May 8, 2020 Weekly Update

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Support Metro DC DSA here - all donations go directly to the chapter.

Help the rent strikers of Southern Towers feed their families! Donated funds will be distributed to those most in need through the tenant organizing committee.


UP FRONT

VOTE for the 2020-21 Steering Committee and several other member-directed items BY TONIGHT at 11:59 PM. See THE WEEKEND/SOON for a reminder about how easily you can get to your ballot and vote.

The May General Body Meeting for Metro DC DSA will take place virtually on Sunday, May 17 between 3 to 5 PM. Highlights include a talk on anti-racism and the socialist struggle from activist Bill Fletcher, and an introduction to the newly elected Steering Committee of Metro DC DSA.


THE WEEKEND

MDC DSA Election ends tonight (Friday, May 8) at 11:59 PM. Find your email from Opavote May 1 and VOTE for new steering committee, resolution on participatory budgeting and bylaw amendment to clarify rules for candidate endorsement. Want more info? See #2020-steering-election channel in Slack.

MDC DSA Ecosocialist Caucus tomorrow (Saturday, May 9). The Caucus will be providing updates on the No Pepco campaign, talk about accomplishments during the Earth Day to May Day actions with ShutdownDC, and continue our reading group. New and old members welcome!


BRIEFS

ALEXANDRIA RENT STRIKE UPDATE - Landlords in Rep. Don Beyer’s district (VA-08) haver prioritized their own profit over the wellbeing of their tenants. In response, those tenants are standing together. The tenants of Southern Towers in Alexandria have responded with: “No job? No rent.” Over the last six weeks, over 30,000,000 workers have become unemployed. Yet relief spending has focused on businesses, not workers. **That is why we must call on Rep. Don Beyer to support the tenants at Southern Towers and to support Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act. This bill would cancel rent for the duration of the crisis, thereby making all other measures to protect middle and working class families more effective.

Can you take a moment to contact Rep. Don Beyer and demand that he support tenants during this crisis? E-mail Beyer here using this template; or call (703) 658-5403 using this script.

ESSENTIAL READING: if you missed reading your personal May Day issue of the Washington Socialist last Friday (inboxes can be deceptive), fear not: it’s available on our website and includes a panopoly of essays summarizing the current electoral landscape, historical articles covering international workers day, local reporting, and more.

MARYLAND COMRADES, as you are aware, our comrades in the Great Baltimore chapter are in these parlous times Zoom-close, so you may be interested in a labor history reading group being launched there. Check it out here. It’s a good way to get to know our GBDSA comrades before they again become conceptually far-flung…

Yesterday, Washington City Paper published an article by Mitch Ryals titled, “The Case Against Janeese Lewis George, According to Critics and Skeptics.” Over the past few years, members of the Metro D.C. chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have helped elect candidates across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., and we are proud to have endorsed Janeese Lewis George for Ward 4 council member. This is not the first time MDC DSA has been painted as outside agitators, but we feel the need to respond given the enormous stakes of this election in the midst of a devastating public health crisis and worsening economic recession. You can read our full response here.
-MDC Steering Committee

News from NOVA Branch of MDC DSA: (NOVA) Migrant Justice Working Group meets Sunday, May 10th at 1 PM. Register here. We also have our next NOVA Branch Meeting on Thursday, May 21st at 7 PM. Info and registration can be found on the MDC DSA Meetup calendar item here. We highlighted fundraisers for two local allied organizations that are working directly with the undocumented community in NOVA and providing aid as we hit another month where unemployed workers cannot pay for rent or basic necessities. The third is a Navajo & Hopi Families relief fund – reservations and tribes across the country have been hit hard by this crisis in large part due to the decades of underfunding and neglect. Please consider pitching in:

Finally, for those interested, links to all of the videos we used (or planned to use) during the meeting can be found here:

-Alex H, NoVA secretary


MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR MAY AND BEYOND

Saturday, May 9 | 3:00 to 4:30 PM
MDC DSA Ecosocialist Caucus
We’ll give updates on our No Pepco campaign, talk about what we accomplished during the Earth Day to May Day actions with ShutdownDC, and continue our reading group. New and old members welcome! Virtual meeting.

