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Statement Re: Rumors that COS DSA Defends Abusers

We are issuing this statement as a chapter to address recent events and the misinformation that have permeated the local community leading to rifts among various organizations. WARNING: This statement concerns past incidents of sexual assault and abuse. 

For years, rumors have circulated accusing both Colorado Springs DSA and the Chinook Center of being apologists and defenders of people who have committed sexual assault. Not only is this blatantly untrue, but it is a misrepresentation of the core situation that led to these rumors. That being said, we empathize with those who have encountered these rumors and we understand why people have reacted strongly to the false allegations. We wish to acknowledge that this spread of misinformation has itself been a source of great harm. It has caused unnecessary pain to our members, other Chinook member organizations, and the community at large. This pain has especially been felt by the many survivors of abuse within these circles who have to encounter this false information. We are coming forward with this statement to put a stop to this harmful cycle of misrepresentation and manipulation of public perception. 

In order to be thorough, transparent, and direct, we will recount the situation as it was observed by people directly involved and who were also directly impacted/victimized by the core situation. 

WARNING: Non-detailed mentions of sexual assault and abuse. During the summer of 2020, Chinook Center leadership was made aware of allegations of sexual assault and abuse of Chinook community members by an individual named Patrick. This individual had been involved in various movement spaces, but upon these allegations of assault and abuse, he was kicked out of the Chinook community and clearly told he was not welcome at Chinook. SW, who is a member of the Chinook executive team, made an inappropriate comment on Facebook questioning why the victims didn’t go to the cops. He meant to ask, as he later explained, whether he and others should pursue some sort of vigilante justice against Patrick, seeing as the police hadn't been involved. While these comments were not questioning the validity of the allegations, they still had a harmful impact on survivors within the Chinook community and concerns about SW’s comments were raised to Chinook leadership. SW made additional comments in numerous places that were similarly upsetting and these comments were also brought forth to be addressed.

In response to these concerns, Chinook leadership held a community trial where SW was confronted by the concerned community members. The result of the community trial was a restorative justice process with SW, including a meeting with survivors from within the Chinook community. He has taken full accountability for his comments and understands the ways they could be misinterpreted and hurtful. The survivors of Patrick’s abuse and other survivors impacted by SW’s comments were satisfied with the outcome of SW’s restorative justice process and atonement.

A  former Chinook community member who was not a victim of Patrick’s felt unsatisfied by the community’s response and left, saying that Chinook (and its member organizations, including Colorado Springs DSA) is full of rape apologists. The rumors since then have led to the serious misunderstanding that this community member was a victim of SW,  when the reality is that SW was held accountable for writing upsetting Facebook comments, and not any form of abuse. It is not the position of Colorado Springs DSA to defend or attack the actions or reputation of any individual within this situation, but it is our position to stand by the community process of accountability, restorative justice, and the outcome of that process. 

Most of our members were neither involved in nor aware of these events, since they occurred in the early days of the Chinook Center when our chapter was still in its early stages and very small. While most of us cannot speak directly on the described events, we have been debriefed by those COS DSA members who were present throughout this process, including some who were directly impacted and harmed. Those harmed were satisfied with the resolution of this situation and we have followed their lead in standing by community-led justice and accountability work. 

As an abolitionist feminist organization, Colorado Springs DSA firmly roots our values in supporting survivors and following their lead in matters of community justice. We therefore stand by the results of the restorative justice process. Like the Chinook Center, Colorado Springs DSA is committed to building community spaces that move away from carceral systems. Being abolitionists means that we reject the logic of punishment and disposability and commit ourselves to the challenging work of repairing relationships when harm has been done. There is no established framework for transformative justice and many in the community are not familiar with the principles of abolition. When punishment and incarceration are the accepted norm for dealing with situations of harm, it can be difficult for people to understand what justice and accountability look like within abolitionist communities. 

In adherence with the principles of abolition, Colorado Springs DSA has honored the wishes of the survivors who experienced harm by accepting the outcome of the Chinook Center’s accountability process. Furthermore, we will always believe survivors who come forward with allegations of abuse or violence and are committed to investigating any new allegations. Should situations ever arise where accountability is needed, Colorado Springs DSA will be an active partner in helping to build and refine the community’s process. 

So, to be clear, we will directly address the false accusations that have arisen from this hurtful situation: 

  • SW is not the alleged perpetrator of sexual assault in this situation. 

  • The Chinook Center did not skirt accountability for the actions that SW did engage in. 

  • Justice and accountability were pursued to the satisfaction of those who were victimized by Patrick and who were hurt by the comments of SW, and they considered the situation resolved via community accountability and restorative justice. As an abolitionist organization, we stand by these non-carceral forms of community justice. 

The person who was unsatisfied by the outcome of this process was not a victim of the situation, but was a bystander who has been misrepresenting the facts and perpetuating false allegations against Chinook and SW in spite of the survivors’ objections. Instead of following the lead of the survivors and respecting their wishes for the situation to be laid to rest, the rumors have continued to be spread throughout the leftist community in Colorado Springs. The resulting rumor mill has made the abuse survivors targets of community shame and blame, which has perpetuated their revictimization. 

