Full house at St Stephens Town Hall against Amazon HQ2 coming to DC area

On the 22nd of May, a wide spectrum of community organizations held a town hall meeting at St Stephens Church to begin organizing strong opposition to proposals to locate Amazon.com’s “HQ2” in DC, Montgomery County, MD, or in Northern VA. One of the speakers revealed that the sudden push to close the homeless shelter at DC General may be to clear the site for Amazon to build there.

Closing the shelter at DC General for Amazon would be a repeat of why the original hospital there was closed back in 2001. Activists opposing that closure found maps related to former Mayor Tony “the Rat” William’s failed bid for the 2012 Olympics, which he wanted to attract to DC. The maps showed the Olympic archery range where the DC General building still stands. The hospital was closed over furious community opposition but the building was never demolished, and at the moment is a low quality but still very much needed shelter for homeless families. Of several possible locations for Amazon’s HQ2 in DC, the most likely is the DC General site, known as Reservation 13.

Both the Olympics and the Grand Prix were successfully stopped by community opposition from taking over the Kingman Park neihborhood surrounding the DC General complex. The Grand Prix was run once and never repeated, the Olympic Selection Committee encountered severe disruption from activists when they visited DC and responded by removing DC from the short list of cities in the running for the 2012 Olympics, which eventually went to London instead.

One lesson of the sucessful campaign to stop the Olympics vs the failed campaign to keep out Wal-Mart is that bids by cities to attract megaprojects work best (for developers) when the public is prevented from knowing of the existance of the bid until after the decisions have already been made. Heavy community opposition can deter a corporation from coming far more easily than it can drive off one that has already committed to the area. In this case, either Amazon did not realize the importance of concealing the entire process, they tried and failed, or something in the nature of bidding cities against oneanother may have made it impossible.

During the initial presentation, it was revealed that MD, DC, and VA are all offering billions of dollars in “incentives” and tax breaks to compete for Amazon’s HQ2. At the same time they are seeking to conceal as much as possible of their bids from the public, with Freedom of Information Act requests for documents in some cases getting only 100% redacted documents. MD is known to be offering $8.5 billion in “incentives” to locate in Montgomery County (at White Flint), but even there much is being kept secret.

Beyond the DC General shelter issue, speakers had a huge variety ofvery strong reasons why Amazon should not be allowed to come here. Several mentioned Amazon’s ugly record of aggressive corporate tax avoidance. Also repeated raised was Amazon’s ugly record of driving gentrification in Seattle. Seattle has extreme problems with rent hikes and transportation issues created by the existing Amazon headquarters there. Amazon has elsewhere been compared to “Wal-Mart on steroids.” DC under existing law offers tech companies like Amazon a $5,000 per worker tax credit to relocate their existing workers to DC instead of hiring people who already live in the city. One speaker reported this as being even higher, at $7, 500 per employee. If Amazon brings 50,000 non-local employees to town and a significant fraction of them are high-paid management or programmers, the result will be big rent hikes as landlords evict local residents and replace them with higher-paying Amazon workers. Kingman Park would probably suffer a complete population replacement, Anacostia across the river from DC General would be gentrified, and the rent hikes would ripple outward at least as far as Metro reaches.

A location at White Flint in Montgomery County, MD would probably block traffic for most of the day on Rt 355 and surrounding road. Mostly likely Amazon and Montgomery County would rely on the now under construction Purple Line for transportation and encourage out-of-area Amazon workers to move into Langley Park on the opposite end of the Purple Line. That could explain the sudden interest in cracking down on alleged “gang activity” in Langley Park. For Amazon’s workers to move into Langley Park, the established Latinx community must first be moved out. Again like the Olympics, a mega-corporation like Amazon would bring intensive policing to neighborhoods targetted for population replacement, what has happened in Langley Park may be the beginning of this.

