July 10, 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.


Email subscribers to the MDC DSA Weekly Update: note that you can ‘read this email in your browser.’ MDC DSA will update the web version of the Update with new events and details as they become available. Use that link to stay current about actions building socialism RIGHT NOW.

Comrades, we are piloting a slightly different look for the Update template – if you were thinking you needed to promote your campaign with a separate membership email, instead consider putting it in UP FRONT – a campaign headline that links to a detailed appeal and turnout message – an uncluttered dynamic one-two presentation that gives your campaign the boost it needs. Our newsletter is opened by well over 1,000 individuals weekly, and acts as one of the best ways to broadcast information to the chapter and our allies at large.


UP FRONT

  • The Sunday, July 23 General Body Meeting** includes tenant organizing, MDC DSA participatory budget and fast-track MoCo resolution.
  • Notice of Emergency Resolution in opposition to the Montgomery County Austerity Charter Amendment
  • July 15 Protest Southern Towers Evictions

July 12 General Body Meeting
The MDC DSA GBM for July 12 will include a review and update on our Stomp Out Slumlords campaign and the related housing justice and tenant organizing campaign, including tenant organizing training. The next stage of the Participatory Budgeting process will be unfolded. There will also be a presentation by MoCo Branch of an emergency resolution regarding a time-constrained ballot campaign, per this announcement after the Steering Committee meeting of Tuesday, June 7.

Notice of Emergency Resolution
At Thursday night’s Steering Committee (7/7), we voted to move this resolution which was submitted by members of the MoCo branch to be considered an emergency resolution as outlined in the bylaws. This resolution will be presented at our July GBM, then be on the ballot that members receive following that meeting. In order to pass it will require a 3/4ths vote of the membership. If it fails it may still move forward to a second and third read in the usual manner. Happy to answer any questions in the #steering channel and also at the GBM on Sunday.
Ryan M, secretary

Protest Southern Towers Evictions Wednesday, July 15
The Rent Strike at Southern Towers is now in its third month. The landlord, Bell Partners, refuses to meet with the tenants, and conditions continue to be abysmal. Sanitation is poor, water services are regularly cut, and AC breaks without the management handling in a timely manner. Now, with the eviction moratorium lifted, Bell Partners has begun to evict residents at an alarming rate - they have already filed nearly 150 eviction hearings in the first two weeks of July alone! This is only expected to get more dire as time goes on.

The Rent Strike Committee has asked the DSA to support them in an action on Wednesday, July 15 at 12 pm in front of the Alexandria Courthouse (520 King St) - Come join the Southern Towers residents in solidarity as they face the first major wave of eviction hearings. We will be protesting in front of the courthouse and providing folks with information on “knowing their rights” for their hearings.

Ahead of this court date, we will have another action on Saturday, 7/11 at 10 am at Southern Towers (5001 Seminary Rd.) - Come flyer with other striking tenants at Southern Towers. We will be handing out flyers to residents to make sure that they know their rights in court, and invite them to join us in expanding the strike and demanding that Bell Partners meet with them to negotiate rent and improve conditions.


THE WEEKEND

Whew! Sunday, July 12 is loaded: MDC DSA GBM, PG Peace Month flick, and Ecosocialist Developing Renewable Energy and Climate Solutions Webinar.


BRIEFS

Funding/Defunding the MPD
This budget season, the DC Council is calling a proposed budget increase for the MPD a “cut.” If you’re interested in getting involved in our campaign to defund the MPD, fill out this form. AND Comrades — those of us in the Defund MPD political education group have compiled lots of materials about defunding and abolition, and now we need your help to figure out where and how our efforts can be best put to use. We’d be very grateful if you could fill out this 1 min survey to help us out!
Ben M

Ed Lazere endorsement next steps
Our DSA chapter has voted overwhelmingly to endorse Ed Lazere for DC Council At-Large. You can take action to support Ed’s campaign today:

Socialist Night School
Last Monday, Socialist Night School explored how DC became a legislative model for Uber; how Uber became an institutional actor in the city; and what such an arrangement means for thinking about urban politics. You can review the recording, suggested readings, and summary of the event here. Our next event takes place on July 13, covering Reconstruction and Democracy in the South.