Although the members of the broader community have understandably reacted to the false information with anger and outrage, they have not been given the true facts. Instead, their good intentions have been manipulated and weaponized in ways that have created a rift in the leftist community. To be clear, we are not assuming the intent behind these rumors, but we must address the impacts of this situation regardless of intent. These rifts and the misinformation that fuels them make all of us on the left vulnerable to state attacks. We cannot and will not make accusations, but we will note that the weaponization of misinformation and the deepening of division have been a known tactic of state oppression. The state has repeatedly utilized covert interference and infiltration of leftist communities to sow mistrust and hostility between individuals and organizations. As an organization that has been targeted by CSPD and the FBI with surveillance and infiltration, we feel we must sound the alarm on circumstances that make all of us on the left vulnerable to manipulation and security breaches. This statement is not only a rebuttal of individual actions, but a warning against allowing the state to tear our community apart and thus dilute our organizing power. Our greatest defense is the trust we can build amongst one another, and we are taking this step towards building and repairing trust by being fully transparent about our observations and our positions on the circumstances of our community’s past. However, more repair work is needed within the community to build upon our initial step forward and to heal the harmful impacts of this misinformation and the backlash that has followed. 

Every time these rumors recirculate, it is extremely distressing to the survivors of the original situation and is revictimizing them through retraumatization. This in itself is a huge injustice. Colorado Springs DSA and other Chinook organizations have also been regarded as guilty by association, and the backlash, as seen most recently, has been retraumatizing and harmful to abuse survivors within our orgs – including those who were never involved in the initial situation. They continue to be impacted by the hostility directed towards us and the defamation of our organizations. To limit future retraumatization, sources including this statement will be compiled into a physical binder at the Chinook Center. The binder will include resources addressing this situation, the Chinook Center’s policies surrounding restorative justice and community support, and other resources to continue building upon the work our organizations have already been doing. 

We prefer to presume innocence of intent by those in the leftist community in COS who have been involved in perpetuating this false information, but which has fueled the hostility against our orgs and individual members. However, if these allegations continue and if our orgs and members continue to be targets of character assassination, we will regard these actions as willful malintent moving forward. These actions would go beyond defamation and would constitute the perpetuation of harm and injustice towards those who were victimized by the original situation, and the many survivors in our community who want peace and restoration. 

Colorado Springs DSA also wants to reaffirm our commitment to standing by survivors of violence and abuse. Our leadership committee is predominantly composed of female and nonbinary persons who hold queer, BIPOC, and survivor identities. We will always start by believing survivors who come forward with allegations of abuse or violence and are fully committed to investigating any new allegations that should ever arise. We know that we keep us safe and we are fully committed to making sure that our members and the broader community have a safe and affirming environment to organize for our collective liberation. We believe that the only way to achieve liberation and build a successful revolutionary movement is to center intersectionality and the dismantling of heteropatriarchy and white supremacy within our anti-oppressive work. We recognize that abusive power dynamics and misogyny have a long legacy within leftist communities, and we are vigilant in addressing these cultures and helping our people to do better. 

We hope that by coming forward, we can begin to bring about healing in the community and repair the damage that has been done. Our chapter and individual members have suffered enormous reputational damage through this latest resurgence of the old rumors, and we are taking this first step towards laying the foundation for repair, but we cannot do it on our own. We know that we are stronger together, and we hope that those who have received the false information in the community can approach us in dialogue and restoration. 

Colorado Springs DSA

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Linking Up Struggles

On the morning of April 17, students at Columbia University began an occupation of the campus’ West Lawn. Their demands were simple: financial disclosure and divestment from Israel. In the following weeks, encampments spread like wildfire across college campuses in New York City and beyond. Protests sprouted in over 90 colleges across the world and over 2,300 activists have been arrested, often in shocking displays of police brutality.

While these encampments seem to have sprung up overnight, the conditions for this militant activity have been brewing for decades, on and off campus. The number of student-worker unions has more than doubled in the past decade. According to a study published by the City University of New York’s School of Labor and Urban Studies, “[D]uring 2022 and 2023 alone unions won 30 new student worker collective bargaining units, representing a total of 35,655 workers.” These new student worker unions are notably militant and politicized. According to the same CUNY study, there have been 20 higher education strikes since 2022, and these student workers have not been afraid to express their political commitment to Palestinian liberation. This increase in student worker militancy since 2014 can be mapped alongside an increase of active socialists in the United States (for example, DSA membership increased from around 6,000 to around 60,000 in the past decade).

Columbia University is an instructive example of the generative connection between the labor and Palestinian solidarity movements. Columbia’s student worker union went on strike in 2022, and some of the same labor activists are now bringing their practical experiences to the encampments. Grant Miner, vice president of the Student Workers of Columbia, a graduate union affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW), noted the connection between the union and the Palestine solidarity movement in his remarks at a People’s Forum panel on Labor and Palestine. Citing the classic labor maxim of “an injury to one is an injury to all” as applicable for the labor and Palestinian liberation struggles, Miner highlighted how the union’s mechanisms for deliberation and democratic decision-making created the spaces necessary to generate substantial buy-in for the encampment’s goals.

Student worker unions have brought tactics from the labor movement to the movement for Palestinian solidarity. At Columbia, Miner noted that the union filed a grievance and held a protest at Columbia’s HR offices after two Columbia students (and former IDF soldiers) attacked a protest with a chemical weapon known as “skunk.” At the New School, labor and Palestine demands intermingle: the encampment has taken up the demand for union recognition while the student workers union has set up a daily picket outside the encampment. To support student workers facing arrests and retaliation for protesting, the New Student Workers Union (NewSWU), a newly organized undergraduate student worker union, filed an unfair labor practice complaint and voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. “As a radical student worker union, it was clear that we and the encampment had a shared struggle: that the genocide was a labor fight, and that we would not be free until Palestine was free,” said Emily Li, organizing committee member of NewSWU and New School YDSA co-chair. Similarly, in California, the University of California’s 48,000 academic workers voted by supermajority to strike in response to the state school system’s treatment of the protestors.

