On the 30th of June, Code Pink showed up in front of the White House in opposition to continuing threats of war against Iran. This time around, they offered swing dance lessons to anyone who was interested. Several passersby and tourists took them up on the dance lessons.
Video of Code Pink’s dance lessons (39 sec)
The residents of Museum Square, one of the last Section 8 rentals in Chinatown are facing mass eviction followed by demolition and condo construction. Bush Companies (of Williamsburg, Va.), the landlord, offers only an option to buy the building for nearly ten times what the DC government assessed it as being worth for property taxes. On the 23ed of June, the tenants staged a mass protest against the planned evictions. They were backed by the National Alliance of HUD Tenants.
Rabbi Scott Perlo from a nearby synagogue spoke at the rally, saying “You can’t build community by bulldozing.” Other speakers found it interesting that the landlord trying to get rid of 300 Chinese and African-American families in Museum Square is named Bush Companies. A representative from DC Councilmember Bond’s office spoke at the rally, saying the councilmember is committed to blocking the evction/condo project. Emergency legislation to stop this project has already passed, permanent legislation is still being debated. Yet another speaker noted that a court hearing won a two year reprieve from teh bulldozers. Whatever happens elsewhere with big issues like the infamous TPP, what is happening at Museum Square is proof that land can be defended, protest backed by other forms of activism works, and the insatiable demands of the richest 1% if the population can be repelled.
Video highlights of the rally (2 min)
On the 21st of June, DC Ferguson marched in solidarity with African-Americans in Charleston, S Carolina. On June 17, a white supremacist invaded the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and opened fire. Nine people were killed and one more person wounded. Signs in the DC march read “Stop the war on Black America.”
DC Ferguson has also spent much energy in the last year opposing jump-outs, which have been called “Stop and Frisk on wheels.” Police deny they use the tactic, but everyone on gentrification threatened blocks knows exactly what a jump-out is. Now police chief Lanier says she will “restructure” police to eliminate vice squads, who MPD has grudgingly admitted use tactics similar to what seemingly everyone knows as a jump-out. A jump-out is when a swarm of armored but plainclothes cops swarm from an unmarked car and attempt to intimidate every young Black male into submitting to an illegal search. These searches are presumably an effort to find drug dealers by unlawful group searches of entire blocks of people. The “restructuring” promise is an implied promise to eliminate jump-outs by focussing on top-level drug importers instead, but activists fear vice squads will return under another name and jump-outs continue. The obvious precedent here is the continuation of the School of the Americas as WHINSEC, the Western Hemisphere Institue for Security Cooperation-new name, same game.
Video of the march-1 min 27 sec
On June 21, the DC Food Justice Bike Tour visited a number of locations with economic and food justice significance. The first was a Ben and Jerry’s outlet in Georgetown, where the Milk with Dignity campaign is seeking higher wages for dairy workers in Vermont. This campaign is following in the footsteps of the sucessful Coalition of Immokalee Workers campaign for higher wages in tomato fields. Ben and Jerry’s is a major customer of the dairy factory farms in Vermont, just as Burger King is a major customer of tomato producers.
Working hours in Vermont’s dairy factory farms can be as long as 14 hours a day, statewide 40% get paid less than minimum wage and 20% have their first week’s wages withheld, which is flat-out wage theft. Apparently some of these employers refuse to pay wages owned in arrears for hours already worked when workers decide they can no longer tolerate the conditions and quit. Ben and Jerry’s “Caring Dairy” program is based on self-assessement over the Web, so far they have balked at outside audits.
The DC Food Justice Bike Tour crossed into Georgetown by bike, dismounted, and entered the Ben and Jerry’s outlet as a whole group. This was originally planned as a rather strong protest, but Ben and Jerry’s corporate office has already agreed to negotiate. Thus, this visit was reduced to a letter delivery by the entire group as a reminder to follow through on the promise Ben and Jerry’s has made.
There were several other stops, at friendly rather than target locations before the whole tour rode to the Three Part Harmony Farm in NE DC for a free dinner.
Video of activists entering Ben and Jerry’s
Entering the Ben and Jerry’s in Georgetown with a letter concerning worker conditions in Vermont’s dairy factory farms
Outside the Georgetown Ben and Jerry’s
Activists on bikes can travel much faster than any march from one location to another
On the 16th of June, DC Ferguson returned to the streets and shut down Chinatown, demanding not only that Police Chief Lanier keep the de facto promise she just made to end jump-outs, but also an end to gentrifcation and homelessness. The 16th of June was the 39th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising that marked the start of the movement that ultimately ended Apartheid in South Africa.
A few days earlier, DC Police Chief Lanier said that MPD would be switching focus from “low-level drug dealers” to major suppliers. According to the Washington Post report, the city’s vice squads are to be finally eliminated. Not once was the word “jump-out” used in any mainstream media story, but it is clear this is in response to growing pressure to end this tactic. When DC Ferguson began organizing against jump-outs, MPD first claimed to have discontinued the tactic during the 1990’s, then claimed only vice squads did anything like this. Now they say they will abolish the vice squads, but will the jump-outs really end or some other or renamed part of MPD continue business as usual?
Jump-outs are essentially when undercover cops swarm onto a block and attempt to intimidate every young Black male into submitting to an illegal search. Presumably MPD hopes to catch street corner drug dealers by searching everyone on the corner in this way. Jump-outs are seen only in gentrification front-line areas plus in Wards 7 and 8, which are African-American majority neighborhoods. Police deny they do this, yet everyone on some blocks I know well knows exactly what a jump-out is.
Since Lanier’s statement, FAUX News has been running nonstop crime stories, along with interviews with masked cops complaining about the shift of focus. Faux is yakking every day about overdoses of a bad batch of “synthetic pot”-just after real pot has been legalized. Most likely FAUX has another agenda behind supporting jump-outs, a pro-gentrification one. This is in itself evidence that as protesters charge, jump-outs are about social control and racism, not about drugs at all.
1 min 30 sec video of DC Ferguson march in Chinatown
On the 15th of June, the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents met at the museum’s “castle.” Outside were climate activists demanding the removal of David H Koch from the boards of both of the Smithsonian’s Museums of Natural History (DC and NYC). In addition, they demanded the Smithsonian reject financial contributions from the Koch Brothers, who have spent billions on climate change denial. The activists delivered four boxes filled with petitions asking the Smithsonian to cut ties with th
e Koch’s to the board meeting, they were accepted by Smithsonian staff.
Koch money and bribes have been so toxic to ethics in places like Congress that the work “Kochaine” is acutally defined by “Urban Dictionary” as “highly addictive substance derived from the rare and toxic Koch parasite.” Perhaps the Koch Brothers, whose money has addicted so many politicans should really be called the Krak Brothers?
In the case of the Smithsonian, the musuem claims to accept that climate change is man-made, but a Koch-funded exhibit in the Musuem of Natural History in DC claims that humans will simply evolve to live with climate change. This ignores the fact that no organism can evolve to live in a radically changed environment in one or two generations. It also implies, presumably on purpose, that since humans will supposedly evolve changes to adapt to climate change that nothing need be done about it.
It is an established pattern in politics, those who cannot defend something sometimes simply choose to deny that it exists, has happened, or is happening. The racist far right is known for this, not it appears that the fossul fuel lobby is following in their footprints. Behind them we may all be walking in dinosaur footprints, all the way to possible extinction! Even if we survive, thousands of other species will not.
Video-protest demanding the Smithsonian dump the Koch Brothers