January 15, 2021

Santa makes a last minute appearance on Capitol Hill, intercepting white supremacy in DC, and Virginia electoral organizing.

January 15, 2021 Weekly Update


  • Keeping fascists out of DC & inauguration planning update
  • Karishma Mehta endorsed by MDC DSA for Virginia’s 49th
  • SATURDAY — Red Rabbits support and protest training meeting

Keeping fascists out of DC – and inauguration planning

Next week, the white nationalist and fascist groups who came to DC on January 6th have threatened to return; meanwhile, 20,000 National Guard troops will be occupying DC. Most DC organizers do not intend on holding counter demonstrations like in previous years.

MDC DSA’s Steering Committee approved the formation of a planning commission for a potential Inauguration Day action in DC and is still deciding on the best course of action in this evolving situation. Please continue to follow DC DSA’s social media and Slack channels to stay up to date on any Inauguration planning. 

However, there are other mobilizations that need your attention. Here are some of the other ways to get involved in the local anti-fascist resistance:

  • Inauguration Day planning — If you’d like to get involved in organizing DSA’s Inauguration Day planning, please fill out this form. More info will be coming soon.
  • Mutual Aid support — Mutual aid organizations across DC will be focused on providing resources and protection to vulnerable people, especially unhoused folks and Black and Brown communities. There is a central donation fund set up by The Palm Collective which will be distributed to various people and organizations, and a full list of trusted groups here.
  • Demand DC’s hotels shutdown — Unite Here Local 25, which represents 7,200 hotel workers in the region, has also called on hotels in the area to close (see full statement here). We continue to call hotels and Mayor Bowser to follow suit and cancel all hotel reservations next week, since we saw on January 6th how failing to do so subjected us to fascist threats and violence. ShutDown DC has a list of hotels and sample scripts here — take some time to call them today to demand they close and pay workers to remain home.

MDC DSA members have been working with local organizers – such as ShutDown DC and BLM DC – to help keep our city safe. Their direction and leadership over the past few weeks has been invaluable in helping keep our city, and the local left, safe and on task. [See more in “Briefs” section of this update.]

Endorsement Passed, MDC DSA endorses Karishma Mehta for Virginia House of Delegates 49th district

Ballots for Resolution 20-12-R04 were open until 11:59pm on January 13th. Three thousand eighty (3,080) members received ballots. Pursuant to the chapter bylaws, the resolution required a two-thirds vote to pass. The total votes cast were 307, meaning 202 votes in favor were needed. With a final count of 215 in favor, 83 against and 8 abstentions, Resolution 20-12-R04 is passed. 

Resolved, that Metro DC DSA endorses Karishma Mehta in her race to represent the working people of House District 49 in the Virginia General Assembly” [and] “authorizes the DSA electoral working group to organize, phonebank, distribute literature, and provide holistic support” for the endorsed candidate. 

A Statement from the NoVA Branch Executive on the vote: We are thrilled with the support of the NoVA branch and our comrades in DC and Maryland for Karishma’s candidacy. This will be a difficult battle against an established incumbent, but these are the battles we should be fighting to displace neoliberal candidates and disrupt the “Virginia Way” by putting more socialists in the halls of power. Karishma is a dedicated member of the NoVA branch and she will be an incredible ally in the General Assembly, especially since her platform mirrors our own values and that of the work we have done since the branch was first formed in 2017.

So what next? Here’s how to get involved:

  • Join us in the #karishma4va Slack channel in MDC DSA’s Slack [not in slack? check out the Info Access section in this newsletter to get plugged in]
  • You can send donations to Karishma’s campaign on ActBlue
  • Use this form to get involved directly in the campaign

 —Helena K (she/they) & Eric S (he/him) NoVA Branch Co-Chairs

(How) We Keep Us Safe! Red Rabbits Support Role and Protest Safety Training

As Democratic Socialists, we know that strength comes from solidarity. While the pandemic and other factors have made it riskier to engage in direct action, they’ve also shown how urgent the need for change is. Join the MDC Red Rabbits for a workshop covering the basics of how to stay safe while protesting during a pandemic, as well as the basics of how to help your comrades as a marshal, de-escalator or police liaison. Sign up here.


