Brooklyn Manor tenants protest at zoning hearing, with many supporters

On the 23ed of February, an unusually large crowd of supporters backed up Brooklyn Manor tenants at and before a zoning hearing. The hearing concerns a proposed redevelopment that would displace larger families and many low income tenants. On the grounds that an injury to one is an injury to all, many groups stood with the tenants. Supporting organizations ran the gamut from One DC to the IWW and many others.

After the rally outside, tenants and their supporters packed into the zoning hearing to let the city government know they were not leaving without a fight. One chant in the earlier rally was “Hell no-we won’t go!”

One DC said on their facebook page: “At this hearing, the tenants and their legal team will be arguing for the inclusion of robust affordable housing, including the retention of large bedrooms, so that no resident is displaced from their existing community.” As the proposal now stands, no larger apartments suitable for Brooklyn Manor’s larger families would be included in the redevelopment, and the number of low income units would be reduced. In short, the landlord is seeking to yuppify the building. Linda Leeks told the landlord to “go back to Germany.” Once again a colonizing, displacing predator has been told in no uncertain terms to get the hell off of Turtle Island.

Video Highlights from the rally outside/before the zoning hearing

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Emergency Protest at the White House against Trump’s revocation of trans student protections

On the 22nd of February, Donald Trump issued the executive order equivalent of those bigoted GOP “bathroom bills” targetting transgender students. He revoked the federal guidelines permitting trans students in public schools to use the restroom corrosponding to their gender identities. As he did so, protesters gathered outside the White House to denounce Trump’s potty decree.

One of the keynote speakers outside the White House was no less than Gavin Grimm, the transgender male student at Gloucester High School who had to take his VA school district to court for the right to use the boy’s restrooms at school. At first the principal sided with him, but soon complaints poured into the school mostly on grounds of religious bigotry. A lower court ordered the school district to let him use the boy’s rooms anyway but the school district appealed to the US Supreme Court, where this order was stayed.

At the moment, the Title IX protections for transgender students still exist, but the Federal guidelines on how school districts are supposed to apply Title IX to trans students have been revoked. This implies the Federal government is no longer interested in enforcing the Title IX protections, effectively returning power over where and whether transgender students can use the restroom in school to the states. As for directly altering Title IX itself, Trump still lacks the power to change statutory law by decree.

FAUX News quoted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as saying “This is an issue best solved at the state and local level.” In other words, this is a call for “state’s rights,” the old rallying cry used by the KKK and similar groups to oppose racial integration in school. Now transgender students are being bullied by what amounts to the same people. The Trump administration is tied explicitly by people like strategy chief Steve Bannon to white nationalists, to the racist, neo-Nazi, frog-kissing “alt-right.” As for Betsy Devos, her only qualification for office was contributing huge amounts of money to GOP candidates for office.

The end of the ability to use the toilet without being bullied by opposite-gender students is likely to force many transgender students to abandon school entirely in GOP-dominated areas. The GOP seems to think it will instead force trans students to abandon their gender identity but things simply do NOT work that way.

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Water protectors rally at Wells Fargo, demand DC divest from DAPL banks

Update 2-23-2017:German bank BayernLB divests from DAPL

On the 22nd of February, DC area water protectors gathered at Wells Fargo next to the White House as heavily-armored cops in North Dakota attempted to evict the Standing Rock water defender’s camps. The police assault backed off after encountering a line of military veterans defending the camp. Here in DC and in cities all over Turtle Island, water protectors are seeking to starve out the pipeline with demands for divestment from 17 banks unless the banks divest from the Dakota Access pipeline.

The continent-wide divestment campaign is two-pronged. On the one hand water protectors are seeking to encourage states, localities, cities, and counties to divest from banks funding the Dakota Access pipelines. this is starting to bear fruit, with Seattle having pulled $ 3 billion out of Wells Fargo and NYC mayor DeBlasio threatening to do the same. In addition anyone with accounts, credit cards, etc with Wells Fargo, TD Bank or the other banks funding the pipeline is encouraged to move checking accounts, preferentially pay off these bank’s credit cards first (costing the banks interest) and shift funds and accounts to credit unions or non-pipeline funding banks as they are able to do so. No matter what Trump does, an HLS style campaign of divestment can starve out the Dakota Access Pipeline and prevent it from ever going into service.

A newly formed Indigenous group called Rising Hearts Coaltion was backed by Black Lives Matter DC, SURJ-DC, and DC at the DC Wells Fargo protest. The opening blessing and song were by Sebi Tayac of the Piscataway Nation, owner of the land occupied by DC and Maryland. Maryland officially began as a colony as did Virgina, DC was founded on land ceded by those two colonizer settlements.

There were nine reported arrests at the Feb 22 assault on Oceti Sakowen, the camp closest to the pipeline route. One of the arrestees was livestreamer (journalist) Eric Poemz, whom bystanders reported had his hip broken by police. Some photos from Standing Rock show police armored up like stormtroopers in the Star Wars movies, yet at the end of the day the camp was still in the posession of the remaining water protectors. The attackers never got to Camp Sacred Stone at all by Twitter reports.

