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January 28, 2021
DSA turns out for Initiative 82 — canvassing operation continues this weekend
Phonebank for Brandy Brooks for County Council — Tuesday, February 1
Heightened tensions in Ukraine prompt fears of war in Eastern Europe
DSA turns out for Initiative 82 — canvassing operation continues this weekend
Last week, the DSA fanned out across Petworth to collect signatures to get Initiative 82 — a proposal that would gradually phase out DC’s tipped minimum wage — on the ballot. 24 DSA volunteers collected 390 signatures. Though the signature total is close, we are still down by a little over 1,000 valid signatures.
DSA is planning to lead canvasses this weekend on Saturday (1/29) and Sunday (1/30). If you’ve attended a petition circulator training, you can sign-up for one of these canvasses here. (If you haven’t attended a training but would like to begin circulation, you can fill out and note that in the sign-up form, we’ll see if we can get you trained up in the interim.)
DC voters passed a similar proposal back in 2018 with 55% in the affirmative, overcoming a shocking misinformation campaign rolled out by corporations and business groups. Despite the positive vote, the DC Council overturned the will of voters in order to placate corporate interests in the city. Since then, the Council has moved to the left, and boosters of I82 now believe there’s a clear path for this new initiative to be implemented. (Want to read more about I82 and political developments related to the tipped wage? Check out our small archive on Washington Socialist.)
Phonebank for Brandy Brooks for County Council — Tuesday, February 1
At 6pm on Tuesday, February 1, the Brandy Brooks campaign will be making calls to working-class voters in Gaithersburg, MD, and they’ve asked DSA members to turn out. This is a virtual phone bank, and we will use a predictive dialer to maximize our call time. This is a good opportunity to support our endorsed MDC DSA candidate and comrade Brandy Brooks, as well as get comfortable talking about Brandy’s candidacy with voters as the campaign heats up. RSVP here!
DSA members have been hitting the pavement over the last few weeks to canvass for our endorsed candidates in Maryland (Max Socol, Brandy Brooks, Gabe Acevero) and DC (Zach Parker). Victories in these races would undeniably shift political realities in Maryland and DC. In Maryland, it would install clear socialists in the Montgomery Council and in the Maryland House and Senate — providing socialists and our progressive allies the power needed to move away from Hogan’s right-wing influence on the state. In DC, a Parker victory in Ward 5 would mean a real socialist bloc on the DC Council, which puts things like rent control, poverty decriminalization, higher wages and expanded public transit on the table for District residents. (You can sign-up for our general electoral operations here.)
Heightened tensions in Ukraine prompt fears of war in Eastern Europe
Earlier this week, President Biden notified 8,500 US troops on alert for possible deployment to Europe in response to significant mobilization of the Russian military at the Ukrainian border in the Donbass region. Russia had previously released a list of demands as a precursor for reducing tensions in Europe, which includes a ban on Ukraine’s entry into NATO. Although American troops may be stationed to Eastern Europe, at time of writing President Biden has made clear that none of the military options being considered include deployment of American troops to Ukraine.
Within Ukraine there are distinct identities and traditions that complicate its international associations. The south and east of Ukraine has cultural and economic ties to Russia, while other regions assert Ukraine as a cultural and political entity distinct from Russia (to be very clear — Ukraine’s anti-Russia political bloc also includes far-right nationalists and neo-nazis). This has made the question of Ukrainian entry into NATO and/or the European Union a constant source of tension in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. Recall, too, that in 1991 a huge 92 percent of Ukrainians voted to be an independent nation.
Russian leaders have maintained that Ukrainian participation in NATO or the European Union would represent an existential threat to its nation. Though NATO is undeniably a source of needless tension in Eastern Europe (the DSA International Committee opposes US participation in NATO), Putin’s Russia has provoked Ukraine by force and escalated conflicts before. In 2014, Russia seized control of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and has been instigating fights in the Donbass region to shake pro-NATO, pro-EU sentiments out of the Ukrainian population.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent market-oriented reformation that followed, Ukraine has found itself dominated by a cycle of corrupt oligarchs who either choose close ties to Russia or exploit fears of Russia to justify concentration of their power. Exhausted by the constant turmoil and conflict created by these rivaling sets of oligarchs, there has been little space in post-Soviet Ukraine for leftist or democratic forces to rally. In 2019, the election of independent populist Volodymry Zelenskyi brought a new sense of optimism; however Zelenskyi’s administration has been bogged down by nationalist saber-rattling from the Ukrainian right and unwavering pressure from an aggressive Russia, tempering hopes for a lasting peace in Eastern Europe.
