June 5, 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.


Metro D.C. DSA would like to congratulate our fellow chapter member and future D.C. Councilmember Janeese Lewis George on her historic victory over incumbent Brandon Todd in Tuesday’s primary election. At a moment when our city is facing a public health crisis, a righteous uprising against tyrannical policing, and a military occupation, it is a benison to the people of the District that we will have Janeese’s passion, temerity, and leadership to help guide us through the months and years to come. Read our full statement here.

Here is Metro DC DSA’s June 1 statement on Metro D.C. DSA Calls for Mass Resistance Against Trump’s Military Occupation of the District of Columbia – standing with those who resist “this occupying army, which is entirely unaccountable to the residents of our disenfranchised District” imposed by Trump in “demonstrating the power of the capitalist state and its monopoly on violence over working people” – which must be countered by DC Statehood and “full protection of its own popular sovereignty.”

Defund the MPD - As our comrades, friends, and family take to the streets across the country, activists have raised the call: defund the police agencies that are hurting our neighbors and starving our communities of resources and invest instead in actual public safety and community services. We’re taking up that call here in DC with a demand to Defund the Metropolitan Police Department! We put together a first meeting on Monday, which had 20 members take part. Since then, another 20 or so people have expressed interest in getting involved. We’re currently developing a petition, researching and writing detailed comments to the DC City Council’s Judiciary Committee laying out the case to defund the MPD, and reaching out to community groups and labor to build support for this issue. And with our chapter’s recent victory electing Janeese Lewis George in Ward 4, we have a real pathway to cut MPD’s budget and reinvest it in our schools, social services, and ending systemic racism.

In the short-term, we’re operating on a tight timeline to influence the FY2021 budget, so expect a call to action very soon. And if you want to get involved in building this campaign to Defund the MPD, fill out this form.


TODAY – Stop Police Terror - Protect DC: Friday, June 5, Freedom Plaza at 6 PM
We encourage members to attend this rally sponsored by Stop Police Terror Project and Black Lives Matter which is calling for divesting from MPD and ending stop and frisk in DC. Join our contingent as we demand that we prioritize care and not cops!

TODAY – From our HU comrade Carolyn Byerly: Friday, June 5 at 2-3 PM
Hosted by Howard University, Dept of Media, Journalism and Film @ HowardU presents: “Reporting While Black: Journalists on the Front Lines”
Live Zoom event - Register here


The very timely Socialist Night School presentation hosted Wednesday on Police Abolition is pending; watch for a link to the webinar stream in on our Nightschool Resources page. See below in Good Reads for an interview conducted just this week with Alex Vitale, author of An End to Policing – one of the excellent resources cited as further reading there.

As demonstrations continue across the district and beyond, we want to make sure that everyone has support and can stay as safe as possible. Please keep an eye on our #announcements channel on Slack for ways to stay safe and supported during direct action activities. But some basic things to remember:

  • if you can, go with at least one buddy who you trust. Be really careful of how much information you share about yourself and your comrades to people you don’t know;
  • wear a face mask/covering, nondescript clothing, closed-toed shoes, and ear plugs if you have them. Write our arrest hotline number on your arm so we can keep track of where you are and provide you with support in the event of an arrest;
  • in order of preference: turn off your phone, keep it on airplane mode, or if it’s going to be on, and at the very least make sure FaceID/Touch ID is turned off. Passcode entry only;
  • please be mindful of imagery you share on social media (photos or live streaming) and make sure that what you post doesn’t identify people’s faces;
  • be mindful of your surroundings and try to immediately exit situations where it looks like police are closing off your exits. Always have a plan for how and when to exit. As you move, plan out a route and a buddy to leave with;
  • it does not help the movement for you to be needlessly arrested; if you can avoid it, do so. Many current officers across DC are not with MPD, and the charges will be extremely different from typical D.C. protest arrests.

Massive Victory for Socialism in DC! Metro DC DSA member Janeese Lewis George triumphed over the current DC Councilmember Brandon Todd in the Ward 4 Democratic primary election. George ran on a platform that embraced democratic socialist values, especially rent control and defunding the police. We welcome our newest champion within the Wilson building. A first DSA member on the DC Council? Find out here!


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

Monday, June 8 | 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Washington’s Murderous Anti-Communist Crusade/Socialist Night School
How US officials enabled a horrific 1965 mass slaughter in Indonesia – crushing South Asia’s largest Communist party with a million dead – detailed by an author who has exposed “the brutal extermination of unarmed leftists [that] was a fundamental part of Washington’s final triumph in the Cold War.”

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
Remote meeting; please register in advance.

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


Friday, June 5 | 2 to 3 PM
Reporting While Black: Journalists on the Front Lines
Presented by Howard University, Dept. of Media, Journalism and Film @ HowardU

Wednesday, June 10 | Noon to 1:15 PM
Women Leading Fights for Violence-free Workplaces & Corporate Accountability
A conversation of women labor leaders about organizing and solidarity.