January GBM Updates

MDC DSA held its January GBM on 1/10. You can find the full minutes from the meeting on MDC DSA’s Members Portal. Slides from the meeting are linked at the top, as noted in the UP FRONT section, the meeting included a debate on endorsement of Karishma Mehta, who is running in district 49th of the VA House.


Join the Defund MPD working group and Night School for political education events on policing and abolition

In the coming weeks, the Defund MPD working group is gearing up for a DC budget campaign by hosting a series of political education events on policing and abolition — open to all comrades and friends Here are some of the upcoming actions:


MDC DSA Labor Working Group — Organizing Workshop and Speaker Series

Two upcoming events from the labor working group: 

  • RSVP for our first organizing workshop on Jan 27th at 7pm hereIf you have a workplace issue you want to work out or want to talk about what it would take to start up an organizing drive, you can submit that here here.
  • Our first labor speaker will be provided by Arrion Brown from the American Postal Workers Union! The discussion will be on February 1 at 7pm and will be broadcast on Facebook Live. RSVP link to come.

—Sam N, co-chair


Programing and Acting on the US-Fueled Crisis in Yemen

The war in Yemen is one of the world’s most pressing crises right now. What political forces are at work to turn Yemen into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, and how can we get involved to end it? MDC DSA’s Socialist Night School will be hosting a presentation and Q&A with Jehan Hakin from the Yemeni Alliance Committee on January 18, at 6:30 PM EST. 

Then, on Monday, January 25, humanitarian activists from all over the world are coming together for an international day of action on January 25th 2021. Join Metro DC DSA’s Internationalism Working Group and other anti-imperialist organizations work to bring an end to the War on Yemen. If you want to get involved, please let us know in the #Internationalism Slack or email internationalism@mdcdsa.org.


AirBnB cancels all reservations in DC for Inauguration week

Many of the white nationalists who came to DC last week also stayed at AirBnBs. After much pressure from people across the DMV, and coordinated calls to AirBNB and hosts as part of the #DontRentDC effort, AirBnB has officially cancelled all reservations for DC next week! The effort, led by ShutDown DC and BLM DC, was joined by many activists and organizations across the city, including DSA. Thank you to all who helped out.

As outlined in the UP FRONT section of this update, the next step is getting hotels to close and pay their workers for lost wages. You can watch this press conference, delivered by BLM DC and ShutDown, to hear more about these demands.


MDC DSA Queer Caucus Eyes Status Change

Thank you to everyone who joined one of the 2021 planning sessions for the Queer Caucus (QC)! 

Given the work many QC comrades and I would like to undertake, I believe it makes sense for the QC to become a section. Sections were introduced in the recently updated chapter bylaws with “the purpose of creating a shared space for members of a common identity.” Becoming a section would allow the QC to access chapter resources without being dedicated to a specific campaign or policy issue like working groups. We would retain our queer focus and membership.

To become a section an application with the signatures of at least five MDC DSA members, a mission statement and bylaws need to be submitted to the Steering Committee. If you would like to help with the process and/or be a signatory please send me a Slack message or an email!

—Nate H, Chair of the Queer Caucus

January 23, join Stomp out Slumlords and tell the Biden Administration to #CancelRent !

Join Stomp out Slumlords and tenants from across DC as we march on the home of a senior Biden official! As socialists, we know that we need to pressure the Biden administration to provide real relief to the working class after ten months and counting of a devastating pandemic. We are marching to demand the administration cancel rent and ban evictions nationwide to ensure that no one has to choose rent over food.

Register to attend or volunteer for the action here.

Support grassroots organizers in DC

The Palm Collective has organized a fundraiser to support frontline activists who organize mutual aid efforts and protest against systemic racism, fascism and capitalism in DC. Groups will receive funds on a weekly basis via their CashApp or Venmo accounts. Contributors to this GoFundMe can even access a weekly transparency report — Palm Collective will break down exactly how it disburses the funds each week.

Donate to the Ongoing Mutual Aid for DC Frontliners & Activists fund here.


Call for Symposium Participants – “Constructing the New Social Compact”

Groups (like MDC DSA) and individuals are invited to propose “panels, workshops, presentations, individual talks or papers, cultural offerings, videos or other proposals for conveying ideas” on a long list of themes. For more, view the call for proposals, which also has a linked form for making such proposals (deadline January 31).

