Never Newsham Day of Action disrupts DC Council, 14th st against confirming police chief

On the 24th of March, the DC Council held a public hearing on whether or not to confirm acting police chief Newsham. A “Mock Bloc” blocked 14th st outside after chalking warnings about Newsham’s domestic abuse history and related gender issues in front of the Wilson Building. Some protesters inside the hearing hog tied each other as a reminder of Newsham’s role in the 2002 Pershing Park mass arrests, and were eventually dragged out by cops saying they were being taken to trash cans.

The “Mock Bloc” was dressed mostly in black to invoke the anticapitalist protesters mass arrested on Newsham’s watch on Jan 20, 2017. By focussing on a street blockade they also invoked the other major portion of DisruptJ20, the checkpoint blockades. The 14th st blockade was short-lived, as it was almost immediately attacked by a combination of aggressive motorists pushing through and equally aggressive bystanders on foot. As some of them grabbed at the chains in the barricade, another could be heard excitedly describing the scene into his cell phone, probably to the cops. With the bystanders getting rough, the Mock Bloc chose to withdraw rather than risk the situation escalating. Any kind of violence outside could have created problems for protesters inside the Council, and the cops were nasty enough there as things stood. Under orders not to arrest those they dragged from the hearing, they told protesters they were being dragged to trash cans.

Under Newsham’s style of policing, had the cops shown up, they might have decided to kettle the area and arrest both the protesters and the “bystanders” who had attacked them, leaving it to the courts to figure out who was who later. Police however were caught by surprise and were a no-show for the duration of the barricade, even though protesters less than an hour earlier had been in front of the Wilson Building itself.

Video of the “Mock Bloc” chalking at the Wilson Building, then barricading 14th st

Video of half-hog tied protesters dragged from DC Council and lame excuses from both cops and councilmember Phil Mendelson. video includes the “trash can” remark by police

Police dragged activists out of the hearing, saying they were going “to the trash can”-photo by BlackLivesMatterDC

“Mock Bloc” barricades 14th st

Earlier-chalking at the Wilson Building against Newsham

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Anti-Trumpcare/anti-ICE marchers take to streets as Trumpcare vote delayed

Update 3-23 4:30PM: House of Representatives puts off Trumpcare vote due to not enough votes to pass bill. This is the usual way of preventing a bad bill from being voted down outright, just as we saw with last year’s failed TPP ratification attempts.

On the 23ed of March, protesters marched on Penn Ave as Congress prepared to vote on “Trumpcare” also known as the AHCA. After a die-in at Trump Hotel protesters marched on the White House. Some then took over the sidewalk in front of the White House in what may be the first civil disobedience at the White House in Trump’s term.

The marchers were opposing not only Trump’s American Health Care Act (AHCA or “Trumpcare) but also the vicious, racist immigration raids Trump has unleashed. One report said the number of protesters outside Trump Hotel exceeded 1,000. At the White House, 24 activists carried out civil disobedence representing 24 million people expected to lose health insurance under Trump’s proposal. For activists to resort to deliberate civil disobedience after the filing of felony charges for Inauguration protests in DC and anti-Fascist protests elsewhere in the US is an act of extreme courage. This is the age of Trump, Newsham, and the growth of overt Fascism in the US and is an exceptionally dangerous time.

Trumpcare (the AHCA) does a lot more than remove the onerous, controversial, and unenforcable individual mandate from Obamacare. It also frees large employers to drop health coverage on their employees, removes most of the Obamacare subsidies that made insurance affordable for many lower income people, and removes most Federal assistance to states expanding Medicaid eligability. Trumpcare even contains a provision that would permit states to impose workfare (make-work) requirements on Medicaid recipients, a measure GOP states would jump on to discourage people from applying for Medicaid at all. Many of those states would lose money as low income people with minimal jobs bailed on Medicaid and relied on uncompensated emergency room care instead. Anyone who does not make enough money to owe Federal income tax but has health insurance other than Medicare will probably lose it under Trumpcare, as the proposed income tax credits will be of little use to those not required to file tax returns.

For all that, the simple fact that Trumpcare does not fully restore a totally unregulated, capitalist health insurance market is enough that the so-called “Freedom Caucus” of tea-party Republicans has dubbed it “Obamacare 2.0,” objecting to the tax credits that while not helping the poorest would still involve some level of budgetary expense as well. Thus, it is expected that most of the Tea Party as well as every last Democrat will vote NO on the AHCA and that it will not pass. The failure of Trumpcare will in turn be a strategic defeat for Trump that has been said to endanger literally all other parts of his agenda

Video compilation showing the events at Trump Hotel, the march and a bit of the CD

Photo by Alejandro Alvarez

Photo by Alejandro Alvarez

Civil disobedience at the White House(photo by One Pennsylvania)

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DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network launches with march on White House

On the 21st of March, over 60 congregations came together to launch the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network. They gathered at Foundry United Methodist Church and marched down 16th st to the White House.

