reddit, but my comment is relevant here too:

I used to work as a notary in real estate, witnessing Purchase/Sales and refi's, during the last bubble. Times were hot in the CD back then, and I was doing a lot of work around there. I remember doing several houses (5-6) where a white person/family were buying a house from an older black person, and in a couple of those houses there were generations of family living with a Matriarch. I specifically remember this one lady signing the docs and her kids were pissed off she was selling. I asked her if everything was OK, and she smiled at me and said something to the effect of "they're just mad I'm taking my money and moving back to Mississippi, I've spent my life taking care of these kids and I'm using this money to retire."
I talked to probably a dozen black owners in the CD, over a 2 year period, happy to cash out for a profit of 200-400k on a house they bought 20-30 years ago for a fraction of the price. As is their right. That kind of profit taking can lift up a person and give them a new life, and it's the other side of gentrification that rarely gets talked about.
22
@14 I would have a much more sympathetic ear to the CD activists if they would only talk about their situation in a truthful way when it comes to the mechanisms of gentrification. No one has been or will be "illegally evicted". Lease terms expire and don't get renewed because the owners of the property get to decide how the land gets used, but they have to fulfill their legal obligation to respect those contracts. And they have respected them, in every case.

The Black Dot never had a lease on the space. They had "an understanding" that they got to use the space for free until the developers needed it back. Now its suddenly this huge tragedy that they need to find another free space? And instead of thanking the owners for the free use of time and space, they make them their enemy.

The Umoja Peace Center had not paid rent for 7 years. All it would take is for the community to come together and group fund these community spaces and turn it into something positive. But as it stands now, the stance of the activists is that all of these private, minority focused businesses should be given free space for all of eternity, and the private property owners that happened to let them open their businesses there must take on that burden by themselves. It's so childish. Can we not talk about gentrification like adults? I'm not even diametrically opposed to the activists, I just want to talk about the actual reality of the situation and give it the serious attention it deserves.
23
Hate speech is hate speech. But, what disturbs me (as a Jewish person of color) the most about the video is that it exists in the first place. I find it extremely disrespectful that an elder would be treated that way, provoked to the point of saying something hateful, filmed and then blasted by the media for it. I think of my own white Jewish grandfather, who grew up in Detroit in the 1930s and 1940s when it was one of the most racialized, segregated places to grow up. He remembers the race riots that would occur when his friends would invite him and his brothers to go out and "fight the n-words." As he grew up he disavowed this kind of bigotry, but because it was part of his socialization as a child there is no way he could completely forget it. Then in his elderly age some of these filters that he had developed in his adulthood began to come down and I heard him say some off-hand racist stuff. It was hurtful, but I also knew that it wasn't the defining characteristic of his life. But if someone had provoked him in his elderly age on the street, and then filmed the comment and spread it out to the local media - I would be outraged. That level of disrespect for an elder is not part of the Jewish values that I was raised with. So, like I said - hate speech is hate speech, but let's not let it distract us from the systemic racism that is causing displacement in the central district, and let's not let Eisenberg off the hook from his role in perpetuating harm on the individual and structural levels.
24
It's mental gymnastics involved in defending this man with a long, documented history of racist taunts, threats of violence, and actual assaults on other members of our community are fascinating. And by "fascinating", what I really mean is, "fucking pathetic".
25
Funny stuff. The Seattle Times has a lot to say about Ira Eisenberg's sleazy background, but the progressive, alternative Stranger promotes him as a fine upstanding citizen. I hope you get a response from Mayor Blow Job before his legal problems force him out of office. Maybe he can work in Eisenberg's pot shop! And let's not mention the fact that Cheryl Chow's mother, Ruby, was one of Seattle's most notorious racists. Come to think of it, Cheryl wasn't exactly a class act herself. Sure was noble of her to come out of the closet a few days before she died, though! Keep up the good work. It's this kind of fodder that helps The Stranger maintain its reputation as a humorous porno tabloid!
26
@ blackburd - If you consider Paul Schell a member of "our community," then you aren't a member of my community.