July 3, 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 DC DSA, in a strong statement, has condemned the firing by UFCW Local 400’s MCGEO of MD Del. Gabriel Acevero (a DSA member) because of his active work in the legislature to reform police practices and increase transparency, including authoring Anton’s Law. MDC DSA has demanded his reinstatement by MCGEO, which is a unit for Montgomery County public employees including some in law enforcement. Read the full statement.


The WEEKEND

Sunday, July 5 | 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Socialist Feminist Reading Group - Feminism for the 99%

Sunday, July 5 | 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
NoVA Branch DSA Migrant Justice Campaign Meeting

Sunday, July 5 | 3:00 PM
NoVA Branch DSA Rent Strike Solidarity Working Group Meeting


IN THIS ISSUE OF WASHINGTON SOCIALIST

This packed edition of the Washington Socialist covers a variety of contemporary issues: the Defund MPD campaign, DC statehood, DSA electoral strategy, and more…

  • Police Reform and the Working Class - Kam W argues that police brutality is not simply a problem of individual racist police officers but is a result of a class dynamic that disproportionately polices the working class. The left should see the problem of police brutality as the multiracial class issue that it is, and the left should propose specific policy alternatives to the current police “warrior” culture.
  • Defunding MPD - Events in DC swirling around police brutality, radical response and specific proposals to defund the MPD and rethink public safety and harm reduction have been rapid-fire and may seem bewildering. The careful timeline laid out here shows that policy impacts are beginning to be felt and that left and insurgent strategies have knitted well to keep public awareness and official pressure at the needed level – so far.
  • Hogan Unemployment Fiasco - Workers in Maryland have been hit with the double whammy of massive, high-speed unemployment due to the novel coronavirus and a bumbling public response from the Hogan administration that has left literally millions without ready relief as the law requires. Working people have hit the streets, unions have pushed back on behalf of all workers and legislators have been attentive to both as the state struggles to re-boot a governance structure that doesn’t leave Larry Hogan’s pro-business bias in sole charge.
  • Reflections: the 1992 riots - In 1992 police violence and its aftermath led to large demonstrations morphing into civil disturbance in Los Angeles’ communities of color – and, within weeks, a similar response to police violence right here in D.C.’s fast-changing Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Bill Mosley’s article in the Washington Socialist of 1992 that compared the then-fresh events is reprinted here with his introductory comments noting how and why such events continue to recur.
  • Union Building for the Long Haul - In a review of a trenchant book showing the daily vicissitudes of organizing and maintaining a union among Boston museum guards when a formerly benevolent Brahmin elite museum leadership suddenly turns grasping and corporate, Kurt Stand shows how hard the work of staying organized can be, and how the compensations for that near-thankless work sometimes surprise with their value.
  • Unrest and Statehood - DC Statehood has for the first time been approved by a chamber of the US Congress, though the further steps toward that goal will have to wait for Democratic wins in Senate and White House – if then. Still, as Bill Mosley points out, the credit-taking has begun locally, starting with the ever-opportunistic Mayor Bowser.
  • The Time for Statehood Is Now - Oye Owolewa reviews why statehood is of critical importance - not just for District residents, but for combating the power of elite interests nationally.
  • On Electoral Strategy - Frank Roberts considers DSA’s electoral strategy following local - and national - socialist victories.
  • Enforcing the First Amendment - Following the legally dubious deployment of federal troops in standing down District protests, Dan Adkins considers the role that government employees must play in respecting the First Amendment rights of citizens.
  • Remembering Dr. Howard Croft - 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, has died. Members and activists who have long memories of his tireless work for empowerment of all residents of the District of Columbia contribute their recollections.

BRIEFS

DC celebrates launch of Paid Family Leave, $15/hr minimum wage
From Union City - Today marks a major milestone for workers in DC. As of July 1, DC is the first ‘state’ in the country to pay workers a $15/hour minimum wage and just the sixth jurisdiction to guarantee workers paid leave from work to care for a new child, an ill family member, or a worker’s own serious health condition. Tipped workers’ base pay will also increase to $5/hour. On July 1st DC Jobs with Justice organized a webinar on workplace rights during reopening; watch it here: “Better pay and leave benefits could not come at a better time for frontline workers who have been risking so much for the District these past few months,” said Dyana Forester, president of the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO. “We have been fighting for years for higher wages and better enforcement of our local labor laws to protect vulnerable workers and are proud to see this hard work paying off in ways that will advance a just recovery,” said Elizabeth Falcon, executive director, DC Jobs With Justice.

