June 26, 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

Metro D.C. DSA members voted overwhelmingly to support Ed Lazere’s candidacy for D.C. Council, with 97 percent of votes cast in favor of endorsement. The D.C. general election will take place on November 3, 2020. You can read the full statement published by the steering committee here.

Here’s how you can help Ed win:

Our chapter endorsed Ed Lazere for not only his campaign’s policy positions, but also because of his lifelong commitment to social, economic, and racial justice. As the former head of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Ed worked closely with labor unions and allied organizations to win hard fought victories like increasing the minimum wage, winning paid sick days, and enacting and protecting paid family leave. Ed is one of the foremost experts on the DC budget and has been a consistent voice for taxing the rich, ending tax break giveaways for developers, and investing in healthcare, education, and affordable housing.

With your help, we can send not one but two democratic socialists to the DC Council in November!


The WEEKEND

Saturday, June 27 | Noon to 2:00 PM
Publications Working Group Meeting
Follow link or see MDC DSA Calendar below for details.

Sunday, June 28 | 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Southern Towers Rent Strike Solidarity - Flyering Action
Follow link or see MDC DSA Calendar below for details.


BRIEFS

Chapter Democracy!
Ed Lazere’s endorsement follows the chapter’s most recent electoral procedure. 2986 members received a ballot for the June General Body meeting with 293 members casting ballots. Three (3) resolutions came for a vote before the body at our June GBM which occurred on June 14th. The results are as follows:

  • On Resolution 20-05-R01 to Create 2020 D.C. Council At-Large Working Group, with 277 votes in favor, 6 against, and 9 abstentions the resolution passes.
  • On Resolution 20-05-R02 to Endorse Ed Lazere for D.C. Council At-Large, with 269 votes in favor, 7 against, and 16 abstentions the resolution passes.
  • On Resolution 20-05-R03 to Endorse Will Merrifield for D.C. Council At-Large, with 98 votes in favor, 127 against, and 65 abstentions the resolution fails.

Design Committee
The new Design Committee held their first business meeting this week to assign liaison positions, decide on workflow and collaboration processes, and delegate design projects. If you are interested in art, graphic design, illustration, web design, photography, etc, reach out to Katlyn C. on Slack or email mdcdsadesign@gmail.com!

Updates on the Defund MPD Campaign
We are thrilled to announce that the MDC DSA chapter has joined a black-led coalition of organizations across DC who share a common goal of a society without police and prisons. In coordination with Black Lives Matter DC, MDC DSA hosted a Juneteenth Solidarity March from Hancock Park to the White House and Black Lives Matter Plaza, where we rallied with allied organizations to demand police defunding. This week, we supported BYP 100’s phone zap to the DC Council, which made over +1,900 calls on Tuesday demanding that the Council defund MPD and take police out of our schools. Additionally, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee announced a $15 million “cut” to the MPD’s budget last night. Not only would $15 million be inadequate by itself, it’s actually not a cut at all! The cut was measured in a way that compared to the Mayor’s proposed raise - so the proposal is actually proposing to INCREASE the MPD’s funding in FY2021. In response, DSA’s Defund the MPD campaign joined with Sunrise Movement last night in an emergency rally to tell key decision makers that this is unacceptable. Protests will certainly continue across the district in the coming weeks, and MDC will continue to look for ways to connect with allied organizers leading the charge to truly Defund MPD.

From our MoCo comrade Del. Vaughn Stewart: Comrades – I launched a petition drive and social media campaign to pressure [Maryland] Governor Hogan to send immediate checks to Marylanders still waiting for their full unemployment benefits. Folks have been waiting weeks and months for benefits, and are struggling to afford medicine, housing, and groceries. I could really use your help getting the word out about this effort – Sign the petition.”

Request for Defund video testimonies
We have a special request! If you submitted video testimony to the Council in real time or through a recording, we would like to use your testimony in a video project! We have a video editor working to create shareable visual content. If you consent to having your testimony used, please upload your video here.

Prince George’s County branch
The Prince George’s Co. Organizing Committee has voted to form a branch exploratory committee. We have a volunteer interim steering group looking at actions and bylaws development stemming from our Tuesday (June 21) meeting. We’ll meet again Wednesday, July 8 at 7 PM on Zoom to keep firming up our stance and strategy. Before then, contact woodlanham@gmail.com or kurtstand@gmail.com to get hooked up with the interim leadership.

Dr. Howard Croft, DC Statehood advocate, professor and chair of urban studies at UDC and longtime member of Metro DC DSA from its earliest days (he joined from NAM) has died. Members and activists who have long memories of his tireless work for empowerment of all residents of the District of Columbia have shared their recollections here. This memorium will be reposted in the July edition of the Washington Socialist, due next week.