Beyond the student worker unions, the broader labor movement has also rallied behind the students protesting for divestment and Palestinian liberation. In New York City, rank-and-file groups organized around Palestinian solidarity have shown their full support for the encampments. These groups range from nurses to city workers to teachers to the building trades and beyond. Some rank-and-file groups have even launched divestment campaigns of their own. College faculty are also getting involved, going on strike and risking arrest to support the brave students fighting for divestment. The labor movement in the United States has had a long allegiance to the Zionist project (with some exceptions), but the strength of these surging rank-and-file movements for Palestinian solidarity suggests that the tides may be changing, both in the broader labor movement and the movement of rank-and-file militants themselves. It is notable that Labor Notes, an organization of rank-and-file activists that tends to place primary focus on organizing around economic, bread-and-butter demands, featured four packed, standing-room-only sessions on Palestine solidarity at this year’s conference.

Socialists and other radicals are getting involved, too. YDSA members have played crucial roles in organizing and sustaining encampments across the country, alongside organizers with other groups like Students for Justice in Palestine. As YDSA organizer Jo von Maack notes, being in an organization with a commitment to long-term organizing and large-scale political transformation has helped them bring to the encampments “things like democracy and wanting everyone to have a say in things” as well as “certain strategies like not thinking so much on impulse and trying to think strategically about how to get your demands heard.” This focus on democratization and long-term thinking in cross-organizational formations can be found elsewhere, too. Members of a variety of socialist and communist organizations (from DSA to the Party for Socialism and Liberation and beyond) have been organizing in the unions and rank-and-file organizations mentioned above, coming together despite organizational differences to figure out how they can effectively fight together in their communities and workplaces for divestment and Palestinian liberation.

At Emory University in Atlanta, encampment activists have been demanding the university’s divestment from Israel and Cop City, a huge police training facility that the city plans to build in the city’s Weelaunee Forest (formerly stewarded by the Muscogee Creek tribe before their forcible displacement in the 1820s and 1830s). In addition to the natural overlap in participants and tactics, activists noted the clear political connection between Israel and Cop City. Cop City was modeled off the U.S.-funded Israeli Urban Warfare Training Center (nicknamed “Mini Gaza”), and Georgia State University further facilitates this “brutal exchange of methodologies that exacerbate violence against oppressed populations to expand and maintain power and domination” through its Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange program. For over thirty years, this program “has facilitated collaboration between U.S. and Israeli police forces, fostering the dissemination of tactics used to maintain control and suppress dissent.”   

While the upsurge in student worker organizing is a novel development heightening the organization and militancy of the present movement for universities to divest from Israel, the tradition of student movements connecting to broader political struggles is far from new. The 1968 student occupation of Columbia University was organized alongside tenant activists in Harlem as a protest against the university’s role in gentrification (echoed by today’s demand of Columbia divestment activists for “No land grabs, whether in Harlem, Lenapehoking, or Palestine”) and war crimes against the people of Vietnam. And the 1980s student encampments for divestment in apartheid South Africa were accompanied by the labor movement’s activity supporting boycott and divestment. 

While the future of the encampments is unclear — some have settled with university administration, some have been brutally swept, some are still ongoing, and the summer academic break is fast approaching — this legacy is recognized explicitly by the movement for Palestinian solidarity on campus and beyond. Miner, in his People’s Forum remarks, stated that students at Columbia have adopted the attitude of “we will finish what they started” in 1968, and, to that, I add my wholehearted agreement. According to Mahmoud Ziadeh, former general secretary of the Palestinian General Federation of Independent Trade Unions, in Palestine, the labor struggle and the anti-imperialist struggle for Palestinian liberation are inseparable. This is the legacy of 1968 we carry with us today: the liberation of the world’s working class must come through the marriage of anti-imperialist and working-class movements. 

The post Linking Up Struggles appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

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The Communist Horizon of Social Housing

By Nick P.

 

The term “social housing” has gained traction on the US Left today. Prominent political currents in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have become more comfortable using the term to gesture vaguely at some more just allocation of housing than what currently exists. For example, DSA’s “Building for Power” (B4P) campaign encourages DSA chapters to “…work with tenants and/or tenant unions as well as building trades unions to retrofit social or other tenant housing,” operating under the assumption that social housing is an existing thing that can be improved upon. 

 

Notably, the Housing Justice for All coalition in New York state lists only two examples of such “social housing.” B4P then suggests that DSA chapters “…can work with building trades unions […] on building projects that create a state-owned developer corporation to build green social housing.” Setting aside whether this “builds power,” one is compelled to ask what exactly is meant by “green social housing?” As socialists and communists, do we distinguish between social housing and “green” social housing, being only in favor of the latter? We appear to be in a conceptual muddle.

 

Not only does “social housing” get trotted out by liberal organizations to justify minimally reformist changes to housing, but fundamentally, there is no proposed theory of how we ought to properly socialize housing. That is, there is a failure to grapple with capitalism as the root cause of the misallocation of housing. Communists should therefore ask themselves: how are we to understand social housing?

 

To begin, we must ask: what is housing? Housing is first a home; a necessity for the production and reproduction of dignified human life – in other words, the shelter provided by housing exists first and foremost as a use-value. But second, housing is a relation between a person and society. Housing is where every interaction between individuals and society begins and ends. Capitalism distorts this relationship first through enclosure – by depriving non-landowners from the use of land (as a home or for subsistence) – and second through the extraction of rent – by subjecting land and its use to the imperatives of the market, including improvement, surplus value, profit, etc. Capitalism thereby transforms housing into a commodity, realizing its exchange-value

 

Thus we can see most acutely under capitalism the relationship between housing and society: the inadequate distribution (or artificial scarcity) of housing means that some (those with access to housing) can participate in and contribute to capitalist society, while those that are forcibly excluded from housing (often under the auspices of “market logic”) are left to languish in misery. The capitalist allocation of housing impinges on the social value of individual humans and entire categories of people, racialized and otherwise. Thereby we can see how the unequal allocation of housing promotes the reproduction of capitalism as such. 