Fossil fuel power mapping webinar
A primer on how to research and map corporate power generally and fossil fuel and utility power specifically. We’ll learn the basics of power mapping through looking at Exelon, which owns Pepco, BG&E and several other utilities in the DMV targeted by DSA energy democracy campaigns. Co-sponsored by national DSA Ecosocialists. Register here or see fuller details below in NATIONAL DSA EVENT HIGHLIGHTS.

Request for Defund video testimonies
Wehave a special request! If you submitted video testimony to the Council’s hearing on MPD funding 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.

Videographer wanted
Are you a videographer who wants to share D.C.’s radical history with comrades from across the country? Join me to film an outdoor “Radical D.C. Tour” to post on the Democratic Left website. Professional experience not necessary, only a demonstrated ability with operating video equipment with good video and audio quality as well as editing. Professional video equipment preferred but a good-quality smartphone is acceptable. Pandemic precautions are required, including the wearing of a mask and social distancing. Will involve riding in a car and/or Metro. It is a volunteer project with no compensation and will involve a three-to-four-hour commitment at a mutually convenient time in addition to editing and post-production. If interested contact Bill Mosley, billmosley@comcast.net no later than July 15.

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 JULY

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

Sunday, July 5 | 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
NoVA Branch DSA Migrant Jusice Campaign Meeting
The NoVA migrant justice working group will be meeting again to plan next steps for Free Them All demands and working to end detention and deportation. Pre-registration link for the Zoom meeting.

Sunday, July 5 | 3:00 PM
NoVA Branch DSA Rent Strike Solidarity Working Group Meeting
Come join the NOVA Branch Rent Strike Solidarity Working Group in a virtual meeting to plan our next steps in supporting the ongoing rent strike at Southern Towers. We will discuss future actions and activities for our branch to engage in solidarity with the tenants.

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.

Sunday, July 12 | 3:00 to 5:00 PM
Prince George’s Branch (prov.) Peace Month movie presentation
As part of Greenbelt Peace Month, Prince George’s County branch (provisional) of Metro Washington Democratic Socialists of America will screen The Issue of Mr. O’Dell, a 2018 documentary about African-American civil rights activist Jack O’Dell (1923-2019). Directed by T-Rami Katz, the 35-minute film covers O’Dell’s roles with Dr. King and the SCLC, with Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Coalition, and as editor of Freedomways, a key journal of the 1960s Black Freedom movement. It ends with his comments on Black Lives Matter. Discussion will involve Gene Bruskin, who worked closely with O’Dell in the Rainbow Coalition.

Thursday, July 16 | 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Reconstruction and Democracy in the South: Socialist Night School
Online event. The Reconstruction era, from 1865-1877, represents America’s first attempt at multiracial democracy. Why did this valiant attempt end so abruptly? What were some of the achievements of the era? And most importantly, what lessons can we draw from Reconstruction for the 21st century? Session led by Robert Greene II, an Assistant Professor of History at Claflin University. Dr. Greene serves as Lead Instructor for the South Carolina Progressive Network’s Modjeska Simkins School of Human Rights. Follow link for access and details.

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

Sunday, July 19 | 2:00 to 4:30 PM
MoCO General Branch Meeting
Please join us for our July branch meeting via Zoom - we will discuss defunding the police, budget and tax equity, and more. Email us at: MontgomeryCountyDSA@gmail.com to receive the Zoom link and password.

Sunday, July 19 | 3:00 to 4:00 PM
MDC DSA New Member Orientation
New members or those who need a refresher can join to learn about MDC DSA’s structure, Maryland and NoVA branches, working groups and caucuses, and current ongoing campaigns. Follow the link for access.

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.

Monday, July 20 | 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Socialist Feminist Working Group Organizing 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

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.

Monday, July 6 | 3:00 to 6:00 PM
Black Homes Matter/Rally for Housing Justice in the DC Budget
The DC Council is finalizing the city’s 2021 budget in the next few weeks - join us to demand money for critical housing programs!