Testify at the DC Council’s Police Budget Oversight Hearing
On February 17, 2022, the DC Council will hold a performance oversight hearing for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Office of Police Complaints (OPC). The hearing is an opportunity for District residents to speak directly to Councilmembers on the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety and demand change within these agencies. Individuals and organizations can share their experiences and ask Councilmembers to reallocate resources from MPD to alternatives to police, which makes our community and DC residents safer.
To appear and testify live, please email email@example.com. In your email, include your name, organization, and if you are testifying for MPD, OPC or both. If you are the first or only person speaking on behalf of your organization, you will get five minutes to testify. Any other person representing that organization will have three minutes to testify. If you testify on behalf of yourself, you also get three minutes to testify. To submit written testimony, email firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm on March 4, 2022.
DC Justice Lab is available to assist Defund MPD Coalition members — including the Metro DC DSA, Police Reform Commissioners and individual survivors of police violence with questions and preparation. For more information, please contact email@example.com. You can also share your comments, experiences, ideas and questions with DC Justice Lab using this google form.
Fund Workers, Not Cops — Defund MPD virtual discussion on February 10, 7pm
On February 10 at 7pm, join workers in the DMV, along with the Defund MPD Coalition, for a virtual discussion hosted by Metro DC DSA on policing, organized labor, and how we win funding for communities. Hear more about the demands of the Coalition to refund workers, the history of police and labor, why police unions aren’t real unions, and how the struggle to reduce funding for police and refund our communities aligns with workers’ values and goals. Following a brief presentation, we’ll have small-group breakouts to discuss policing and labor, including any questions and hesitations you may have, as well as ways to engage in our demands through the upcoming budget season. Register here!
Upcoming Socialist Night School: Puerto Rico’s Fight Against Colonialism — Thursday, February 10
This session will meet from 6:30 to 8:30pm to cover important events going back to the US invasion of Puerto Rico in 1898, through its colonial history, the internal resistance against imperialism and the ultimate goal of independence. RSVP here.
Reimagining Public Space Without the Police — March 5 at Oxon Run Park
How might we come together as a community through art, live music and storytelling to imagine and materialize the public spaces we want in our city that truly keep us safe? As part of the Defund MPD Working Group and in collaboration with musicians from Block-tober Fest, comrades Sela L. (she/they) and Amanda L. (she/they) will be co-hosting a workshop on March 5 in SE DC to engage residents in creatively reimagining public space without the police. Able to volunteer childcare, interpretation, timekeeping or other services and/or assist with in-kind donations? Contact Sela or Amanda via Slack!
Volunteer with Metro DC DSA’s Food | Justice Working Group!
Calling all comrades interested in gardening, mutual aid, community engagement and learning about food justice issues! The Food | Justice Working Group is gearing up for an exciting 2022 driven by the interests of our members, from gardening and composting to mutual aid and connecting residents with public services. If you’re interested, fill out our member survey to join us and get started!
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses — Medicare 4 All Reading Group Starting Soon!
You’re invited to join the Medicare 4 All Reading Group starting Wednesday, February 9 at 7pm! This group will be reading Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, which traces the history of western healthcare from the perspective of women as healers. It shows how the healthcare system was taken over by capital, laying the structural foundation for the issues we face today. You don’t have to be a member to join (invite your friends!) — everyone is welcome! Sign up here!
Seven arrested at sit-in organized by Palestinian Youth Movement at the Israeli embassy in DC
This past Sunday, Palestinian Youth Movement DMV organized a protest and sit-in at the Israeli embassy in DC to demand a halt to settlement expansions in Jerusalem, Naqab and Al-Khalil, an end to US military funding to Israel and fair media coverage that does not obscure the realities of apartheid. This escalation comes shortly after the demolition of the Salhiya family home which left 18 homeless in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighborhood of Jerusalem which grabbed international headlines this past summer. Following a community action in front of the embassy on Sunday where hundreds showed up in solidarity, demonstrators set up tents and occupied the ground outside the embassy. Seven protestors were arrested for civil disobedience, demonstrating their support and commitment to Palestinian resistance against ongoing ethnic cleansing. Follow the Palestinain Youth Movement here for updates on future actions. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!