 

The question, therefore, is how to change this relation, not only in a prefigurative way that anticipates the end of capitalism, but in a way that actively undermines the weaponization of land by capitalism against the dispossessed masses.

 

What, then, is social housing

 

Let us be clear: social housing is a horizon, not a liberal-technocratic policy prescription. If housing under capitalism is exclusive, extractive, and monopolized, then a communist perspective on social housing should aim for the abolition of exclusivity, extraction, and monopolization in housing – and in society writ large

 

This requires the reintroduction of a political imaginary and a set of political aims and methods to achieve them that follow from a rigorously applied ideological disposition. Social housing, thus conceived, is not a concession from the state or a means to “curtail the excesses” of capitalism, but an integral part of the “real movement which abolishes the present state of things.” 

 

That is to say that social housing cannot be realized through piecemeal, reformist and opportunistic strategies of legislative and electoral meandering, but only through the mass organization of the dispossessed, proletarian class. In what follows, we elaborate on a communist perspective of social housing. 

 

 

illustration of a happy sunrise over a crowd of people with safe and sustainable housing

Social housing must first be a redistribution of land from landowners to the landless. This means that social housing cannot be passive; it cannot simply make housing “available” and “affordable” (One must ask: available to whom? Affordable by what standard?), though it must be both of these things. Social housing must be active – it must expropriate the basis of all life on earth (land) from the clutches of capitalism and deliver it straight into the hands of the dispossessed, through which it may be sustained and rejuvenated. Capitalism requires the private ownership of land, upon which the very possibility of surplus value extraction is based. If any “social housing” does not dare to challenge this fundamental relation of the capitalist mode of production, then it is not worthy of the name. Furthermore, social housing must collectivize land ownership, not simply transfer a deed from private landowner to state landowner. 

 

Second, social housing must be democratically controlled. By this we do not mean to trade in bourgeois, strictly pluralistic notions of democracy – instead we mean that social housing must authorize those who directly depend on the provision of the housing in question to decide the fate of their community. Social housing does not offer an equal seat at the table to developers, investors, or city councilors. Social housing prioritizes and makes real the collective will of tenants. 

 

Third, social housing must guarantee livelihood, not simply a life. By this we mean that social housing cannot protect tenants from extractive and punitive rents alone, but must also protect tenants from exploitative wages and deteriorated conditions of life-making. Social housing must create the conditions for tenants, now in possession of the basic necessity for the reproduction of social life, to produce a wholly new economic arrangement. 

 

In the long term, this must be the sublation of the wage labor relation – and by extension, capitalism. In the short term, this should mean the creation of communities that can be operated and sustained by the people that constitute them. By extension, social housing must be deeply ecological, maintaining the land for future generations and abolishing the “metabolic rift” that capitalism provokes between humans and nature. Furthermore, for social housing to promote livelihood, it cannot reproduce carceral relations between communities and the state. A heavily policed, state-owned apartment is not social housing. 

 

Fourth, social housing must dismantle alienation and build community. A distinguishing quality of housing under capitalism is that of alienation – tenants, living next to one another, suffering the abuses of the same landlord, are made to feel alone and isolated. They leave their homes to suffer the same abuse and alienation in the workplace. Social housing must create the conditions for tenants to realize their collectivity both at home and in society at large. In this way, social housing should actualize the political subjectivity of the dispossessed. Social housing cannot be the same alienating tenements provided by capitalism with a stamp-of-approval from the state.

 

In sum, we understand social housing to exist in relation to the material conditions of society. Social housing cannot live up to its name if it is predicated on imperial resource extraction, the wage labor relation, the heavily-policed nation-state border, and so on. 

 

That is, social housing cannot be fully realized under capitalism

 

To the claim that “reforms may be made that improve housing conditions”, we reply: “Reform is not the goal of communists.” Our goal is the abolition of capitalism and the subsequent liberation of humanity. We will consider all paths to this goal, but the paths must be pursuant to this goal. We do not argue that reform is not important in the short-term, or that the changes brought by reform are meaningless to those subjugated by landlords and wage labor. 

 

However, we maintain that reform is not sufficient to carry us down the path toward the goal of communism. We implore our comrades to consider social housing as a destination along this path, and resist the temptation of deviations when they come at the cost of our independent power.

 

What, then, will move us toward our goal? Nothing less than the mass organization of tenants, in the places where they live, fighting back against the depredations of landlords. If we want to achieve social housing, then our task should be clear: organize the tenant movement in whatever way possible. Knock doors in your neighborhood, talk to your neighbors, form tenant councils or associations, use your collective power to deprive landlords of the ability to dictate our lives. 

 

Just as the social organization of production by capitalism can be viewed as its Achilles’ heel, so too can the social organization of housing – in buildings, apartment complexes, neighborhoods, and so on – be viewed as the basis for the transformation of one of the crucial linchpins of the social reproduction of capitalism. In the same way that transforming the mode of production would dissolve the basis of capitalist political economy, so too would the transformation of the mode of reproduction dissolve the basis of the capitalist allocation of housing. In the last instance, then, social housing is nothing less than the invention, through practical, social experimentation, of the basis for communist reproduction.

 

In this vein, we find much to agree with in the definition of social housing provided by the Alliance for Housing Justice. However, we must acknowledge that neither B4P, Housing Justice for All, nor the Alliance for Housing Justice, situate tenant organization – the only lever of collective power that can feasibly overturn the capitalist allocation of housing – as the vehicle for establishing social housing. 

