May 29, 2020 Weekly Update

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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

George Floyd had not committed any crime when he was detained on Monday by Minneapolis police officers who subsequently used lethal restraint that ended his life. Police pinned him to the ground, kneeling on his neck for five minutes as Floyd cried out that he could not breathe, echoing the murder of Eric Garner by New York City police almost six years ago. Floyd’s name will now be added to the growing list of Black men and women who have been murdered by police.

Police violence no doubt exists in D.C. as well. Last November, D.C. police physically detained a 15-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother for selling food on the street, threatening to handcuff and separate the children from their parents despite the fact that they had not been charged with any crime. In the video, we hear the children screaming in fear as police officers brutally restrain them. Yet only a few weeks ago, the Democrats for Education Reform—a pro-charter school lobbying group—sent thousands of mailers to Ward 4 residents attacking Metro D.C. DSA-endorsed candidate Janeese Lewis George for her positions on criminal justice reform. In her candidate questionnaire, George stated: “We’re told the institution of policing is intended to protect all of us from some suspicious menace, but the fact is that crime is a public health problem, not a battle of military opponents. … The transformation of American police departments, especially the MPD, into military units trained to occupy the very communities promised protection is one of the greatest dangers to the future of urban life.” The murder of George Floyd makes the truth of this statement all the more clear.

As the rage in response to Floyd’s murder spilled over into local retail chains in Minneapolis, conservatives and liberals alike have already begun to bemoan the “violence” inflicted against their local Target and AutoZone. But MDC DSA Steering Committee member Peter Gowan reminds us that the only looting we should be condemning is that of “the Global South by Western militaries and multinational corporations…of homes and buildings by vulture capitalists…[and] the ongoing looting of local and state government welfare programs by a federal Republican party that wishes to see them destroyed.” The incalculable loss of George Floyd for his loved ones and his community can never be equivalent to the destruction of private property in response to injustice. Windows can be replaced; lives cannot.

The Democratic Socialists of America condemns the murder of George Floyd and calls on our members to help take action for justice. Here are a few ways to act:

  1. Donate to the bail fund. As arrests continue and the looming threat of Trump sending in the National Guard grows, community members need continued support to ensure their freedom. Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund here.
  2. Phone zap to demand justice. Support community members’ demands by calling on Minneapolis officials to file charges against the police officers involved in Floyd’s murder:

Governor Tim Waltz
(651) 201-3400

Mayor Jacob Frey
(612) 673-2100

County Attorney Mike Freeman
(612) 348-5550

We stand in solidarity with the Black community in Minneapolis and across the country in our struggle for justice and liberation. Metro D.C. DSA will continue to do all we can to keep our communities safe from police violence and to demand a better future for ourselves and all victims of oppression.


Few issues are more central to our work and to human needs than housing, a center against which many of our other issues are propped up. MDC DSA has done consistently valorous work on the issue in neighborhoods (Stomp Out Slumlords; Rent Control) and futures enterprises like the Grassroots Planning Coalition, which fights to keep DC’s planning rules pro-people and dampen landlord influence. NoVA and MoCo branches are equally engaged in this effort.

The pandemic has accelerated and periodized the permanent emergency; catastrophe looms regularly across whole communities with the first of every month. MDC DSA’s Stomp Out Slumlords campaign has kicked off its own blog, which features a fresh interview with tenant organizer Mariel Mendez. And the nascent blog is introduced with this account of SOS’s pandemic fueled activity:

There is no question that the pandemic has politicized ordinary people in DC, especially around questions of housing. Yet we shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that COVID-19 has created a revolutionary situation or that it has upended the power relations that were in place just a few months ago. That may yet happen, but for now we’re fighting a lopsided battle against viruses, landlords, bosses, and politicians. We are keenly aware of the risks of organizing in a “hot shop”: quick, spontaneous mobilizations in response to an emergency frequently lack structure and discipline and dissipate quickly in the face of sharp resistance or small concessions from the boss. The fundamental laws of organizing still apply, and we want to do things the right way even when it’s tempting to take shortcuts.

This is what the blog is for – a reflection on the full requirements of clear-headed organizing in a crisis.


