On December 17 and 18, demonstrators in Oregon and Washington shut down two Amazon warehouses and a construction site in order to impose consequences for Amazon’s complicity in the genocide in Gaza and the destruction that it is wreaking on the natural world. This is the latest of a series of solidarity actions in the region and across the West Coast, showing how effective leaderless organizing can be.
On December 17, demonstrators in Lacey, Washington shut down an Amazon fulfillment center. A participant describes this action in full in the report below. Another report from the action appears here.
The following morning, on December 18, demonstrators disrupted work at an Amazon-owned construction site in southern Oregon in order to express solidarity with Palestinians. They entered the construction site on Table Rock Road in Central Point, where Amazon is attempting to build a massive warehouse and ground distribution facility. To call attention to Amazon’s financial relationship with the Israeli government, participants carried banners reading “Free Palestine,” “Amazon Profits Off Genocide,” and “Los Pueblos Unidos Jamás Serán Vencidos” [“The people, united, will never be defeated”]. They distributed fliers in both English and Spanish explaining the action. One of their ambitions was to show that even rural communities and small towns can take action, as there are targets everywhere. Wherever you live, there is likely an Amazon warehouse not far away.
Elsewhere, that same day, ecological activists blockaded an Amazon warehouse in Seattle, Washington using a tripod and lockdowns, seeking to draw attention to the considerable damage that Amazon is inflicting on the biosphere.
It is also worth mentioning that a couple days earlier, on December 15, people in New York City coordinated a mass walkout targeting Whole Foods in solidarity with Palestine. It just so happens that Whole Foods is a subsidiary of Amazon.
This series of autonomous actions shows how decentralized efforts can nonetheless strike interrelated targets consistently, demonstrating a reproducible model that can spread more widely and unpredictably than any single organization could coordinate.
Report from Lacey, Washington
On Sunday afternoon, over fifty people gathered in Lacey, Washington to shut down an Amazon fulfillment center and halt the flow of delivery trucks. Amazon is the technological backbone of the Israeli apartheid regime—they have multi-billion dollar contracts providing cloud services and servers to the Israeli state, its police, and its military. The infrastructure that Amazon provides to them enables them to communicate, collect, analyze, and archive the data needed for expanding illegal settlements and repressing the Palestinian people. You can visit notechforapartheid.com to learn more about Amazon’s role in Israeli apartheid, as well as the role it plays in domestic terror through its contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and over 2000 police departments.
As people marched to the Amazon fulfillment center, they chanted “Amazon, you can’t hide, you profit from genocide!” and “Amazon, while you spy, Palestinian children die!” The protesters included a diverse range of people from numerous youths to a wide range of adults, some of whom were parents. As they arrived at the fulfillment center’s driveway, where Amazon trucks enter Hogum Bay Road Northeast, security guards were pulling the gate closed, having been notified of the group’s arrival. This only helped the protestors to fulfill their goal of stopping the flow of trucks.
For over two hours, the protesters blockaded the center’s truck entrance and exit, successfully disrupting Amazon’s business. At least three Amazon truck drivers honked and held up a fist expressing solidarity from inside the gates. Those gestures were reminiscent of the worker who walked off the job in solidarity with Palestine during an action at the port of Tacoma last month.
Other Amazon workers chatted with protesters through the gate, accepting fliers that explained the goals of the action. These displays of worker support confirm that a free Palestine is what the overwhelming majority of people want. As people in solidarity with Palestinians continue to educate each other, the idea of a free Palestine is becoming widely understood to mean more than the bare minimum of a permanent ceasefire, but rather, a decolonized Palestine free of Israeli occupation, in which land is returned to those from whom it was seized, so that Palestinians can live decent lives on their own terms. A significant obstacle to that goal is the greed of corporate executives and politicians who directly benefit from perpetual war and increasingly militarized societies. But through continued education, the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement, and sustained direct action efforts around the world, we are laying a path towards Palestinian liberation.
What took place outside of the gates of the Amazon warehouse embodied the joy at the core of a liberated world. People danced to amplified music, played soccer and Uno in the street, shared food, chalked messages on the ground, made art, and strengthened relationships built on shared values and a commitment to action.
Sunday’s action was an autonomous action: it was not led or sponsored by any specific organization. There were no action leaders or directives. The participants were encouraged to collaborate and act freely in pursuit of the common goal of shutting down the center. This type of action dissolves hierarchies, respects everyone’s right to free will, and encourages creativity and a diversity of tactics. This action came on the heels of an action in Olympia, Washington on Friday, December 15, at which 40 or more people marched into the RE/MAX office on Pacific Avenue to deliver a letter demanding that RE/MAX stop buying and selling real estate in occupied Palestinian territories.
Just after 4 pm on Sunday, the entire group left the fulfillment center, marched back to town, and dispersed. Law enforcement didn’t say a word to the demonstrators all day and carried out no arrests. The participants successfully wielded the power that lies in collective action: the power to stop business as usual, to occupy the streets, to play together, to create a better world without interference.
Let’s keep the pressure on Amazon and all the other companies that are complicit in the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Let’s continue to boycott their products. Withholding our money and calling out inhumane profiteering is effective. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the global boycott, divestment, sanctions [BDS] movement played a critical role in dismantling the South African apartheid regime. Visit bdsmovement.net to learn more about the movement to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.
The movement for the liberation of Palestinians must be expanded to include the liberation of all people, including those suffering atrocities in Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, and elsewhere. No one is free until we are all free. My humanity is tied to yours. Our humanity is tied to theirs.