Wednesday, June 10 | 7 to 9 PM
The Plastics Industry and Covid-19
Presentation and discussion hosted by Greenbelt Climate Action Network. Virtual event; follow link for RSVP.

Saturday, June 13 | Noon to 1 PM
Our Revolution Maryland Statewide Zoom Conference
Including Nina Turner, Jamie Raskin, and Larry Cohen.

Saturday, June 13 | 3 PM
No Justice No Pride March and Caravan
Metro-Takoma, 327 Cedar St NW, Washington DC 20012


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.

Thursday, June 11 | 8:00 PM
Workers Organizer and Win
Essential workers share about organizing and winning protections during COVID-19. We’ll hear direction from grocery store workers, restaurant workers, and public service employees who have been organizing and winning demands at their shops.


As the country, and not least DC, experiences notable unrest, we hope that this weekly newsletter helps keep local socialists and our allies engaged and informed. So long as there is a Friday, this newsletter will be in your inbox at 9 AM. For DSA members or allies organizing protests or other relief, please consider this a common bulletin to know where to look out for protests, virtual events, and other means of getting involved to help alleviate this chaos. If you have events, information, or would like to help out in compiling this weekly report, please reach out to us at publications@mdcdsa.org, or join our #publications channel on slack.

PUBLICATIONS SCHEDULE: June Updates will be published Fridays, June 12, 19 and 26 and the July issue of the Washington Socialist is scheduled 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.


In our June edition of the Washington Socialist:

  • “The Battle for Rent Control” identifies the current struggle to strengthen tenant protections in the city, observing the evolution of the local movement in the context of COVID-19 and evidence of a new local left in DC.
  • “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.
  • “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.
  • “Bernie or Bust?” makes the case for DSA member engagement in the upcoming presidential election, emphasizing the unique threat posed by another four years of President Trump.
  • “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
  • “Counter to the Planet of the Humans” pinpoints the shortcomings of Michael Moore’s newest climate documentary.


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.

Last week, the DC Government began “reopening” the District. You can read full guidance on the order here, but “Phase One” means taverns, bars, and restaurants will be able to resume outdoor dining, among other loosened restrictions.

Last Friday, Mayor Bowser and DDOT announced several policies meant to reimagine public space during the ongoing coronavirus public health emergency, including the buildout of “streateries.” Streateries expand beyond individual parking lane uses and close one or more lanes of an entire block or more to vehicle traffic to allow for outdoor dining and table service.

And as of May 31, DC reported 56 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the District’s overall positive case total to 8,857. Ward 4 has experienced the highest overall caseload in the city, at 1,846. 468 district residents have lost their lives due to COVID-19.


Alex Vitale, author of “An End to Policing,” was interviewed by NPR on Wednesday. Vitale also participated in a just-now interview with Jacobin on YouTube.

A communications scholar fingers the critical role of media in characterizing what has become a broad-spectrum uprising. Occupy or Black Bloc; Woodstock or Altamont?

How to imagine “looting” by protesters? Fully conscious redistribution? Symbolically rejecting the material evidence of oppression? An interesting and informed attempt on Discourse blog.

A Guardian writer notes that “It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that economists started to realise that it might be better to leave a bit of slack in the economy to help cope with exogenous shocks.” This was, we know, overwhelmed in advanced capitalist nations by the supposed need to ease economic friction with just-in-time everything, no excess capacity. This, writer Malcolm Bull argues (with lessons from Machiavelli and the English Chartists) means a reassessment of how to manage an economy in the era of cascading crisis points like pandemic and climate change.

“George Floyd and Derek Chauvin Might as Well Have Lived on Different Planets – Minneapolis abandoned its vision of an egalitarian society. The region is now paying an enormous price for that choice.” How Minneapolis-St. Paul went from progressive beacon to standard US-segregated in a matter of decades, creating the geographical and economic divides that made the fatal encounter of George Floyd and the killer cops much more likely.

From Jacobin: ”To Break the Power of the Police, We Need to Mobilize the Power of Labor” – In the past, radical-led unions have been at the forefront of the struggle against police brutality. Unions must step up and do the same today — because racial justice movements can’t win radical reforms without the institutional heft of organized workers.

Here’s a real conundrum – a conservative think-tank stalwart opining about the awfulness of cop unions – that is, using them to trash unions in general – and in effect seeming to do our work for us. Buyer beware. Not a surprise that this appears in the WaPo, rabidly anti-union since the Ben Bradlee-Kay Graham days and now, in Bezos’ ownership, just as unmistakably so.

Ages have come and gone, kingdoms and powers and dynasties have risen and fallen, old glories and ancient wisdoms have been turned into dust, heroes and sages have been forgotten and many a mighty and fearsome god has been hurled into the lightless chasms of oblivion.

But ye, Plebs, Populace, People, Rabble, Mob, Proletariat, live and abide forever.
-Arturo Giovannitti