Stop Pepco’s Price Hike!
Pepco is trying to raise electricity prices even though thousands of DC residents are struggling to pay their bills due to COVID-19. And Pepco continues to undermine 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. Pepco’s plan would raise rates by $81 million over three years while guaranteeing the company $25 million worth of new profits. “Pepco’s multiyear rate proposal harms consumers, fails to deliver benefits and is not needed in order to meet the District’s short- or long-term environmental goals,” according to the DC government’s Office of the People’s Counsel. The rate hike would enrich Pepco’s executives but devastate low-income DC residents, most of whom are people of color.

We must not let Pepco pollute our air and fleece our neighbors–especially in the middle of a pandemic. There is a better way: a democratically-run public power system would let us rapidly switch to clean energy. Public power removes the profit motive and allows us to focus on the priorities of DC residents. Our utility fees would fund community needs instead of going into the pockets of Pepco’s rich executives. Join us for a digital town hall on July 21 to discuss Pepco’s plans and explore alternatives that put our communities before Pepco’s profits. We’ll hear from DC neighbors as well as energy policy experts who have ideas on how to improve our energy system. This event requires Zoom pre-registration: Register Here! This virtual event is free and open to the public. Audience members will have a chance to ask questions of the panel. If there is anything that you need to be able to fully participate in this event (for example, ASL interpretation or translation) please email wepowerdc@gmail.com


MDC DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR JULY

Sunday, July 12 | 3:00 to 5:00 PM
MDC DSA July General Body Meeting
Presentation and training on tenant organizing; next stage of participatory budgeting; fast-track MoCo resolution. Follow link for access info.

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.

Sunday, July 12 | 4:00 to 6:00 PM
Developing Renewable Energy and Climate Solutions
Join the Ecosocialist Caucus for a webinar on renewable energy and climate solutions in a GND by expert and MDC DSA member Vijay S. Parameshwaran, Ph.D. Online event – register at link for access info.

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.

Tuesday, July 21 | 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Queer Caucus Happy Hour
Online event for all Queer, Trans, and Nonbinary comrades, as well our allies and accomplices. Event is open to the public, DSA membership is not required.

Tuesday, July 21 | 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Stop Pepco’s Price Hike Digital Town Hall
Pepco is trying to raise electricity prices even though thousands of DC residents are struggling to pay their bills due to COVID-19. And Pepco continues to undermine 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.


NATIONAL DSA EVENTS

Monday, July 13th | 8:00 PM EDT
When We Take Power with Sam Gindin & Leo Panitch
Socialism is growing as a force in the US, but as the history of European social democracy shows, electoral wins are not enough. Socialists must not only win power but fundamentally transform how power works in the state and society if we want our efforts to go beyond reform and transcend capitalism. Join us for a talk with Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch, authors of The Socialist Challenge Today.

Tuesday, July 14 | 8:00 PM EDT
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.

Thursday, July 16 | 7:30 PM EDT
Faith, Abolition, and Socialism: Panel and Discussion
Join DSAers Linda Sarsour, Andrew Wilkes, and other panelists for an exciting and informative discussion about the roles of people of faith in the current campaign for abolition of policing as we have known it.


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 17 and 24, and the August issue of the Washington Socialist will be sent Friday, July 30, with an article deadline of July 25. 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.

What does MDC DSA do, actually? Surprises may abound in this annotated list of our activities – campaigns, working groups, caucuses and how our local chapter runs its, um, business. It’s a great resource for new members or existing members wondering what to do with quarantine. Check out our chapter structure here. Members of campaigns are of course contacting us at #publications regularly to keep individual entries current and informative (you know who you are).


IN THE JULY ISSUE OF THE 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 - Police brutality is not simply a problem of individual racist police officers but is a result of a class dynamic;
  • Defunding MPD - policy impacts are beginning to be felt, and left and insurgent strategies have knitted together in this review of local protest activity;
  • Hogan Unemployment Fiasco - Working people have hit the streets, unions have pushed back on behalf of all workers and legislators have been attentive;
  • Black Radicalism on the Eastern Shore - remembering the contributions of Maryland organizer Gloria Richardson, part of the forgotten history of radicalism in Maryland;
  • Reflections: the 1992 riots - In 1992 police violence and its aftermath led to large demonstrations in Los Angeles’ communities of color and in D.C.’s fast-changing Mount Pleasant neighborhood;
  • Union Building for the Long Haul - this book review 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 advances but further steps toward that goal will have to wait for Democratic wins in Senate and White House;
  • The Time for Statehood is Now - A shadow member of Congress reviews why statehood is of critical importance;
  • On Electoral Strategy - Franklin Roberts considers DSA’s electoral strategy amid capacity and resource questions;
  • Enforcing the First Amendment - government employees must respect the First Amendment rights of citizens;
  • Remembering Dr. Howard Croft - Dr. Howard Croft, DC Statehood advocate and longtime member of Metro DC DSA from its earliest days, is remembered by activists who knew him.