 

Communists should reflect on this fact, both insofar as it distinguishes us from our political contemporaries, and insofar as it orients our tactics and strategy. With the goal of dismantling capitalism and in its place erecting a more just, collective society based on the “free association of producers” (one might modify this: “…producers and tenants”), we should see tenant organization as indispensable and primary in a political organization with finite capacity such as DSA. Through this struggle, we shall create the conditions for social housing to flourish as the vehicle of communist social reproduction.

(Illustrations provided by Katy Slininger)

Group photo of a Cargill Tenants Union rally
Caption: Rally to Defend Cargill Tenants Union in Putnam, CT
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Relentless in Our Compassion         

by Lauren B.

Well, here we are.

It has been two years since Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Heath, when the Supreme Court ruled that Roe v. Wade, court-accepted guidance for forty-nine years (one-fifth of the time that our country has existed), was unconstitutional. For two years, anti-abortion legislatures have ramped up the dictation over the lives of people who can bear children—a paternalistic and violating overreach for people seeking life-and-death medical care. For two years, a country that says we have no right to universal healthcare has also decreed that we have no rights to our own uteruses either.

People have had to flee their home states to seek abortion care—almost 172 thousand in 2023 alone, according to USA Today (and that’s just who made it onto the report). The people who couldn’t afford to travel, or couldn’t take time off work, or didn’t have a ride… those numbers aren’t captured.

For two years, Democrats have been promising they’ll protect abortion—if we stay under their thumbs where we belong. The problem is, they had nearly fifty years to enshrine Roe into federal legislation before 2022, and failed to do so. I know there’s a list of excuses (there always is), but the truth is that trusting “business as usual” politicians is exactly what led us here. I say that not to deflate the hope any of us might still have in our institutions, but to remind us that this is not the time to be complacent.

The Court’s protection for Mifepristone from the other day rings empty and hollow to those who see it realistically, analogous to placing a single band-aid on a collapsing dam. Our lives and our futures are being debated by not medical experts and researchers, but politicians and lobbyists whose foundation on medical knowledge is the King James Bible, the majority of whom haven’t had to consider a potential pregnancy since I’ve been alive. Anti-abortion advocates are not relenting, and neither should we.

How do we remain relentless? Turning out to events like this, give yourselves a round of applause. We relentlessly mobilize against Crisis Pregnancy Centers—the fake clinics like the Pregnancy Resource Center of the Valleys in Mt. Morris and All Babies Cherished here in Batavia that manipulate and guilt people seeking abortion even though do not provide genuine medical care.

We also relentlessly grow our networks and continue learning. Look around, are there people here you don’t know yet? Are there resources we can share? The more we learn, the more we understand how our struggles—for abortion access, for racial equity, for disability justice—are all connected. Even today, I haven’t said the word “women” in reference to those who are affected by anti-abortion policies—because abortion restriction affects all genders. We are relentless in our compassion. Our struggles are connected, but so is our liberation. Together, we are stronger.

Together, we win.

The post Relentless in Our Compassion          first appeared on Rochester Red Star.

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Weekly Roundup: June 25, 2024

🌹Wednesday, June 26 (5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.): Small Dollar Fundraiser for Extreme Dean (In-person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Wednesday, June 26 (7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.): Tenant Organizing Working Group Meeting (In-person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Thursday, June 27 (5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.): Jackie Fielder for D9 Supervisor Mobilization (3389 26th St.)

🌹Thursday, June 27 (6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.): Palestine Solidarity and Anti-Imperialist Working Group (Zoom and in person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Friday, June 28 (12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.): Office Hours (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Friday, June 28 (6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.): ⚾ DSA SF Social: Oakland Ballers Game (In person at Raimondi Park, 1800 Wood St., Oakland)

🌹Sunday, June 30 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.): Extreme Dean Door Knock Mobilization (Meet at Alamo Square)

🌹Sunday, June 30 (1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.): No Appetite for Apartheid Work Session (Zoom and in person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Monday, July 1 (6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.): Ecosocialist Monthly Meeting (In person at 1916 McAllister & Zoom)

🌹Wednesday, July 3 (6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.): Healing Circle Art Build (In person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Wednesday, July 3 (6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.): Homelessness Working Group Outreach Training (Meet in person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Thursday, July 4 (6:00 pm. – 7:00 p.m.): Palestine Solidarity and Anti Imperialist Working Group (Zoom and inn person at 1916 McAllister)

🌹Saturday, July 6 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.): Extreme Dean Door Knock Mobilization (Location TBD)


Check out https://dsasf.org/events for more events.

Weekday Mobilization for Jackie Fielder!

Come by 3389 26th Street this Thursday (6/27) from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. to pick up a turf and then enjoy some pizza and wine at the office later!

DSA SF Social: Oakland Ballers Game at Raimondi Field

Come root for the Oakland Ballers Friday, June 28th at 6 p.m. as they take on the Northern Colorado Owlz. The Oakland Ballers, nicknamed the Oakland B’s, are an independent baseball team that will play in the Pioneer League in 2024, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball but is an MLB Partner League.

If you are still interested in joining the SF-East Bay joint trip to the Oakland B’s baseball game, it’s not too late! All you need to do is buy yourself a ticket here for a Third Base GA ticket. The GA tickets are “first come-first serve open bench seating” – the organizer will get there early to reserve a section of bench. If you can’t afford a ticket just let us know and that will be covered for you.

Extreme Dean Door-Knocking Mobilization This Pride Sunday!

