Students, workers — unite in our struggle against gentrification

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Photo Credit: Abriella Corker | Daily Texan Staff

On Sept. 12, 2019, The Daily Texan Editorial Staff released an editorial urging UT students to stand up against the ‘Domain on Riverside’ luxury development, which will be voted on at the city council this coming Thursday and threatens to displace thousands of students and workers living at the Quad, Ballpark North and Town Lake apartment complexes. 

As Defend Our Hoodz, the primary organization which has organized the resistance, we welcome this call from The Daily Texan and appreciate the information and the historical background of East Austin they shared.

But, we feel the editorial board glossed over a critical aspect of this struggle, primarily that students, workers and our organization have been on the ground for over a year and a half taking militant and confrontational action at great sacrifice. 

This work has not only forced the entire Austin community to take the project seriously as a massive act of displacement, but it has directly slowed down the development as well, much to the developers and city’s anger.

The city has responded to our militant action with full-on state repression. We have taken around 20 arrests over the course of the fight, mainly for the supposed “crime” of interrupting a public meeting. We are the public, and the reason they criminalize us is because we have clearly shown them that we will not play along with their empty process that only serves the ruling class.

State repression rears its ugly head whenever the people, particularly the working class and oppressed masses, fight back on their own terms, rather than the empty rules imposed on us by the ruling class. The Texan should not neglect their fellow students and the workers of Austin by failing to mention the repression that the city has carried out against us.

The Texan urges students to get involved but doesn’t specify with whom. As individuals, we cannot fight this capitalist state on our own. The people have to be organized long-term into formations that can last. 

We have such an organization — which we continually develop and adapt to our conditions — because we fight gentrification from the position that the only long-term solution is revolution, not integration into this capitalist system.

There are enough people tweeting out “email your representatives” or making petitions. We need more people out on the streets fighting this project tooth and nail by any means necessary. We have knocked on hundreds of doors, rallied out in the streets of East Riverside and protested at City Hall. 

We have confronted gentrifying arts nonprofits, city bureaucrats and the Mayor and Council. We have seen messages of defiance to the project painted on the walls of East Riverside and tenant grievances posted on the managers’ doors in the very apartment complexes facing destruction.

The streets and walls are the people’s microphone. This system will not hear our voices through polite requests. In fact, this system doesn’t serve us at all; it serves its ruling class bourgeoisie. City Council and the brutal cops serve their developer masters, not the people. 

The same council members that The Texan suggests you email have taken thousands of dollars in donations from the developers.

If you do email, shame council members for selling their souls. Tell them they have no business deciding what’s best for the community when they take developer money and help them push displacement projects. Tell them that you don’t support how they unleashed brutal cops on community members and anti-gentrification activists. But better yet, join the fight to confront council and their developer masters, offline and out in the community.

We live in a dying capitalist-imperialist state that does not serve the people or the international working class. Students must join long-term, revolutionary organizing and put working class politics at the forefront. 

Defend Our Hoodz is different from the people telling you to vote for another parasite, or to collaborate with racist, brutal cops, because we recognize this system is not legitimate and put that recognition into practice. We know that long term, only organized rebellion will get us closer to a world where the working class and oppressed masses — not capitalist exploiters — decide how our communities are built.

Defend Our Hoodz and Riverside residents will be rallying at City Hall on Thursday, starting at 6:30 p.m. While they have tried to scare us off, we will show up another time to let them know that no matter how they vote, we will militantly resist this luxury project that doesn’t serve students or the working class masses of East Riverside or Austin. 

The conclusion of this sham city process is not the end of the struggle by any means. Developers and sellout politicians are only creating more resistance every time they ignore the will of the people.

Students and workers of UT, East Riverside and the world -— unite to combat and resist gentrification!