EVENTS FROM OUR ALLIES IN THE DMV

Tuesday, July 14 | 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
The Black Freedom Struggle in Maryland - Maryland Historical Society
This online event facilitated by Dr. Richard Bell, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland and colleagues, Dr. Christopher Bonner, Dr. Michael Ross, and Dr. Elsa Barkley Brown will explore challenges faced by African Americans from the early 19th century to early 20th century. Key areas of focus will include African American soldiers in the Civil War, the Colonization Movement and the Jim Crow era in Maryland. Instructions for accessing the Zoom meeting will be forwarded by email following registration.

Sunday, July 12 | 2:00 to 4:00 PM
Our Revolution Prince George’s monthly meeting
Discussing the county’s policing problems and reforms 2-3 with Changemakers (Crystal Oriadha and Amity Pope), then proposed county charter amendment raising property taxes and ballot measure tightening term limits. Email our.revolution.prince.georges@gmail.com for access info.

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. 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. For more about this program, contact frankrgervasi@gmail.com

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.

Saturday, August 22 | 3:00 PM
Black Celebration - Juneteenth plus
Baker Park Bandshell, Frederick, MD
This year’s Black Celebration (Juneteenth), aimed at supporting the black community, will feature local entertainment in the form of black-owned businesses, vendors, artists, dancers, food trucks, and more. College student Alexus Washington has worked to shape this event to sharpen “the message of proudly embracing one’s blackness [so it] will expand to black youth, and counteract what blacks have time and time again been taught - that being black is “something less-than and something to be feared.”


GOOD READS

Samuel Miller McDonald discusses recent historical evidence of solidarity and how we can reproduce and perpetuate it, even while being world-weary, tired, broke, and broken. He demonstrates three practical ways to enact solidarity in our daily lives, and how to support it. From Current Affairs.

Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute have a projection (with map) of how quickly unemployment will rise with the layoff or re-layoffs that result from the virus spike in Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere (due to poorly managed “reopening”, though EPI kindly doesn’t dwell on that).

Another from Current Affairs - a scathing analysis of our tech-bro overlords, and how they have appropriate the worst (and lamest) aspects of science fiction fandom to justify their egotistical business and political decisions.

Stomp Out Slumlords are providing recurrent updates on their renter organizing work. Their perspective provides great insight into the nuts and bolts of organizing for change.

Academics have begun to parse the remarkable political differences governing personal responses to scientists’ consensus advice on COVID-19 health practices, such as mask/no mask. Tom Edsall of the NYT takes a deep dive.

In other hyper-local organizer news, one DSA member has recounted their experience attempting to organize at Whole Foods - from the Midwest Socialist, the publication of our comrades out in the midwest.

“It doesn’t seem that we have any knowledge about how to create high-quality schools at scale under conditions of concentrated poverty,” says one sociologist engaged in a longitudinal study of school funding and outcomes. Solutions for historical residential segregation and community poverty are part of the mix, as shown in this account from the Hechinger Report, which blows holes in the way Trump’s DeVos gang parses the money side of education.

From The Nation - this article has attracted significant attention on the left. Although some have noted it may be too general, there are good points that are important for any self-described leftist to consider. Still, the article’s hyper-focus on DSA feels a offputting. A perspective from one local member: “There’s a pretty big difference between a group saying that it embraces Black leadership and demonstrably changing its culture and practices so that Black leadership is centered and followed. Pretending that this isn’t a serious, ongoing, widespread issue within almost every white-led or white-dominated leftist organization is to ignore and deny the actual reality of leftists of color who have to struggle within those organizations every day.”


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