DSA, BDS and Electoral Accountability Forum Saturday February 5th at 3pm
The DSA BDS & Palestine Solidarity Working Group will be hosting a forum on DSA, BDS and electoral accountability on Saturday, February 5th at 3pm. The forum will focus on how to build electoral accountability from the bottom-up, featuring organizers from Boston DSA and our very own Metro DC chapter, as well as from the Palestinian Youth Movement. There will also be time for Q&A and resource sharing for political education, BDS campaigns, candidate questionnaires, and more. Please join us and save your spot here.
BDS Palestine Campaign Meeting Thursday, February 3rd at 8pm
Join Metro DC comrades for our chapter’s first BDS Palestine campaign meeting of 2022 on Thursday, February 3rd from 8 to 9:30pm! We will discuss our recent accomplishments and debrief on this past year, as well as start to set our goals for the upcoming year and continue working on political education and community engagement initiatives. All are welcome and new ideas are encouraged. We hope you will join us this coming Thursday! Register to get the Zoom link here and join the #bds-palestine-solidarity channel on Slack.
Internationalism Working Group holding elections for co-chairs!
The Internationalism Working Group is electing new co-chairs and establishing new leadership roles for 2022 in an effort to build capacity and power for internationalist issues in the DMV! Membership of the WG will elect the two co-chairs, who will then appoint members to other positions such as BDS Palestine, Latin America, Communications, and Political Education leads. If you are interested in running to be a co-chair or take on a leadership role, please fill out this form and come to the upcoming Internationalism Working Group meeting on Thursday, February 17th at 7pm. Register here to get a Zoom link. Everyone interested is encouraged to consider applying, no experience needed!
Wondering if you are up to date on your DSA dues? That’s how you stay current nationally AND locally. Here’s the link to find out your paid-up status with national DSA http://proof.dsausa.org/ — you may be a socialist in your heart, but as DSA’s founder once said, “an unorganized socialist is a contradiction in terms.” BTW you can contribute $ to our local MDC DSA chapter separately at this link and also by getting your externals right via shopping our merch store.
Between Friday publications of the Update, MDC DSA members can keep up with fast-breaking activities and news — and participate in the activist traffic — on the MDC DSA Slack. If you are a member in good standing (self-check process is shown one entry above) and want to get on (or stay on) Slack, contact firstname.lastname@example.org using the email by which national DSA knows you.
Publications Schedule: The Weekly Update will publish on Fridays, February 4, 11, 18 and 25, and the February Washington Socialist drops Friday, February 4 (we postponed for one week!).
The Washington Socialist has a rich archive, indexed by issues, in our Topic Hub here. See what we have been writing, and get ideas about topics that could be updated or articles that (gulp) could be improved upon. Send your articles to email@example.com.
A big-tent organization like MDC DSA is no homogenous pudding but a swarm composed of many campaigns and tendencies putting thought into action. Organizationally, what do we look like? Here are our internal formations and campaigns, articulated and active, with contact info. Get to know the big picture outside your immediate campaign or issue. See something missing or have new information about your activity or campaign? Contact the MDC DSA infosphere at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll work with you to get it freshened.
DSA CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Friday, January 28
Sunday, January 30
1 – 2pm | VetSoc Study Group
5 – 6pm | WePower DC 101 Info Session
Monday, January 31
Tuesday, February 1
Wednesday, February 2
Thursday, February 3
8 – 9:30pm | BDS Palestine Campaign Meeting
8 – 9:30pm | Defund MPD Organizational Outreach
Saturday, February 5
Monday, February 7
6 – 7:30pm | Defund MPD Working Group Biweekly Meeting
Wednesday, February 9
Thursday, February 10
6:30 – 8:30pm | Puerto Rico’s Fight Against Colonialism | Socialist Night School
7 – 9pm | Defund MPD Labor Night
Wednesday, February 16
Thursday, February 17
7 – 8:30pm | Internationalism Working Group Monthly Meeting
7 – 8:30pm | NoVA Branch Monthly Organizing Meeting
Sunday, February 20
2 – 4pm | PG Co. DSA February General Body Meeting
Wednesday, February 23
Miner Elementary Community Table | Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid
On Saturday, January 29, Serve Your City returns to Miner Elementary School with FREE groceries, masks, and other resources for the community! Distribution will take place from 11am-12pm. To donate items to the community table, email MinerMutualAid@gmail.com. Serve Your City also has new merch dropping, more on that here!
Call for Abolitionist Artists | Heal Da Homies
Heal Da Homies is partnering with For Everyone Collective to create content and merchandise for educational materials and to fundraise for their future community space. They currently seek submissions from abolitionist artists for a new t-shirt design centering around one of the following themes: “Build Community, Destroy Institutions,” “Starve the Prison System, Fuel the Movement,” or “We Keep Us Safe.” Artists will be rightfully compensated for their work.
