The Ham Slam Pig Roast celebrates its third roast
This third of a series of Ham Slam Pig Roasts took place at Monroe Park on April 10.
When one hears “Ham Slam” it would be completely reasonable to think of grilling pork over a roaring fire with family and friends. The Willamette Valley Abolition Project has a unique approach to pig roasts, substituting local pork for local police with succulent roasts for powerful speeches made by community members.
The only pig truly present at this event—save for the few police vehicles seen observing the gathering — was the honorary pig pinata. Though no pig was present for consumption, nutrition was found in free pizza, drinks, and emotionally-rich presentations.
Several activist groups, both grassroots local and broad national, tabled at the event, sharing information via zines and mutual aid contacts in attendance. These groups stand in solidarity with the police reform and justice movement by way of their own social maneuvers.
One of the organizations present was the newly founded movement called Feed The Peoples Garden. ”We are a community garden for BIPOC members to build community together in Eugene,” spoke a leading organizer for the group, “Qu”.
Currently, the group hosts a number of garden plots and gatherings around Eugene for BIPOC individuals to learn about the power behind food cultivation. “We plan to have teach-ins on food sovereignty and land sovereignty, and just teach BIPOC people how to cultivate and grow their own food.”
The group aims to expand their numbers and influence completely money-free. Their motivations stem from remaining as sovereign as possible from a system they feel alienated from.
“It’s like we’re living in the system, but also freeing ourselves from the system,” Qu said.
Other organizations that were present shared similar motivations towards racial justice, protection, and general disarmament of violent government forces.
A Stop the Sweeps organizer emphasized the already insurmountable, and now growing, threat to the houseless community—especially BIPOC houseless—by law enforcement.
To combat the needlessly destructive and open-faced racist tactics of law enforcement, Stop the Sweeps and their allies have voiced support for the Right to Rest ACT, HB 2367.
In an open letter to the Judiciary Chair rep. Janelle Bynum, On April 5, 2021, the allies railed against the criminalization of houselessness.
Young Democrats of America busied themselves informing those in attendance about Universal Basic Income and the Chestnut Tree Project. Not far from their table, the Neighborhood Anarchist Collective provided both open dialogue and zines concerning a myriad of anti-establishment tactics and literature.
Another attendee was Eugene’s own Black Thistle Street Aid. This collection of qualified individuals work closely with Occupy Medical in an attempt to provide “healthcare for all.” Currently, all 13 of Black Thistle’s providers are either traditionally—i.e. western—medically certified, are herbal consultants or generally qualified in wellness checks and wound care.
Black Thistle provider, Mackenzie NiFlainn, spoke about the “street medics” tactics, saying, “We attend protests…have pop-up clinics, [and] have [pre-determined] walk zones in neighborhoods to check on homeless.”
The visits are regular, and organized. Consistent check-ins have proven to be effective in not only ensuring the well-being of the houseless, but also in encouraging first-name basis relationships between street providers and clients.
When asked about the measures Black Thistle takes for mental health, NiFlainn said, “Mental health providers and behavioral health providers are the widest gap.”
“We can provide some renewals on some prescriptions, beyond that, [we believe] having people meet them and check on them regularly is a [mental health] service.”
Black Thistle aims to expand in the future and provide an even greater girth of care for “those who have fallen through the cracks in the community.”
The heart and host of the event was the Willamette Valley Abolition Project, a support project calling for the total abolition of police, prisons, and racist/capitalist motivations built into the judicial system.
It’s safe to say WVAP has more than just “a” bone to pick with prisons, and are currently serving their goals through a multitude of measures.
Among these measures include hosting open events like the Ham Slams–public testimony of police abuse—sit-ins, letter-writing parties, and finding practical supply/help/support for those incarcerated or recently released.
Their practical effort at this Ham Slam was a call for backpack donations.
A group organizer commented on this effort, said, ”When someone gets out, we can provide them with a backpack of basic supplies.” This includes food, basic clothes, first aid kits and whatever else they can fit into the backpacks that would help.
The same organizer made a clear summary of WVAP’s ambitions, and said, “We want to create open space, share resources, and safe spaces for people to collectively say fuck the police, and fuck prisons.”
AND WHO CAN BLAME THEM
At the event, speakers made personal claims towards local police and their antagonistic measures towards BIPOC individuals.
One presenter gave a thorough “dressing down” of the Lane County Jail lack of COVID-19 protection and the response for those incarcerated. “There is mass prison injustice during these times. There have been 240 needlessly [covid] sick inmates…all totally preventable.”
Another BIPOC speaker shed further light on this issue — with knowledge from his own 84-month incarceration in Lane County.
Locked up for allegedly biting an officer whilst said officer was choking him, the presenter was stuck in “the hole” for two years, physical beat and shoved in what is called the “black box.”
Furthermore, the protections and health of those incarcerated were pathetically considered. “During the fires they evacuated the company to a known outbreak area. So many [prisoners] got sick.” said the presenter.
A local activist for affordable housing followed. They pointed out the misleading notions of the term “affordable housing” being used by far-from-affordable developers over town. “$1000 unfurnished studios are not ‘affordable housing’,” she stated, “That’s designed for people who make $39,000 a year.”
“We must vet the word ‘affordable housing’ and not encourage the further entrenching of white supremacy in our community,” she concluded.
What followed were a series of poems and testimonies from BIPOC individuals and their experiences within forced—and often racist—institutional interactions.
The touching recounts of lost loved ones to police violence and personal trauma from unprovoked supremacists emboldened the modest crowd. Once speeches met an end, many stayed to commune, connect, and beat the ever-loving lord out of the honorary pig in unity.
Save for an unrelated traffic spat between two intoxicated hippies on the nearby street, the event was entirely peaceful.