THE WEEKEND AND UPCOMING

The primary elections in DC and Maryland are coming up June 2. Folks are still filling out their mail ballots. You can help elect socialists! See our Slack channels #janeese-wg and #mckayla2020 for details – also on-the-first-bounce chat and action on #bernie…


WASHINGTON SOCIALIST

In our June edition of the Washington Socialist:
“The Battle for Rent Control” collates the current battle-lines in the District’s fight for rent control and cancellation, reminding us there’s a rich history of struggle over shelter. Speaking of history: as a slew of new, unashamedly left candidates seek electoral power around the DMV, “Reflections -1983” recalls a time when a socialist and DSA member was once present and prominent in District leadership - a reminder that socialism is hardly novel, but revived. And “Communists at the Waterfront” explores the actions of past socialists – particularly, union workers’ early fights against racism and division promoted by merchant-marine fleet owners – and of our (often overlooked) comrades in Baltimore.

But really, all history is today. While we and the local left continue its all-hands electoral effort in Maryland and DC, national stakes are considered in “Bernie or Bust?” as “Soft Landing for the System Formerly Known as Capitalism” reconsiders the role and future of automation in a post-pandemic world. “Pixel Riot” explores the premier video game launched by a cooperatively owned media enterprise, and “Counter to the Planet of the Humans” pinpoints the shortcomings of Michael Moore’s newest climate documentary.

BRIEFS

Workers First Caravan on June 3rd. Please join working people from across the country for a national day of action on Wednesday, June 3. We are calling on all AFL-CIO bodies to organize events as a bold response to the COVID-19 crisis. You can join locally at the Capitol, 11 AM- 2 PM.

The caravan asserts America’s Five Economic Essentials:

  • Keep front-line workers safe and secure;
  • Keep workers employed and protect earned pension checks;
  • Keep state and local governments, our public schools and the U.S. Postal Service solvent and working;
  • Keep America healthy—protect and expand health insurance for all workers;
  • Keep America competitive—hire people to build infrastructure.

NoPEPCO Town Hall on Wednesday, June 10. Pepco is trying to raise electricity prices even though tens of thousands of DC residents are struggling to pay their bills due to COVID-19. And Pepco continues to block the clean energy transition we need to fix the climate crisis.

Join us for a digital town hall to discuss Pepco’s plans and explore alternatives that put our communities before Pepco’s profits. We’ll hear from DC neighbors suffering from the COVID-19 recession as well as energy policy experts who have ideas on how to improve our energy system. More details coming soon. Registration required.

Call for designers! Are you an illustrator, graphic designer, web designer? We are looking for members interested in using art and design to build democratic socialist power in the DC metro area. We want to empower members with design resources and skills to communicate DSA’s vision for democratic socialism and to connect creatives to projects and campaigns that build working class power. All mediums and skill levels welcome! Reach out at mdcdsadesign@gmail.com to find out how you can get involved and hear about potential projects!

“Lockdown? What lockdown? I don’t remember any lockdown,” say Giant and Safeway bosses DC DSA Labor Working Group’s Sam Nelson reports: “UFCW Local 400 is mobilizing to preserve the recognition pay that Giant and Safeway are paying, so sign and share please!


MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR MAY AND BEYOND

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

Wednesday, June 10 | 6:00 PM
NoPEPCO Town Hall
Join us for a digital town hall to discuss Pepco’s plans and explore alternatives that put our communities before Pepco’s profits. We’ll hear from DC neighbors suffering from the COVID-19 recession as well as energy policy experts who have ideas on how to improve our energy system. More details coming soon.

Sunday, June 14 | 3:00 PM
MDCDSA General Body Meeting

Thursday, June 18 | 7:00 PM
NOVA Branch DSA Organinizing Meeting
This meeting will be hosted remotely only. Please register in advance.


NATIONAL DSA ONLINE HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday, May 31 | 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Q&A about DSA
Are you interested in joining DSA? Are you curious what being an active Democratic Socialist Organizer looks like? Jump on this national call to meet DSA Leaders, explore what it means to be a DSA member, and ask questions about DSA and the movement we’re building. This is a national DSA Call. You must RSVP to receive Zoom info here.

Wednesday, Jun 10 | 9:00 PM
Q&A about DSA
Are you interested in joining DSA? Are you curious what being an active Democratic Socialist Organizer looks like? Jump on this call to meet DSA Leaders, explore what it means to be a DSA member, and ask questions about DSA and the movement we’re building.