Join us this Sunday, June 30th for a door-knocking mobilization in Alamo Square park at 10:00 a.m. Every year, corporate Pride on Sunday is lame. This year, it’s more than just lame—it’s BOYCOTTED by queer and Palestinian community organizers because of its corporate and Zionist sponsors. So instead of going to the parade, we’re holding a mobilization to tell renters in District 5 about all the amazing tenant protections Dean and the DSA have fought so hard to win. And, if you’re trying to catch Dean at Pride events this weekend, you can join him on Thursday (6/27) from 5:00 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the 2024 Annual Trans March in San Francisco at Dolores Park!

Chapter Movie Night: Spaces of Exception

The DSA SF Palestine Solidarity and Anti-Imperialist Working Group is hosting a film screening of Spaces of Exception on Friday, July 12th at 7:30 p.m. Spaces of Exception is an American Indian- and Palestinian-focused documentary that investigates and juxtaposes the struggles, communities, and spaces of the American Indian reservation and the Palestinian refugee camp. We’d love it if you could make it!

The screening will be hosted at the DSA SF office at 1916 McAllister St. This is a sober event and masks are required, except when eating or drinking. There is a $10 recommended donation at the door which will go directly to the filmmakers. Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. RSVP below. See you there!

DSA SF endorses The Community Transit Act ballot measure for MUNI funding. dsasf.org

Signatures for ComMUNIty Transit Act

DSA SF is endorsing the ComMUNIty Transit Act, a ballot measure to tax Uber and Lyft to fund Muni! Transportation should be a human right – not a way for corporations to profit by harming workers and the planet. Help us gather signatures to get the ComMUNIty Transit Act on the ballot.

The Chapter Coordination Committee (CCC) regularly rotates duties among chapter members. This allows us to train new members in key duties that help keep the chapter running like organizing chapter meetings, keeping records updated, office cleanup, updating the DSA SF website and newsletter, etc. Members can view current CCC rotations.

o help with the day-to-day tasks that keep the chapter running, fill out theCCC help form.

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the logo of California DSA

June CA DSA State Council Meeting Report

The quarterly CA DSA State Council meeting was held on June 8. Delegates heard an update from UAW Local 4811 president Rafael Jaime on the University of California academic worker unfair labor practice strike, voted to support the ARCH campaign, and approved a bylaws amendment. 

Keynote speaker Rafael Jaime, President of UAW 4811

Rafael Jaime presented to us the experiences of workers across the UC system, describing the violence that UC administration allowed to be perpetrated against students, teachers, and workers in campus protest encampments. He also described the systematic crackdown on free speech rights and creation of unsafe working conditions for workers simply practicing their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly in their protest of the genocide in Gaza. These actions by the UC administration caused UAW 4811 to file unfair labor practice charges against the UC and their members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike. 

The UC administration attempted to halt the strike with appeals to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), which denied the requests. The administration then found a friendly judge in Orange County to issue an injunction pausing the strike. 

Jaime said it is important for us to keep this fight moving in the name of workers rights, free speech rights, and the movement for Palestinian liberation. Though the UC bent the legal system to its will, workers are committed to taking this fight forward for the long haul. The Stand Up strikes gave student workers flexibility to respond to changing conditions on each campus as the strikes escalated. Members of our State Council noted that this labor action was almost unprecedented in American labor history. 

Jaime told us that the next step is for 4811 members at the university department level to decide the best strategy moving forward. He concluded by reminding us that as this struggle continues, it will be key to have DSA’s full support for UAW. 

CoChair’s Report

One of our outgoing CoChairs, Alex B, welcomed the new State Council  to our meeting and discussed some of the recent changes that took place in our former State Committee’s leadership for the last few months of their term. She also thanked our former State Committee members for all their work over the last year in getting CA DSA this far. 

Our second CoChair, Tal L, finished the report by going over some of what we’ve learned in the last year, including the need for our State Committee to develop more effective ways to connect our delegates, members, and chapters across California. 

Treasury Report

Tal L, who also served  as our outgoing treasurer, discussed the work that had been done over the past year in regards to our statewide organization’s finances. Currently, due to National DSA rules, CA DSA is prevented from having its own bank account but does have its own PAC account. The PAC account is primarily for election campaign fundraising and is governed by state election laws. Currently CA DSA has no revenue stream, which has been one of our biggest hurdles in creating a sustainable organization. 

Our State Committee is also tasked with putting forward a recommendation to our National Political Committee on how DSA National should disburse donations to California chapters through 2026, since state election rules limit the amount of in-kind donations our chapters can receive without having to disclose the names of all of our members to election officials. This 4 year limit is $100,000 and some of that money has already been spent. Any spending from non-separately incorporated bodies, grants from National Electoral Commission, any purchase of software in support of local campaigns count toward this amount. If we JUST used the canvassing tool VAN - we’d only have the option to support 10 local campaigns in the next 2 cycles. 

Comms Report

Fred G talked to us about our website which was published a year ago along with the initial issue of our bimonthly newsletter, California Red. He described the successes of those efforts in keeping ten thousand CA DSA members across the state informed about the work of local chapters as well as the state body. He noted that we are an all volunteer organization, and we welcome articles and suggestions from the membership for stories. 

Discussion on Comms:

A delegate asked, how does California Red interact with the national publications—for instance, do we send anything upstream? How could our publications operate inside the national publication body(ies)? Fred answered that at the moment we don’t have a direct connection; the national DSA staffer who had been attending our communications meetings left the organization and has yet to be replaced. This is mostly a capacity issue for us. We agree that it would be a great thing to be coordinating with National. 


Chapter Reports

San Luis Obispo:

Brenda M, Cochair of SLO DSA said her chapter has been very busy working on Palestinian support and in various alliances. A lot of the area is “Trump country.” They are working on ‘food not bombs’ programs, Involved with SLO tenants unions and are out canvassing. They are getting ready to ramp up for propositions on California ballots for renters. They have a dynamic YDSA, and are tabling at many Pride events and making sure Pride flags are flown.