Put a Stop to Senior Hunger | DC Greens
The No Senior Hungry Omnibus Amendment Act of 2021 would help DC take impactful steps toward addressing senior food insecurity. On Monday, February 14 at 10am, the DC Committee on Housing & Executive Administration will hold a hearing on this important legislation, and DC Greens is asking for your help in submitting testimony (live or via phone/email) to support the bill. Email the DC Housing Committee at email@example.com or call (202) 724-8198 to sign up to testify. Find more resources on how to advocate for the No Senior Hungry Bill on DC Greens’ website.
WIC CVC fruit and veggie bonus checks are on their way for January, February and March. They will be sent to DC WIC participants in the mail and can be used at WIC-approved grocery/corner stores. Spend each check before the “last day to use” listed. Call your local WIC office for more info or check out dcwic.org.
Magazine Seeks Stories and Essays about an Anti-Capitalist Future
After The Storm is a digital publication that describes a world beyond our current oppressive society, we want to tell stories that span beyond white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, imperialism, capitalism and so much more. We operate under the assumption that to reach a place, you first have to imagine it.
And we want your vision of that future! We will be paying $50 for writers in the DC area for all accepted stories, sponsored by Metro DC DSA. Send your pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our submission guide here.
Volunteer with the Museum of Palestinian People
The Museum of Palestinian People in DC is seeking virtual and in-person volunteers to support its online and in-person programming as well as museum docents/tour guides. The museum runs arts and culture events that relate to the Palestinian people, such as cooking classes, book talks, documentary screenings, interviews, embroidery workshops, and more. Palestinians and Palestinian Americans are espeically encouraged to inquire. You can find out more information and express interest in volunteering here. Feel free to reach out to Metro DC comrade Rose with any questions or for more information at email@example.com. Please note the museum is non-political and focuses on cultural and community events. Donate to support the museum’s work here.
Baldwin House Dreaming & Fundraising Event
On February 1st from 6 to 7:30pm, Envisioning Baldwin House, a community housing coop, mutual aid hub and fightback against gentrification. Register here to join Baldwin House Community Collective and ONE DC for this virtual dreaming and building event. More About ONE DC.
GOOD READS / ESSENTIAL TRAFFIC
In Jacobin: “On election day in Chile, private bus companies refused to transport working-class voters to polls to help the right-wing candidate. The Left and unions rapidly organized to counteract the boycott.”
Workers at an REI store in Manhattan are seeking to form the first REI union; in a familiar pattern, the ostensibly progressive CEO wrote, “… we do not believe placing a union between the co-op and its employees is needed or beneficial.” More in NYT.
An evergreen from The Abolitionist: “The Demand Is, Still, Defund the Police”
You don’t need to watch a 2.5 hr documentary to understand why NFTs and cryptocurrency are bad ideas (at best … they are exploitative scams at their worse) but a new documentary from popular video essayist Folding Ideas explains the market-based bent of these technologies. A very useful analysis with a very clear socialist, anti-capitalist bent. (A particularly important segment important to socialists and organizers comes in Chapter 12, which examines the way con artists appropriate the language of labor unions + economic cooperatives to trick would-be lefties and anti-capitalists into buying into these schemes).
As nuclear-armed nations square up and rattle their sabers on Ukraine’s border, intervention in the broader escalation spiral is still possible. See here the just-dropped analysis and recs from Veterans for Peace, who should know a futile conflict.
Taking a page out of several racist policies from other states like Texas and Florida and delivering on a campaign promise, newly-elected Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) signed an Executive Order (EO) that bans Critical Race Theory (CRT) in all schools. While CRT has never been taught in K-12 schools in Virginia, the EO is a clearly racist attempt to prohibit any education and public awareness around diversity, inclusion, equity and understanding of America’s racist history. What’s more, Youngkin opened a “tip line” (i.e., an email) inviting parents to report on teachers who are teaching “divisive” issues. To counter his attack on public education and his clear intent on white-washing public education, Virginians can contact their local legislative representatives in the House and Senate and tell them to fight the Governor on these. They can also contact their local school board representatives with the same message. And for now, flood the “tip email” (firstname.lastname@example.org) with praise for Virginia teachers or bogus messages.
The flame of thought, the magnificence of art, the wonder of discovery, and the audacity of invention all belong to revolutionary periods when humanity, tired of the chains of its restrictions, shatters them, and stops inebriated to breathe the breeze of a vaster and freer horizon.