Ed Lazere endorsement
Last weekend, our DSA chapter voted overwhelmingly to endorse Ed Lazere for DC Council At-Large (see UP FRONT, above). Ed is a community leader, policy expert, and a transformative candidate running on a left platform that includes strengthening and expanding rent control, ensuring that all teachers earn a fair wage, and defunding MPD. This is our chapter’s second DC Council endorsement this cycle, after helping Janeese Lewis George win her primary election for the Council’s Ward 4 seat. You can take action to support Ed’s campaign today. By electing Ed, we can ensure that Janeese will have one more ally on the Council in the political battles to come. Here’s how you can help Ed win:
Here’s how you can help Ed win:


MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR JUNE AND BEYOND

Saturday, June 27 | Noon to 2:00 PM
Publications Working Group Meeting
Please join our team meeting to discuss the chapter newsletter, website, and the monthly magazine, the Washington Socialists. We welcome our workgroup regulars and any chapter members with interest in publications.

Sunday, June 28 | 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Southern Towers Rent Strike Solidarity
1200 Courthouse Rd., Alexandria VA
We are flyering another apartment run by the same landlord as Southern Towers, where we are supporting a rent strike.

Monday, June 29 | 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Socialist Night School: Ecosocialism and the Green New Deal
*Rescheduled from an earlier postponement, a session exploring ecosocialism as a means of helping us understand how capitalism and overlapping systems of oppression fuel the kinds of extraction that now undermine basic systems of life on Earth.

Thursday, July 2 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
NOVA Branch DSA New Member Orientation & Socialize with Socialists
New to NOVA Branch? Come to new member orientation to learn more about NOVA Branch and Metro DC DSA. Stick around after to virtually meet your new comrades!

Sunday, July 5 | 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Socialist Feminist Reading Group: Feminism for the 99%
Proposed first reading, Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto

Monday, July 6 | 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Socialist Night School: Uber and the Gig Economy in DC
Virtual meeting
Uber entered D.C. with an exemption to District rules governing taxis, and over time has enjoyed a cozy relationship with local officials. This relationship compounds the power imbalance between drivers and the company. By allowing Uber and other platform companies to self-regulate, local officials have not only hurt workers but also D.C. at large. Learn more about Uber, the gig economy and how cities manage their place in global capitalism. This session will be led by Katie Wells, urban research fellow at Georgetown University.

Wednesday, July 8 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Prince George’s Branch (prov.) meeting
Virtual meeting
Reportbacks on bylaws consideration, issue priorities and allied groups collaboration.

Thursday, July 16 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
NOVA Branch DSA Organizing Meeting
Welcoming new members and discussing ongoing and new campaigns.

Monday, July 20 | 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Socialist Feminist Working Group Organizing Meeting
Virtual meeting
The primary purpose of this meeting will be writing the Bylaws of the working group with a vote to follow in the next few days.

EVENTS BY OUR ALLIES IN THE DMV

TODAY, June 26 | 1:00 to 4:00 PM
Black Trans March
Brentwood Hamilton Park
In the spirit of Marsha P Johnson, D.C.’s own Avis Pendarvis and all the legendary Black Trans and GNC elders, NJNP is having Black Trans March and Protest. Come Vogue, Learn, Appreciate, and Celebrate the lives and efforts of Black TGNC who have sacrificed and fought to get to this point. There will be a way to join virtually. Update on FB page with accessibility details.

Saturday, June 27 | 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
March for Justice and Equity
Annapolis, Maryland
Black Lives matter and so do Black Votes. We are demanding the Governor repeal the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEOBOR), fund our HBCU’s and invest in our Community Schools. Co-sponsored by Prince George’s People’s Coalition.

Monday, June 29 | 9:00 AM to 10:30 PM
Excluded Workers Rally
Excluded workers are undocumented residents, day laborers, sex workers, street vendors, returning citizens, and other workers in the informal economy who have all been locked out of unemployment benefits and other cash assistance. Organizations can sign on to the letter here.

Monday, June 29 | 3:00 to 4:00 PM
DC Labor Town Hall
Metro DC Labor Council virtual town hall with Councilmember Robert White on the DC budget.

Wednesday, July 1 | 4:00 PM
Know Your Rights in a ReOpened DC!
Info about worker rights as the lockdown eases – with Attorney General Karl A. Racine – sponsors include DC Jobs with Justice, Restaurant Opportunity Council, Jews United for Justice and others. Interpretation in Spanish and Amharic will be provided.

Thursday, July 2 | 7:00 PM
Maryland Poor People’s Campaign - State Open House
Get connected, hear from state committee members, learn more about the Campaign, and discuss our next steps to demand Justice Jubilee in our state!

Thursday, July 2 | 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Covid, Modernity, Lifeways, and Drug Use
Virtual event
Powerful mind altering drugs have been used by humans for thousands of years for sacred rituals as well as recreation. Only in recent generations has this use become problematic and only in the past few decades have we waged an all out war on them. Join IPS Drug Policy Project Director Sanho Tree for a radical reflection on drugs, humanity, and modernity.