Highlights of the DAPL Divestment rally at Wells Fargo

The round dance in front of Wells Fargo. Demand is either Wells Fargo divests from the DAPL, or the DC government divests from Wells Fargo

Banners behind speakers at Wells Fargo, a bank notorious both for the Dakota Access Pipeline and for funding private prisons

The stormtroopers advance on Oceti Sakowen before being turned back by a line of US military veterans: phto by Angie

Face to face with what might be called a “Colonial Stormtrooper”-photo by Robb

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Not My President’s Day march takes the streets

The 20th of February marked one month since Donald Trump’s chaotic inauguration, and the protests have not stopped. A large “Not My President’s Day” march took over the streets to march from Dupont Circle to the White House. An attempt to counterprotest on the part of “Bikers for Trump” fizzled, one marcher reported only two of the counterprotesters showed up.

Video highlights of DC’s Not My President’s Day march

The march leaving Dupont Circle.

On Mass Ave

Snowflakes are powerful, MAGAts are not: 38 years ago , it was snowflakes that shut down DC for an entire week: the famous President’s Day Blizzard.

Trump just can’t pass up a chance to grab some kitty

On H st by the White House


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LGBTQ makeout/protest held in front of Trump Hotel

On the 19th of February, GLBTQ activists held a “make-out” protest in front of Trump Hotel. This was a spin-off from similar events held in front of Trump Tower in New York City. Organizers have stated “President Trump insists he stands for the LGBTQ+ community, the LGBTQ+ community stands for the fair and just treatment of all underprivileged groups.” This is a clear rejection of the “Lavendar Shield” strategy by which some right-wing forces try to pit the GLBTQ and Muslim communities against each other.

Some far-right forces were disappointed at the size of this protest, but this appears to have been the first time out for a brand new crew in DC, using the format from a similar action in NYC. If the experience of Black Lives Matter organizers in DC who started small in Summer 2014 is any guide, nobody should bet on protests by new organizers against the kind of racist hate Trump stands for staying small for long. Now just like in summer 2014 in DC, GLBTQ protests against Trump and Pence are bringing out new people, never seen before in a protest. This is how movements grow, and if the growth experienced by Black Lives Matter here in 2014 gets repeated in this community, that could mean Trump Hotel surrounded by tens of thousands of dancing GLBTQ protesters for all of Pride Week in June.

Video clip from the makeout/protest at Trump Hotel

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Protest at US attys office demands charges against J20 arrestees be dropped.

On the 20th of January, as Donald Trump was inaugurated, police unlawfully trapped and arrested over 230 protesters, journalists, and bystanders. Police made no attempt to distinguish who did what simply charging all arrestees with felony riot, which carries a theoretical maximum ofg ten years in prison. On the 18th of February, protesters gathered at the US Attorney’s office to demand that these charges be dropped.

Many of the unprecedented charges and police actions during the #DisruptJ20 events raise serious questions about rule of law. In 2005, the DC Council passed legislation explicitly forbidding mass arrests of protests. Police defied their own law and carried out the J20 kettle and mass arrest anyway. This sort of behavior as well as the use of police weapons never before fired at protesters suggests that when those in power are frightened by popular opposition, rule of law goes out the window and police are simply ordered to do whatever is expedient. Organizers of the Feb 18 Drop the Charges protest stated “We believe these charges are politically motivated; intended to intimidate protesters and silence dissent against the Trump administration.” Protesters stated that these extreme charges are intended as a direct attack on free speech, and the fact that two independent journalists and a freelance reporter are still facing felony charges lends much credance to this suspicion.

It is worth remembering that DC does not have its own prosecutors, relying instead on US Attorneys, who being Federal now answer to Trump.

There is a related petition demanding that these felony riot charges against three journalists still facing charges from the J20 mass arrest be dropped. Charges were dropped several days after the mass arrest against four paid, credentialed journalists after police spokemen futily tried to defend the logic behind these charges. The other three journalists are still facing major felony charges along with the protesters and the bystanders netted in the kettle.

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Jewish group protests Trump, Bibi, and growing fascist menace

On the 15th of February, the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow DC protested at Trump Hotel against both the occupation of Palestine and the growing fascist and racist menace of Donald Trump. At almost the same time American Muslims for Palestine held a similar protest at the White House. Shortly after dark IfNotNow DC marched to the White House to join the other protest on essentially the same issues. At one point they held and blocked 15th st by the Penn Ave entrance to the White House area.

One of the issue raised at the White House protest by American Muslims for Palestine was the proposal by Trump to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This inflammatory proposal has long been blocked by fears that it would lead to another general Middle East war, and in fact some groups have warned that it would be considered a declaration of war. Trump does not seem to listen to such warnings.

There was yet another march and some street blockades earlier in the day. All of these protests were triggered by the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Nehtanyahu to the White House and his meeting with Donald Trump. Bibi and Trump reportedly discussed the anti-African refugee wall on Israel’s southern border as a prototype for Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border.

IfNotNow DC condemned Donald Trump for his connections to the “alt-right” neo-Nazis, who are of course often openly anti-Semitic. Speakers reminded everyone that the kind of hate Trump is peddliing against Muslims and Latinos usually comes for the Jews sooner or later. One speaker warned that some of the “evangelican Christian Zionist” groups who loudly support Israel do so because they want to get all Jews to emigrate to Israel, essentially to self-deport from the US.

Video highlights of the rally and street theater at Trump Hotel plus the departure of the march

Tearing apart a symbolic wall against both the Apartheid Wall in Israel and Trump’s planned wall

Marchers turn their backs on Trump Hotel and head to the White House

The march on Penn Ave

The intersection of 15th and Penn shut down by the march (photo by Libi)

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