Sunday, May 10 | 1:00 to 2:30 PM
NOVA Branch DSA 🌹 Migrant Justice Campaign
We continue our work on ending detention and raising pressure on officials to free detainees. Follow link for RSVP and access info.

Monday, May 11 | 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Socialist Night School: The FBI, Political Surveillance and Repression of Dissent
Session will cover the history of repression of dissent and the US left, focusing largely on the role of the FBI in conducting political surveillance. Conducted by chapter member Chip Gibbons.

Sunday, May 17 | 3:00 to 4:30 PM
MDC DSA General Body Meeting
Highlights include a talk on anti-racism and the socialist struggle from activist Bill Fletcher and an introduction to the newly elected Steering Committee of Metro DC DSA. Virtual meeting.

Thursday, May 21 | 7:00 PM
NOVA Branch DSA Organizing Meeting Our monthly NOVA DSA organizing and planning meeting. We will be welcoming new members and continue discussing planning for our current actions and campaigns as well as expanded efforts to connect with local groups. As always, we will address any current issues from our communities and allied organizations, including efforts against the alt-right.

Sunday, June 7 | 2:00 to 4:30 PM
MoCo DSA General Branch Meeting
Please join us for our June branch meeting via Zoom!


NATIONAL DSA ONLINE HIGHLIGHTS

Here’s the latest COVID-19 Bulletin #11 dated May 1.

Here’s a link to video of Part 1 of Jane McAlevey’s series on organizing, presented in three parts last year by national DSA. McAlevey’s most recent book is reviewed in The Nation; see Good Reads below.


EVENTS BY OUR ALLIES IN THE DMV

Friday, May 8 | 10:00 AM
MontCo/PG COPE legislative briefing
The MoCo/PGCo Committee on Political Education of the Metropolitan Washington Council will host a Legislative Briefing where the following elected officials will provide legislative updates related to Labor and COVID-19 from their purview.

Saturday, May 9 | 1:30 to 3:30 PM
Solving DC’s Housing Crisis during COVID & Beyond
Hosted by DC Grassroots Planning Coaliiton/Empower DC
The conversation will be moderated by Caitlin Cocilova of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and will feature panelists Shonta High, Roger Williams, Reginald Black, and Brianne Nadeau.

Wednesday, May 13 | 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Green Stimulus Bills
Presented by Greenbelt Climate Action Network
This month, we will explore the topic of a “Green Stimulus Plan” As a nation we are currently facing three converging crises: the COVID19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession; the climate emergency; and the extreme inequality in how this pandemic affects different populations. We will explore some proposals that climate and social policy experts have developed - a sort of “menu of solutions” - that would collectively comprise a Green Stimulus to meet these challenges.

Wednesday, May 13 | 8:00 to 9:00 PM
Everybody Votes:The State of Voting in Maryland
Multi-organizational confab on the changes made to the upcoming June 2 MD election, the impact these changes have on different groups of voters, and how to ensure you are able to exercise your right to vote.

Wednesday, May 13 | 4:00 PM
The System: Who Rigged It, How We Can Fix It
Webinar presented by Economic Policy Institute - Robert Reich discusses his new book of the same title. Regisration information in the title.

Wednesday, May 20 | 8:00 to 10:00 PM
Building the Peace Monument Teach-In
Join us for a free teach-in on “Building the Peace Movement.” Bring your questions and suggestions. We’ll hear briefly from a number of key speakers before moving into Q&A. Numerous sponsors for this event, including Code Pink and World Beyond War.


INFO ACCESS

WG and campaign leaders: the Friday AM Update is built throughout the week in a Google Doc that can be shared with you on request, as it is with other campaign leaders. To get edit access, contact us at thesocialist@mdcdsa.org or in our #publications Slack channel.

Like all our working groups, the Publications WG needs pitch-in from members: writing on subjects close to our socialist hearts (including what your WG/caucus/campaign has been doing or plans to do), editing, design, creating ‘zines and one-off flyers for our work, and doing website work to keep our MDC DSA profile on the new site dynamic. So fill out our contributor’s form and get involved with MDC DSA’s crucial communications activities – on your terms.