The symposium, “Constructing the New Social Compact: A Public Forum on Empowering the Post-Pandemic Working Class” is set for April 28- May 1, organized by the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.


Virginia Political and Electoral Organizing – Saturdays @7pm Co-op Meetups

A number of progressive leaders from various communities in Virginia are organizing for Virginia’s 2021 elections and beyond. We conduct weekly Zoom meetings on Saturdays @ 7pm. We work towards building a statewide political co-op in Virginia similar to the RI Political Cooperative and develop an Inclusive Policy Platform for candidate sign-on, covering policies that all of Virginia’s progressive organizations ardently support. If you’re interested in getting involved in this, please take this survey as the first step in achieving this goal and planning new grassroots initiatives.  

Virginia Political Cooperative is looking to fill several positions on various committees specially on the Platform and Digital Outreach areas. Please let us know if you can help. Please remember to complete the survey and send your request for Zoom link to alik0219@gmail.com. Looking forward to connecting and working together!

Peace and Solidarity,
Aliyah K


Saturday, January 16 

2 – 5pm | NoVA Anti-Eviction Canvass
The NoVA Branch Tenant Organizing Working Group will be canvassing to provide support to tenants facing evictions and discussing the possibilities of organizing against their landlord.

2 – 4pm | (How) We Keep Us Safe! Red Rabbits Support Role and Protest Safety Training
A workshop covering the basics of how to stay safe while protesting during a pandemic, as well as the basics of how to help your comrades as a marshal, de-escalator or police liaison. Register here. 

7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Book Club: The Case Against Free Speech 
The next NoVA Book Club will discuss P.E. Moskowitz’s The Case Against Free Speech. You can purchase the ebook here or purchase it physically from AK Press and keep your dollars away from Jeff Bezos!

Sunday, January 17

6 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Working Group Monthly Meeting

5 – 6pm | M4A Weekly Meeting

Monday, January 18

6:30 – 8:30pm | Ending the War in Yemen | Socialist Night School
Faced with a humanitarian catastrophe created by US-Saudi complicity, join a teach-in with Jehan Hakim of the Yemeni Alliance Committee on the war in Yemen and the role of the United States, as well as DSA and other activists’ role in the January 25 Day of Action. Register here.

Tuesday, January 19

7 – 8:30pm | Biweekly MDC DSA Steering Committee Meeting
All members are welcome to attend. Get virtual access in Slack #steering or #announcements channels.

Wednesday, January 20

8 – 9pm | Why You Should Join DSA
New to DSA? Haven’t joined yet? Recently joined? Find out how you can get involved with us in building a brighter socialist future!

Thursday, January 21

6:30 – 8:30pm | Police, Police Unions and Racial Capitalism | Socialist Night School
As we fight racial capitalism as enforced by police, a major obstacle opposing any and all reform or even criticism are police unions. How do police operate as political actors? What is the role of police unions in preventing reform, defunding and abolition? An expert panel and discussion. 

7 – 8:30pm | NoVA DSA Monthly Organizing Meeting
We will be welcoming new members and discussing planning for our current actions and working groups. Candidates for the NoVA Branch Executive election will be speaking in support of their candidacy at this meeting prior to the sending of ballots.


Sunday, January 24

2 – 4pm | Socialist Feminist Reading Group

2:30 – 4pm | Environmental Racism in DC — What Is Energy Democracy?
This is part one of a four-part reading group on environmental racism in DC. In this first discussion, our readings will focus on the principles of energy democracy, Pepco’s legacy of pollution and a high-level overview of the environmental issues facing DC residents. 

7 – 8pm | Critical Whiteness: Reading Ian Haney López White by Law
Examining how racial categorization became instrumental in defining who is and is not a citizen and analyzing how whiteness continues to shape our understanding of citizenship and belonging. 


Wednesday, January 27

7 – 8pm | Workplace Organizing Workshop
Join the Metro DC DSA Labor Working Group for our new monthly Workplace Organizing Workshop! If you are thinking about organizing your workplace, have started already (whether with a union or not) or just want to learn more about how to do it, come on out!

7 – 9pm | Prince George’s Branch MDC DSA General Meeting
Organizing on issues for Prince George’s and Maryland in our GBM. Members and interested progressives are welcome!