Thursday, July 9 | 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
IPS Webinar Series: Power, Plunder, the Pandemic, and Protests
This webinar places extractive fossil fuel industries in the political context of the ongoing pandemic, and state violence against Black communities. It focuses on the machinations of the fossil fuel industry to get a public bailout and a reprieve from regulations, using the pandemic as cover. It also explores how the militarized response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests is a window into how far powerful industries could go to protect their privileges. Registration at link.

Thursday, July 16 | 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
IPS Webinar Series: Borders in Moments of Crisis
The multi-layered crisis we are living in today – raging from COVID-19 to The Climate Crisis – is fueling xenophobic anti-immigrant policies aimed at restricting our collective freedom to move, live and thrive. A an IPS conversation on how COVID-19 is impacting immigrant communities and how the Climate Crisis is being used as a pretext by the US to militarize borders, and restrict the wellbeing of undocumented people. Registration at link.

Monday, July 20 | 6:30 PM
Reel and Meal at the New Deal presents “Illegal”
Part of the Utopia Film Festival, the director of “illegal,” who fled war in El Salvador, hopes to counter the right-wing rhetoric so prevalent these past four years by depicting examples of real people seeking refuge in the US. Details to come, but save the date. Info at justpeacepg@earthlink.net

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

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

Tuesday, July 14 | 8:00 PM
Fossil fuel power mapping webinar - via Zoom
This webinar will offer a primer on how to research and map corporate power generally and fossil fuel and utility power specifically. We’ll learn the basics of power mapping through looking at Exelon, which owns Pepco and several other utilities targeted by DSA energy democracy campaigns. Participants will learn about research tactics, databases, visual mapping tools, and other resources to help them get started mapping corporate power. Discussion will also focus on how power mapping helps organizers concretely strategize and come up with new and effective tactics (with examples). The corporate power-mapping organization LittleSis will lead the training. The webinar is co-sponsored by LittleSis and national DSA Ecosocialists.


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: July 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.


GOOD READS

Veteran activist and analyst Michael Albert finds today pretty awesome. “Activism can breed hope. Hope can breed more activism. Follow that cycle for a while and incredible options open. Follow longer, and real change is gonna come. Doing can induce thinking. Thinking can inform doing. Follow that cycle for a while and focus, intensity, and strategic wisdom enlarge. Change is gonna be smart.” From ZNET via Portside.

Mike Davis in the New Left Review summarizes and advances work he has done for decades identifying the way capitalist practices have set the worldwide table for exactly the sort of pandemic we are now experiencing “In A Plague Year.”

Virginia’s steady turn from its segregationist past has excited both liberals and radicals, but every day brings evidence of how much still needs to be done. A NoVA comrade provides a marker of the terrible past via the Zinn project – before today’s defund movement there was an earlier, and as tragic, one in the Old Dominion.

Historian Jill Lepore, in the New Yorker, traces the sorry history of commission reports on civil disturbance like the “Kerner Report” on the ‘60s riots – and how they are used to excuse inaction and distribute blame until it vanishes. Blessedly without a paywall in Portside.

DC’s emergency COVID legislation required mortgage lenders to offer deferrals to property owners, and for those property owners to pass that same relief on to their renters. UrbanTurf discloses the new databases that are available to help renters find out whether their landlord is getting a deferral.

The headline says it all: “Local unions defy AFL-CIO in push to oust police unions” – from Politico via Portside.

Economist Mariana Mazzucato in the NYT: “…value is not best measured by price or payment. What’s more, governments create value every day, from which citizens and businesses benefit. They benefit from ‘basic’ structures like highways, education and other essential goods and services, but also from the technologies that shape our economy. Public financing of research and development helped bring us innovations like the GPS technology that powers Uber and the internet that makes Google possible. Is this socialism? No — it is simply admitting that the government, an investor of first resort, can benefit from thinking more like a venture capitalist around societal goals like a green transition.” Hm. Well, in the benighted US context, industrial policy may not be pure socialism but we’ll take it as a down payment.

Defund action in Maryland – a Peace Action activist advocates demilitarizing cops by cutting the Pentagon toys.for.boys equipment pipeline. He writes in Annapolis’s paper, The Capital.


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