PUBLICATIONS SCHEDULE: May updates will be sent Fridays, May 15 and 22, and the June issue of the Washington Socialist will be published Friday, May 29 with an article deadline Saturday, May 23. As always, submissions are welcome at [thesocialist@mdcdsa.org]. We welcome all comments, questions, or observed issues with the new site from members; please send notices through the Red Desk or notify us in our #publications slack channel.

THE MDC DSA LANDSCAPE: MDC DSA is busy, active, and has a lot going on, so to speak. Keeping track of it can be difficult; but imporve your mental map of our socialist reach in the DMV by taking a look at our caucuses, working groups and campaigns.


COVID-19 NEWS

Click here to view our page dedicated to compiling local COVID-19 relief and resources links. We will begin collecting news and updates for COVID-19 relief and benefits specific news in this section of the Weekly Update.

April 29 - ReOpen DC has a survey available and is asking for input. A great way to make sure the city knows it needs to ensure its priorities lay with keeping the city’s workers safe.

May 5 - The DC government will distribute a total of $ 75,000 in sub-grant awards of up to $ 7,500 per grantee. The awards will be granted to District-based non-profits to directly support organizations with resetting, re-imagining and re-engaging their volunteers, in light of this recent public health emergency and its effects on their service delivery, outreach efforts.

May 6 - Although VA and MD have begun planning to scale back stay at home order, Mayor Bowser has noted that DC will stay under quarantine for longer. Mayor Bowser clarified that only after two weeks of declining cases will the city begin to consider lifiting the stay-at-home order.

May 6 - As of data released on May 6, 570 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19. Wards 4, 5, 7 and 8 have larger death rates relative to their percent of the District population. Wards 3, 5, 6 and 8 have a higher rate of COVID death relative to their attributed caseload. When broken down by race, COVID attributed deaths are concentrated among black residents - accounting for 79% of COVID related deaths.


GOOD READS

Why isn’t Trump benefiting from the COVID-19 emergency, as sometimes happens when there’s a systemwide threat? The NYT’s Tom Edsall notes “Over a much longer period, the threat level of infectious disease has influenced the type of governmental regime operating in a given society. A lower threat level favors contemporary liberal democracy, a higher threat level favors more dictatorial states.” So are “we” (collective) not taking the threat seriously enough to embrace Trump’s authoritarian tendencies? Read on.

State court systems are being deformed as they are overrun by greedy capitalists scouring the ruins for debtors, a new Pew study shows.

Radical geographer Mike Davis’s latest perspective on how we got here and what it will mean to recklessly reopen the consumer-driven economy. From the LA Progressive.

News blast from Collective Power Network, with articles from their publication, The Organizer. It includes our local comrade John G’s article, “How Did DSA Build Out of Bernie?” which has also been published in the May issue of the Washington Socialist.

Being passed around by members of the National Writers Union from The Guardian: “According to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive thinktank [sic], between 18 March and 22 April the wealth of America’s plutocrats grew 10.5%. After the last recession, it took over two years for total billionaire wealth to get back to the levels they enjoyed in 2007.”

This is the time to reconfigure work, says this article from The Atlantic – first for safety, then for good. It’s reprinted in Route Fifty, a daily letter for state and local governments.

E. Tammy Kim reviews Jane McAlevey’s latest book on “whole worker organizing” in The Nation: experience of a well-executed union campaign,” McAlevey writes, “helps workers understand, on their own, that their employer’s effect on their lives goes beyond assigning them to an overtime shift and preventing them from getting time with their family.” Whole worker organizing reveals “that their employer is part of a bigger system that is contributing to the failure of their kids’ schools, the rollback of anti-pollution and anti-gentrification laws, [and] the gross inequities of the tax system,” which is, in part, why the right has tried so hard to destroy unions.’

Sounding the alarm, Fox News discloses that AOC thinks capitalism sucks. Why can’t we get execellent coverage like this in the MSM?