8 – 9pm | Why You Should Join DSA
New to DSA? Haven’t joined yet? Recently joined? Find out how you can get involved with us in building a brighter socialist future!


Saturday, January 30

1 – 2:30pm | Walking Tour of DC’s Policing Landscape | Defund MPD Working Group
Want to learn more about the organizations that police DC? Put on your walking shoes and join the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America’s Defund MPD Workgroup for a socially distant downtown DC walking tour! We’ll visit sites related to policing in downtown DC and hear information and original research provided from volunteer tour guides.


Weekly or regularly recurring events:

NoVA Tenant Organizing Planning Meeting:
Wednesdays – 5 to 6pm (new time!!)
Saturdays – Canvasses scheduled as needed

Medicare 4 ALL (#M4A) Workgroup:
Sundays – 5 to 6pm

New Member Orientation:
Wednesdays – 8 to 9pm
New to DSA? New-ish? Joined a while back and want to get involved again? Find out how we can build a brighter socialist future together! We’ll talk about our working groups and how you can get involved in building real power with your fellow comrades.

To stay current with MDC DSA events between Updates, check the chapter calendar. Branches may have separate calendars and schedules.


Screening and Q&A: Sixteen Thousand Dollars: A Comedy Short on Reparations
Monday January 18 | 7pm EST
Screening and Q&A on Sixteen Thousand Dollars: A Comedy Short on Reparations with filmmaker Symone Baptiste; creative team members Brodie Reed and Ellington Wells; and moderator Bianca Cunningham. Join the Democratic Socialists of America Fund, DSA’s Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus (AFROSOC) and Dissent magazine for a discussion of the film and the issues …

48 Years of Roe v Wade: No Reproductive Freedom without Medicare for All
Wednesday, January 23 | 4pm EST
​January marks 48 years since Roe v Wade legalized abortion in all 50 states, and reproductive rights and abortion access has only gotten worse, with states attempting to ban abortion and closing down hundreds of clinics over the last decade. Not only has abortion access been eroded, but reproductive oppression like forced sterilization of immigrants …

Sunday, January 24 | 3pm EST
Interested in DSA but haven’t joined yet? Looking to get involved in the fights to stop evictions, win Medicare for All, or defund the police, but unsure how to get started? Frustrated with the limited possibilities of national, top-down politics and looking for an alternative? 

Socialist Feminist Day School Session One
Saturday, January 30 | 4 – 6pm EST
The Socialist Feminist Working Group of the Democratic Socialists of America invites you to the first session of an eight-week Day School. Our first session will provide an introduction to socialist feminist thinking and organizing.

Talking Union, Talking Queer: DSA National Queer Socialists Working Group January Meeting 
Sunday, January 31 | 3 – 4:30pm EST
QSWG’s monthly meeting will be held on Sunday January 31 from 3 – 4:30pm EST. You can join the working group here and/or RSVP here.


Thursday, January 21

6:30pm | Right to Housing Committee Meeting (ONLINE)
ONE DC’s Right to Housing committee supports long-time DC residents to fight against displacement and for safe and affordable housing. At ONE DC, we believe in the universal right to housing. RSVP here.


Publications Schedule: The Pubs Working Group has scheduled January’s remaining Update for Friday, January 22. The February issue of the Washington Socialist will be sent Friday, January 29 and the article deadline is Saturday, January 23. 

But, uh, who or what is the Pubs Working Group?

The Publications Working Group (#publications on Slack) is one of the longest-standing WGs in MDC DSA and is responsible for much of the chapter’s outward-facing communications — in particular for the chapter’s Friday Updates and for monthly issues (online since 2012) of the Washington Socialist newsletter, which publishes longer articles on socialist thought and action at all levels from the personal to the global.

The Pubs WG interlocks with the Comms department of the chapter’s Administrative Committee in recruiting and developing writers, editors, web specialists and design folks to be backup for all the chapter’s communications, both outward facing and internal, at need. As our chapter takes a lead in all our DMV communities’ responsible emergence from the COVID-19 crisis, Pubs WG will provide more non-digital content for outreach and organizing, such as posters, fliers and print brochures.

Members who indicate interest and skills in any of those comms specialties on our member survey have been or will be contacted to join this integral part of MDC DSA’s public face and representation. Achieving a socialist society means forging a wide consensus that socialism and socialist reforms have earned fair consideration by the public. That is our particular job, and our passion, in the Pubs WG.  