Friday, June 3 | 7:00 to 9:00 PM
“A Right to be Radical”
Talk and conversation on the life of Black Communist Claudia Jones, conducted by Professor Carole Boyce Davies. Accessibility needs can be noted in RSVP.

Thursday, July 23 | 11:30 to 1:00 PM
Coronavirus Authoritarianism and the Far Right
Authoritarian leaders have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to further concentrate power in their own hands. Meanwhile, the far right has pushed hard from the margins to accelerate the collapse of democracy. John Feffer will discuss the power grabs.

NATIONAL DSA EVENTS

TODAY, June 26 | 8:30 PM
Democratic Socialist Labor Commission call
The call will feature reports from the front lines and sharing of actual experience in building labor support for Black Lives Matter. As socialists, we must harness this historical moment to push for abolition and discuss how we can bring that goal to the labor movement. Sign up for our first national membership call.

Saturday, July 3 | 1:00 PM
Socialism 2020 Conference
Sponsored by national DSA Donation is requested, v. sliding scale. See details and participants.


INFO ACCESS

Metro DC DSA publications are intended to keep a socialist perspective and lens on events and actions both for our members and our allies, and we reach over 4,000 readers in the DMV. Our branches in Montgomery County, Maryland and in Northern VA are part of our coverage.

Publications Schedule: This is the last Update for June, and the July issue of the Washington Socialist is scheduled for publication on Friday, July 3, with an article deadline of Thursday, June 25. Updates will be published Fridays, July 10, 17 and 24 and the August issue of the Washington Socialist will be sent Friday, July 30. As always, submissions are welcome at thesocialist@mdcdsa.org. We welcome all comments, questions, or observed issues with the new site; please send notices through the Red Desk or notify us in our #publications Slack channel.


WASHINGTON SOCIALIST

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.

COVID NEWS

DC is pushing forward with Phase 2 reopening despite missing its required metrics (which it set itself) for reopening. At a press conference on Monday, Mayor Bowser was asked about moving into Phase 2 despite meeting the benchmarks set by the administration. The mayor’s response: “we always know that we can have different experiences with the data. We have the ability to go up and down. It’s my decision that it wouldn’t be worth it to wait a day.”

DC has met most of its stated metrics (although, many of these standards, such as “community spread,” are confusing and opaque). But the city has not met its contact tracing goal of 90% outreach (so far, its 7-day average is 23.4% for new cases, 43.6% for close contacts). Without consistent and falsifiable metrics that guide and inform government decision making, the public may lose confidence in government capacity to intervene. This may dissuade city residents from respecting existing orders (such as social distancing or limited social interactions) that might increase the threat of contagion.

Coronavirus is still a very real threat that demands a significant public response - public officials must be held to account in shaping economic relations that reflect the danger imposed on workers and the public at large. You can read the guidance and regulatory changes implied by Phase Two reopening here.


GOOD READS

A useful roundup from the Popular Resistance newsletter on policing then, now, future.

People, including state lawmakers, looking closely at police violence are catching on that there’s an iron triangle here – cops, local prosecutors and DAs, and judges all depend on one another for not only cooperation but indeed for a steady flow of business. The school to prison pipeline is like a pinball machine, maybe?

How does the hate-filled online rag, The Daily Wire, perform so well? A strong investigation from popular.info has revealed “a network of large Facebook pages - each built by exploiting racial bias, religious bigotry, and violence - that systematically promote[s] content from The Daily Wire.” Worth a read for those trailing the right.

An exorcism of Bernie’s 2020 campaign published in Status Coup. A strong, if testy, review of what went wrong, who was in charge, and what was happening behind the scenes. The reporting indicates that one of the largest issues in the campaign was its over-reliance on volunteer, rather than paid staff, organizing, which may have cost Sanders key states and lost delegate shares that would have better positioned Sanders to challenge Biden as the campaign went on.

But here’s a different take on Bernie’s path to now, from a thoughtful conservative columnist (a few exist). “The Second Defeat of Bernie Sanders” takes every opportunity to trash neoliberals.

Radio show BAMNecessary talked to one of the co-founders of Freedom Fighters DC about the recent crackdowns from police in DC. Great interview that provides a good explanation of what’s been happening at Lafayette Square over the past week.

Tom Edsall, down the data rabbithole again for our benefit, in “Why Do We Pay So Many People So Little Money?” Today’s inconvenient truth: “Interestingly, the largest disparities between the pay of essential workers and all other workers were in Democratic jurisdictions, including Massachusetts at 25.4 percent; Rhode Island, 26 percent; Virginia, 27.6 percent; Maryland, 28.6 percent; Connecticut, 29.2 percent; and the District of Columbia, at 47.2 percent.”

“White Supremacy Is A Pre-Existing Condition” is the catchy headline of a report fronted by three IPS scholars and more helpfully subtitled “Eight Solutions to Ensure Economic Recovery Reduces the Racial Wealth Divide” … it’s in Educate! and links to more detailed reports.


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