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Local Community Rallies to Provide Safe Housing for Survivors of Police Violence

Imagine how you would feel if your child was shot in the back by a city employee. Imagine the fear, anger, and disillusionment of learning that a police officer, whose job is to protect people, has shot and disabled two of your children. How would you expect your community to respond? What would justice look like for you and your children? What would you be willing to do to support others who have survived this violence?

These are the questions we are asking ourselves as we witness the construction of a Cop City in Lacey, and as we approach the nine year anniversary of the shooting of unarmed Black brothers André Thompson and Bryson Chaplin. How is it that our community has endless resources to support state violence, and none to support those on the receiving end of that violence? The ABC Reparations Housing Campaign aims to do what our community institutions have not: provide concrete resources and support to heal and thrive.

André and Bryson’s mother Crystal Chaplin remembers May 21, 2015, the day her sons were shot by officer Ryan Donald, as the day everything changed.

“This changed everyone’s lives, my life and the entire family’s life. We had to endure the media and ignorant people making nasty comments, saying my sons must be thugs, gang members – plain ignorance on their part. My sons are sweet, loving guys with big hearts,”

wrote Crystal in an article in the BayView National Black Newspaper.

The city of Olympia has long claimed to be a community that cares for those who are most directly impacted by systems of oppression. During the summer of the George Floyd protests, the world awakened more profoundly to the realities of police violence. Mayor Selby even used the shooting of André Thompson and Bryson Chaplin as an example of racist police violence in our community, despite the reality that the Chaplin-Thompson family has never received any justice or recompense.

This kind of gaslighting, with the illusion of accountability on the part of our city government, is outrageous to many local progressives who see that the Chaplin-Thompson family are still struggling to recover with no institutional support almost a decade later. They have been repeatedly criminalized, discriminated against, and displaced. Meanwhile, officer Donald is still on the police force, despite numerous complaints against him, and his presence at multiple officer-involved deaths over the years. You can learn more about their justice struggle here.

A group of local organizers has stepped up to address what the Chaplin-Thompson family says is their number one priority at this point: safe, stable housing. If the community can raise the funds for them to purchase a home, that will not only begin to ameliorate the harm that our community institutions caused, it will demonstrate that Olympia cares about creating an anti-racist community where Black people feel welcome and safe. We are not okay with police violence, and we are not okay with the wealth gap between white families and families of color. (Homeownership is one of the main ways of accumulating wealth and passing it on to future generations.)

An Illustration representing members of the ABC Reparations Housing Campaign
Nomy Lamm

The ABC Reparations Housing Fund has partnered with the Anti Police-Terror Project, Olympia SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), and other organizations to raise $250,000 to purchase a house for the Chaplin-Thompson family. One strategy is asking people with safe stable housing to take a pledge to contribute the amount of one housing payment, either in installments, or by mobilizing resources from their own communities. Check out the pledge form for options and suggestions, it can be adapted to whatever folks’ circumstances are.

As Cornell West teaches, justice is what love looks like in public. This is one way that we can show our love and make a concrete difference in the lives of people who have been systematically targeted and disenfranchised.

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