Santa Barbara:

Andrew, Cochair, told us about the Santa Barabara tenants union, which won a rent-eviction fight. The chapter is in the process of incorporation. A member of the Santa Barbara Tenants Union who’s involved with SB DSA is running for city council to put a renter-supportive majority on the city council. There’s also been support for walkouts protesting the genocide in Gaza.

Business Items:

Consent Agenda: Recommended California DSA Legislative Positions

Opposition to CA Assembly Bill 2742

This bill would prohibit a person driving a vehicle upon a highway or a pedestrian from willfully obstructing a highway, including in the course of a protest, in any manner that interferes with the ability of an authorized emergency vehicle to pass and would make a violation of this provision punishable by specified fines. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Our legislative framework means that we would be submitting our position to the state legislative portal and publicizing our position. The goal of adopting positions isn’t just to get our names down but to educate the public that neither parties in CA are consistent in standing for working class positions. Any other possible actions beyond these are to be determined by the State Committee.

Vote: 34 yes, 0 nos, 1 abstain

Bylaws Amendment submitted by State Committee

CA DSA’s State Committee proposed a Bylaws Amendment that would reduce the size of our Steering Committee from 9 to 7 positions and would also assign specific roles to previously “at large” members of that committee.

Vote: 35 yes, 0 no, 3 abstain

Affordable, Rent-controlled Housing Campaign Program

Link to full campaign program here

Note: Program was amended before our vote to account for the recent removal of a ballot measure from the November 2024 general election

Vote: 35 yes, 1 no, 1 abstain

Non-deliberative discussion:

Our meeting concluded with a discussion of our Affordable Rent-Controlled Housing (ARCH) campaign and a number of final points delegates wished to make about the work ahead. Delegates were excited about the potential for this campaign to build DSA and bring much needed reforms to housing law in California. Members also discussed the looming “Taxpayer Deception Act” which would gut local governments’ ability to fund programs and create taxes. [NOTE: Since the State Council meeting, the state supreme court found the ballot measure unconstitutional and threw it off the November ballot—Editor.]

Delegates also considered how the ARCH campaign interfaces with other chapter and CA DSA work, including other ballot measure campaigns, but also how we make sure local chapters have the ability to be connected to this project. 

Slides here from our campaign outline and discussion

Respectfully submitted, Paul Zappia, CA DSA Secretary

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Green New Deal Commission on Building Public Power in Milwaukee

The Green New Campaign Commission interviewed a member of Milwaukee DSA about building a mass base through their Building For Power campaign focused on public utilities.

Green New Deal Campaign Commission: What’s Milwaukee’s Building For Power campaign?

Andy B: Milwaukee’s GND campaign is called Power to the People. Our local private energy company, called We Energies, does not treat our community well at all—they made $1.3 billion in profits last year, and yet they are attempting to do the third rate hike in three years. Other publicly owned utilities in Wisconsin, which comprise about 11% of our power grid, have electric bills that are on average 30 to 40% lower.

We’re trying to replace We Energies with a publicly-owned, municipal power company. Our strategy to do this is through a particular Wisconsin law that gives the city a legal avenue to use eminent domain to purchase all of the private energy utilities in the city and convert them into public ones. 

It requires the support of our Common Council in the city and will need to pass a referendum. A huge part of this campaign is building overwhelming community support for an initiative like this. There aren’t really any magic shortcuts; it takes a critical mass of public support demanding change from our city leaders for this sort of initiative to take place.

Why is public-owned power so important to the green transition?

Private companies like We Energies are driven by maximizing profit, and that’s not compatible with the rate of change we need to adopt green energy. Their idea of switching to more green energy is investing in a brand new billion-dollar natural gas power plant. They claim they want to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 80% by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels) and halt the use of coal as an energy source by the end of 2032, but there’s no accountability to actually ensure that happens. It’s not the bold action we need to see in the climate moment we’re in right now. A community-controlled, publicly owned power company gives the people of Milwaukee an actual say in how to transition to an ecologically sound power utility using solar and wind power.

Is there a particular reason why now is a good time for this public power campaign?

There is a funny bit of history in Milwaukee. This exact same legal avenue was pursued in the 1930s. They got further than we are right now; they actually went to a referendum and, unfortunately, that referendum failed. So here we are, almost 100 years later, trying it again, and better late than never. I wish it would have happened a lot sooner, but we’re gonna win this time.

Tell us about Milwaukee: what are the conditions like there and how do they affect this project?

Milwaukee, unfortunately, is a very geographically segregated city. The energy rate hikes overwhelmingly affect Black populations in this city. About 16% of the Milwaukee population is Black, but around 65% of residents who have a high energy burden are Black. It’s an issue that really affects marginalized communities, and that’s where we are especially succeeding in building our base for this campaign. 

It does help that Milwaukee is, by and large, a very liberal city. So a lot of folks are already conditioned to understand the need to transition toward green energy and are on board with this specific plan that we can put in front of them. It’s a popular campaign, probably the most popular campaign I’ve worked on. Whenever we have canvassers go out pretty much anywhere in the city, folks are very receptive. I think it’s going to be a success.

It seems like it has a lot of popular support. What are some of the challenges that are facing this campaign?

The biggest, most immediate hurdle is that in order to actually get a referendum on our ballot to kick off this legal process, we need the support of the Milwaukee Common Council. We have 15 Common Council members. One of them is vocally in support of this campaign, and we’ve had a couple of the more kind of liberal progressive members who have basically implied that they’d be willing to support the campaign as soon as it becomes popular, as soon as it would start to benefit them politically. But we have quite a ways before we have a majority support on the Common Council.

