DATE: June 1, 2020
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Earlier today, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Chief of Police Peter Newsham declared a citywide 7 p.m. curfew, citing downtown “looting” and “destruction of property”—an obvious provocation to the demonstrators who have been moved to action by the brutal murder of George Floyd, as well as a voter suppression tactic that will prevent people of color from exercising both their right to protest and vote in tomorrow’s primary election. As President Donald Trump gave his address tonight, hundreds of peaceful protesters gathered just blocks away from the White House in solidarity with those across the country protesting wanton police killings of Black people.
Nearly half an hour before the mayor’s designated curfew, live coverage from multiple news outlets showed dozens of police officers shooting tear gas and rubber bullets and charging into the peaceful crowd without provocation. Shortly after, Trump announced that he had “dispatch[ed] thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers,” to Washington, D.C. His goal is to demoralize workers, especially Black and brown workers, by demonstrating the power of the capitalist state and its monopoly on violence over working people. He must not succeed.
Every one of us must rally against this attempt to suppress a mass movement against police terror. The Trump administration’s tactics amount to fascism—a brutal and immoral use of military power against our city’s people exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech, and their moral rights to stand up against police terror and racial injustice.
Metro D.C. DSA stands with the people of D.C. against this occupying army, which is entirely unaccountable to the residents of our disenfranchised District. As D.C. residents, we demand that Trump withdraw military forces from our city, which will only increase violence. They are not welcome in our city. They are not our protectors, and their presence is an occupation. We must make this occupation untenable through mass resistance by our communities, our unions, and the organizations representing the workers and tenants of D.C. It is incumbent upon our elected council members to stand with the residents of this city and do everything within their power to remove these troops. Failure to do so is an abdication of the people’s power vested in our elected officials and a betrayal of the memory of Black civil rights leaders who fought for and won Home Rule.
In cities across the country, peaceful protests have descended into chaos as police repeatedly use force to instigate confrontation. Countless videos have shown journalists targeted and attacked with rubber bullets and mace simply for covering these demonstrations. Trump’s call for violence is not about “law and order,” it is about sending a message that police are above the law and beyond accountability from our communities and elected leaders.
We must not limit our demands to a one-time withdrawal of these troops. That this has happened once will remain etched into the minds of the people of the District of Columbia until such time as firm guarantees have been established that it can never happen again. We therefore demand not only that the military be removed, but that D.C. be granted statehood and full protection of its own popular sovereignty.
We demand that this happen not simply by empowering the collaborationist establishment of D.C. but by establishing a new local Constitutional Convention, with representatives elected from every ANC single-member district to set a new framework for the governance of D.C. as a state whose constitution will be built upon values of economic and racial justice, strong protections and rights for workers and tenants, and a firm guarantee of the right of the people of D.C. to determine our own destiny.
We love our city, and we will fight with every fiber of our being to protect it.