Sanctuary DMV and PICO National Network have come together to create the DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network. This network is asking congregations to take direct action against Trump’s racist terror and planned wave of up to 11 million deportations. Organizers published this statement:

“There are many ways for faith communities to stand with people who are being targeted. Some congregations are hosting people who are at risk of deportation; others are supporting those that are hosting; accompanying people to ICE check-ins and legal hearings; holding Defend Your Rights trainings; setting up Rapid Response networks to show up when ICE raids take place; and pressing their cities and states to get ICE out of schools, jails and courts and end all policies that racially-profile and over-incarcerate people of color.”

Photo by PICO Network

Photo by ImpeachNow

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DC Residents protest, close Wells Fargo accounts on eve of DC DAPL divestment bill

On the 20th of March, two DC residents closed their accounts with Wells Fargo over the bank’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline and other socially irresponsible investments such as private prisons. A protest outside the bank supported them. A bill directing the DC government to divest their about $2 billion in accounts with Wells Fargo was scheduled to be introduced the following day, March 21 and this protest was in part to suppport this DC Divest campaign.

A speaker at this protest called out Wells Fargo for not only funding the Dakota Access Pipeline but also for predatory lending/housing practices and for investing in private prisons.

Related: Netherlands-based ING Bank sells off entire stake in DAPL

Video from the DAPL protest and account closing event at Wells Fargo

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13 arrested in Annapolis fracking protest

On the 16th of March, 13 anti-fracking activists were arrested in front of the MD statehouse as they demanded the Senate pass a statewide, permanent ban on gas fracking. The bill has passed the House of Delegates by a veto-proof margin, but state Sen Mike Miller is reportedly sitting on the bill in the Senate. In addition, state Sen. Joan Carter Conway is suspected of planning to keep it off the agenda in the MD state Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.

There is a March 20 deadline known as “Crossover Day” by which bills must get out of at least one house of the MD legislature to have a chance of getting to the governor’s desk. The fracking ban has passed in the House of Delegates, but there are fears that the bill could die if Joan Carter Conway prevents a committee vote prior to March 20 anyway.

The gas industry lobbyists have been so brazen they have gotten a number of Western MD House of Delegates members to propose a 25% tax on renewable energy to fund “restitution” for lost profits if the fracking ban passes the state Senate. This is the sort of proposal that would be expected equally from Trump and from supporters of NAFTA/TPP style trade deals.

With Trump in office and prosecutors attempting to crush dissent with maximalist charges, it is a show of extreme courage that anyone would consider in-the-open civil disobedience with the expectation of arrest at this time. Days after the Inauguration, the Greenpeace members that dropped the “Resist” banner from a crane near the White House were charged with serious felonies. This on top of the unlawful mass arrest and felony riot charges against over 200 protesters at the Inauguration itself.

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#ProtectTransWomen Speakout held on Freedom Plaza

On the 15th of March, under a brutally cold wind, transgender folks and their allies held a “speakout” on Freedom Plaza. This was just days after vandals trashed Casa Ruby LBGT Community Center and assaulted staff members.

The current political and social environment has turned exceptionally dangerous for anyone who is not a white, cisgendered, heterosexual Christian. What began with Trump’s brazen attacks on Muslims and Latino people has spread into racist attacks on everyone who is not white, neo-Nazi bomb threats and violence against Jewish community centers, and hate crimes against gender and sexual preference nonconforming people. In just the first month after the election, the SPLC reported 1,094 bias-related incidents throughout the US. Murders of transgender women in 2017 have already run at the highest rate ever recorded according to the SPLC, including four murders just in the last week of February. The previous record for murders of transgender women was set in 2016.

Photo by Lauryn Gutierrez

Damage done to Casa Ruby by anti-trans vandals (photo by Nana Jibril)

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Old town Alexandria gets another protest against Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer

On the 11th of March, DC area antifacists assembled at Market Square in Alexandria, VA to protest neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer. He runs a headquarters for area neo-Nazis from his nearby home. One participant reported Spencer’s neighbors as “very supportive” of the protest after the march arrived at his house. This the latest in a string of demonstrations that have been taking place at least once a week at Richard Spencer’s house/Nazi and alt-right HQ.

The building in question contains a chocolate shop on the first floor, Richard Spencer has the second and third floors, which serve both as his home and as a headquarters for area alt-right/neo-Nazis.

This march and rally was organized by the DC Resistance Coalition. The flags of Socialist Alternative and of the IWW were visible, and some chants related to socialist/working class issues. Many different groups have been trading off protests against Richard Spencer, with church groups protesting at his house on many Sundays, generally at 12:30PM.

Video assembled from “Resistance Wing” Ustream

Gathering at Market Square before marching to Richard Spencer’s home/Nazi headquarters-Scott Thompson photo

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