That’s the most immediate hurdle, and even then, it is a complicated process. The referendum will need to pass, and we’ll need to make sure the community is educated against all the propaganda that We Energies is inevitably going to be pumping out. Maine, a few months back, had a state referendum to convert their entire power grid to a public power grid. And it failed, because the private energy corporations spent a ton of money to campaign against it. That is a tough hurdle to overcome.

This is a very, very long-term project. It’s popular, it’s fun, it’s exciting. The pitfall is it’s going to take a long time and a lot of effort.

How do you keep folks engaged when the fruition of the project is such a long-term thing?

One of my favorite ways we do that is by periodically hosting rallies and public-facing events. A month ago, we held an event at our city hall where we gathered all of the petitions that we’ve been collecting from folks around the communities expressing their support for the campaign. We had over 7,000 of them in this very large stack, and about 100 of us gathered outside City Hall and a very public rally, and we marched into City Hall and delivered them directly to the mayor and the Common Council. That’s the second time we’ve done that; the first time was when we only had 2,000 signatures. Events like that are really good for energy, and they keep folks aware of where the campaign is and engaged.

If someone was interested in running a similar public power campaign in a different chapter, what advice would you give them?

The most important thing is building that community support. There’s no magic sequence of making deals with elected officials or courting fundamentally “capital L liberal” folks into making this sort of radical change happen. You need the political will of an entire community to collectively demand it—that’s the most important aspect.

Additionally, find ways to not only fight for this campaign, but organize around it. An important aspect is that it does bring members into DSA, into our other projects. It does bring money and capacity into our chapter that we can use for this and other campaigns. It’s very important that this isn’t just a single campaign in a vacuum; it is part of something much larger.

Is there anything surprising that you’ve learned about public power through this process?

I didn’t realize how ubiquitous it was. Los Angeles, Memphis, Seattle; even here in Wisconsin, 11% of all power is public. I enjoy sharing that info with folks. Because, initially, it seems like such a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream that we can have a municipal power company, but it’s been tried and tested over and over again. It’s everywhere. 

How can folks in Milwaukee get involved with your campaign?

The most important thing they can do, in my opinion, is join our canvases. We canvass all around Milwaukee every single Sunday. We also have phone banks every Thursday evening, where we call the folks who have signed our petitions and folks in DSA and invite them to join us in our efforts. Because that’s what it’s going to take. It’s going to take repetitive informing of the community, rallying of the community, organizing the community to make this project happen. So anybody interested in being a part of that process, I would love to see that.

The post Green New Deal Commission on Building Public Power in Milwaukee appeared first on Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

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MAJORITY OF SOMERVILLE CITY COUNCIL STANDS WITH MAYOR/MANAGEMENT AGAINST UNION

SOMERVILLE, MA — The events of the week of June 16 sadly demonstrated how Mayor Katjana Ballantyne’s indecision and poor communication continues to harm and de-prioritize public employees, the staff critical to keeping our city and its services running.

The Somerville Municipal Employees Association is Somerville’s main city union, protecting workers in our libraries, schools, and other public services. They have been without a contract for more than 700 days and have not seen an across-the-board raise since 2021. On Tuesday, June 18, SMEA publicly demanded that the City Council freeze upper management compensation at fiscal year 2024 levels until Mayor Ballantyne agrees to a fair contract. Ed Halloran, President of SMEA, asked for this freeze so that management would “share our burden, share our pain.”

Boston DSA joined Somerville Stands Together, Community Action Agency of Somerville, Somerville Educators Union, and Carbon Free Somerville to support SMEA’s ask for the Councilors to freeze upper management compensation. There was a groundswell of community support for this limited, temporary cut, as demonstrated by a  large rally outside city hall prior to the meeting.

Nonetheless, the Council narrowly rejected the cut, which was sponsored by DSA’s J.T. Scott (Ward 2). Five Councilors voted for the cut, in accordance with SMEA’s demand: JT Scott (Ward 2), Willie Burnley, Jr. (At-Large), Kristen Strezo (At-Large), Jesse Clingan (Ward 4), and Naima Sait (Ward 5). The six Councilors who voted against the cut were Matt McLaughlin (Ward 1), Ben Ewen-Campen (Ward 3, Council president), Lance Davis (Ward 6), Judy Pineda Neufeld (Ward 7), Jake Wilson (At-Large), and Will Mbah (At-Large).

McLaughlin then proposed completely eliminating funding for the city’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) position. The majority of the Council voted to pass that cut. Ewen-Campen and Wilson voted against it.

Two days later (Thursday, June 20) Mayor Ballantyne and CAO Lammis Vargis came to the Council to defend the CAO role. The Council then debated the elimination of the CAO role again at length, but barely mentioned the SMEA contract negotiations. 

Ultimately, seven Councilors reversed their positions and voted to keep funding for the CAO role: McLaughlin, Clingan, Sait, Davis, Neufeld, Mbah, and Strezo. DSA’s J.T. Scott and Willie Burnley, Jr., who both opposed the creation of the CAO role in 2022, were the only two Councilors to remain consistent from Tuesday to Thursday nights in their votes to eliminate funding for the role.

Boston DSA stands in solidarity with SMEA in its contract fight and shares the frustration that both the majority of the Council and the Mayor seem to have lost sight of what is at stake: the public employees who keep Somerville running cannot even afford to live in the city.

The Mayor showed a clear sense of urgency on Thursday when she fought for the CAO role. That sense of urgency is unfortunately lacking in many other areas, with SMEA’s 700+ days without a contract being just one glaring example.
The fight for a fair SMEA contract continues. Join community supporters for a Supporters of SMEA meeting, online, Tuesday, June 25th, from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Together we will plan next steps to increase public awareness and pressure the mayor. When we fight, we win!