INFO ACCESS

Navigate and explore the expanding MDC DSA website and its resources!

Getting through this unprecedented time requires information resources for mutual aid and for individual and collective relief – as well as for organizing as socialists, now and later. You can find them on mdcdsa.org

PUBLICATIONS SCHEDULE: You are reading the June issue of the Washington Socialist, our monthly newsletter. June Updates will be published Fridays, June 5, 12, 19 and 26 and the July issue of the Washington Socialist set to be published on Wednesday, July 1 with an article deadline of Thursday, June 25. 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.

Call for designers! Are you an illustrator, graphic designer, web designer? We are looking for members interested in using art and design to build democratic socialist power in the DC metro area. We want to empower members with design resources and skills to communicate DSA’s vision for democratic socialism and to connect creatives to projects and campaigns that build working class power. All mediums and skill levels welcome! Reach out at mdcdsadesign@gmail.com to find out how you can get involved and hear about potential projects!


EVENTS BY OUR ALLIES IN THE DMV

Friday, May 29 | 12:30 PM
Community Budget Forum with DC Fiscal Policy Institute
The Mayor recently released her budget and it’s more important now than ever for DC residents to have their say in how the city spends its funds. You will have the opportunity to learn all about DC’s budget process, hear how COVID-19 has impacted the city’s spending, and ask questions about the budgeting process.

Friday, May 29 | 1:00 PM to 1:30 PM
One Fair Wage Reimagining the Service Industry
In conversation with service professionals and Senator Cory Booker as we discuss both the crisis and the opportunity - and the potential for change.

Saturday, May 30 | 10:00 AM to Noon
Reversing Global Warming: Introduction to Drawdown
Registration required. Sponsors include PG Environmental Forum and College Park Committee for a Better Environment.

Saturday, May 30 | 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Maryland Green Party Virtual Assembly
We are excited to announce our first virtual State Assembly will be held on Saturday May 30th beginning at 1:00 pm over Zoom. To engage in the virtual State Assembly, registration is required to get the Zoom invite to be able to participate. Once registered, participants will be sent the proper information to access the Zoom Video Conference


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.

Today, the DC Government is set to begin “reopening” the District. This is after the city observed an increased caseload over the weekend, a violation of previous metrics outlined by the city. Rather than follow the guidelines they had set in place, the city changed their metrics in order to justify their reopening.

You can read full guidance on the order here, but “Phase One” means taverns, bars, and restaurants will be able to resume outdoor dining.


GOOD READS

Two hundred-plus organizations representing about half the scientists and medical personnel across the globe have signed an open letter to G-20 leaders linking success against COVID-19 and climate change and urging both be pursued in tandem. The Guardian‘s article notes: “some countries are considering a green recovery from the crisis by attaching stern conditions to any bailouts for fossil fuel-dependent industries, such as aviation, and by pumping money into infrastructure that reduces greenhouse gases, from broadband for remote working to better cycle lanes and electric vehicle charging points.”

Bloomberg News on the business (!) of left-wing podcasts like Chapo Trap House and where they are turning after the suspension of the Sanders campaign. A pretty deep look.

Two reads from our local comrade Kurt Stand: an article co-written by Rebecca Tarlau on Bill Gates’s use of the pandemic to further his neo-liberal teaching agenda; and a review of the documentary Waging Change – about the exploitation of tipped employees, with special attention to DC – in the Daily Beast.

A heap (215, actually) of educators and activists sent an education agenda to Joe Biden. Pushing what amounts to the education slice of the Green New Deal, a lead instigator – Diane Ravitch – says Biden should “reject the stale and failed policies of the past 20 years” in favor of a “fresh vision for American education” (including the charter schools favored in Obamaland). From Common Dreams.

A strong essay in The Prospect analyzing the direction and sources of influence of Biden Campaign. The article makes the case that Biden is a Democrat who finds himself consistently in the “center” of the party. For leftists, this means finding ways to influence power dynamics within his staff and the Democratic Party at large.

Nobody has a spokesperson these days, but Bhaskar S counts as a bit of a bellwether on this issue so this – and where it turned up – matters. So does navigating “the tightrope.”