To contact us directly, email thesocialist@mdcdsa.org

And speaking of Slack — Are you an MDC DSA member who wonders how to get on our chapter Slack? Just email info@mdcdsa.org and identify yourself as a member. Put “request for #Slack” in the subject line. Use the email address by which national DSA knows you. If you are a new member, forward the email receipt that national DSA sent you acknowledging your status. Please be patient; our admin committee is loaded with chores and shorthanded to boot. Our Slack platform, with numerous channels for all our caucuses, branches, campaigns and working groups, is a great place to get connected with the kind of socialist work YOU want to do in DSA.


  • Shared by our comrade Nate H, Chair of the Queer Caucus: Tensions have been high, particularly on Instagram and Twitter, in the Queer community about the role of public shaming during a global pandemic. Why the Public Shaming of GaysOverCovid Sparked a “Gay Civil War” explores the privilege and affluence of attendees who recently travelled to Mexico for a circuit party that endangered local workers and the public.

  • Good Listen: Chris Hedges in colloquy with Dr. Cornel West … ’nuff said.

  • Of interest from the Prospect — Bob Kuttner reminds us of Napoleon’s advice: “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Hence Kuttner’s advice: Lefties: Stay Away From This Weekend’s Disruptions

  • Described as “the Republicans’ biggest nightmare” as Dems take tacit Senate control: Bernie as chair of the Budget Committee. Here are some prospects, via the NYT’s economics writers.

  • Who wonders whether a permanent social media ban on Donald Trump is a good idea? Edward Snowden warns against it.

  • Tech workers organize around non-core worker issues. Result: “a common pattern in organizing in the tech industry: campaigns are formulated around ethical and social issues, which have limited success and are unable to escalate beyond petitions and public statements.”

  • Written by a DSA member out in Colorado, this piece explores the nature of modern conspiracy, capitalism, and mental illness. Drawing from his past as an evangelical and in sober-living communities, the author explores how material circumstances churn into the sort of nightmare fuel that breeds alienation and isolation. Essential reading for understanding QAnon and the sort of thought loops that have pulled so much of the country into the arms of the fascist right.

  • Recommended by our local comrade Ben D, in this piece from Collective Power Network’s The OrganizerMaterialism Not Metaphor — Sacramento DSA’s Annabel V. argues that our movement must win more concretely than “sparking consciousness,” and that metaphorical language and goals distract organizers from the work of material gains.

  • From Organizing Upgrade, Bargaining for the Common Good is building community interests into union bargaining and broadens the context of, well, class struggle.

  • “Tech giants were right to ban the president. We still need to break them up,” opines Michelle Goldberg in the NYT. She thinks they should be broken up, echoing Elizabeth Warren. Now that Trump and the fascist Right are getting the back of the hand from Big Tech, right-wing columnist Frank Miele argues in RealClearPolitics that the social media giants should be nationalized.

  • How did the Capitol coup come about? A conflux of right-wing fear campaigns, coupled with well-oiled establishment propaganda campaigns. This report in Documented lays out the old-school, corporate-backed Republican electoral machines that drummed up support for the “protest.”

  • What online radicalizing processes take place to form groups like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters or others who swarmed the Capitol January 6? The NYT’s Ben Smith harks back to his days at BuzzFeed, where virality was being refined as business practice and aspirational lifestyle, and to individual stories that found their way to video that shambolic Wednesday, years later. And don’t pass up the watermelon link.

  • And how do you explain an opportunistic young senator at the center of the Capitol violence — a product of elite schools? Here’s a try, tipped to the Oldest Editor by a Pittsburgh comrade of like vintage: The Roots of Josh Hawley’s Rage  

  • More than 250 Black cops have sued the Capitol Police since 2001, citing numerous instances of racism. ProPublica details examples of various allegations and illustrates how January 6’s Capitol insurrection came as no surprise to many Black Capitol police officers who have warned for years about the department’s racial discrimination issues.

  • And MDC DSA comrade Chip Gibbons pens a piece in Jacobin on the case against using the Capitol riot to introduce new domestic terrorism legislation expanding state surveillance powers, warning against the potential backlash that might threaten the left.

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