Sponsors of the Town Hall included Sponsors: Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America, Empower DC, ONE DC, Fair Budget Coalition, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, DC Reinvest, Bread for the City, UFCW Local 400, Movement for Black Lives DC, Stop Police Terror Project, SURJ NOVA, SURJ MOCO

Video highlights of the town hall plus author’s observation on historical precedent of hospital closure for failed Olympic bid

FOIA requests for information on “taxpayer incentives” for Amazon to come to DC/MD/VA get near totally redacted documents

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Conoco-Phillips office in DC gets protest over attempt to sieze Venezuala/CITGO assets

In the aftermath of yet another election in Venezuala that US backed candidates failed to win, the US Dept of State is imposing more sanctions on Venezuala and multinational oil company Conoco-Phillips is attemptiomg to sieze Venezualan oil assets including tankers. Here in DC, protesters showed up at Conoco-Phillip’s lobbying office to denounce this brazen attempt at piracy

Any attempt by Conoco-Phillips or any other corporation to sieze ships at sea is literal piracy as it has been defined for over 2,000 years. Due to the pirate threat, Venezuala has been forced to recall and hold all of their oil tankers in domestic ports, out of reach of armed thugs hired by Conoco-Phillips. By law the captain and crew of any ship may use any amount of force to resist attack by pirates.

Since in this case, the pirates have offices and gas stations all over the US, bringing political pressure to bear is easy. Protesters will be descending on a variety of targets associated with Conoco-Phillips as long as they continue to attack Venezuala, and a boycott of Phillips 66 gas stations is also in order. No matter what happens politically in Venezuala, US sanctions or shutting down CITGO by blocking oil exports can only increase the severity of the economic distress felt by the people of Venezuala.

The current round of economic problems began not with any political event inside Venezuala but rather with the 2014 collapse of oil prices. That collapse was triggered by Saudi attempts to put the US fracking and Canadian tar sands nightmares out of business. It made the tar sands unprofitable, but frackers concentrated on only the most profitable areas, thus staying in business and glutting oil markets even further. Now oil prices are going back up, driven by Trump’s saber rattling against Iran. This could stabilize Venezuala’s economy and put a stop to food shortages, as the whole economy relies on oil. Of course, if Trump and Conoco-Phillips’s pirates force Venezuala’s oil tankers to sit out high oil prices in home port, this windfall will be missed, and Trump at all want instability and regime change.

Video from in front of Conoco-Phillips(1 min 8 sec)

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Poor People’s Campaign protests inside US Capitol, about 50 arrests

On the 21st of May, the Poor People’s Campaign returned to the US Capitol for a second round of civil disobedience. While cops lined the street to prevent a second round of obstructive street protest, activists went inside the US Capitol itself and protested there. Reports at the scene were of approximately 50 arrests resulting.

This time around, arrestees were released at the scene with a later court date for arraignment. The previous week, US Capitol Police ran out of jail space.

Video-Capitol Police threaten support team with arrest for protesting without a permit

Cops line the street to block a second round of traffic-blocking marches or blockades

Arrestees lined up outside after protesting inside the US Capitol

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Haitians, allies protest Trump’s deportation plans and “shithole” insults

On May 19th the 1804 Movement for All Immigrants gathered in front of the White House. They were protesting Trump’s decision to end TPS for Haitian and Central American refugees, and his related remarks calling their countries “shitholes.”

Speakers celebrated Haiti’s history of one of the few entirely successful slave uprisings in all human history, which defeated 90,000 troops sent by Napolean in a failed attempt to crush the rebelliion. Ever since, the white supremacist nations and notably the US have treated Haiti like dirt. As for “shithole countries,” the US has rotting infrastructure, ever-expanding poverty mirrored by obscene wealth, the largest prison population on Earth, and for that matter, people were standing in mud almost in front of the Presidents house! Trump is in no position to speak of such things.

As the protest continued many young people from a tour group asked for signs and joined the protest. This shows just how unpopular Trump really is! I did not see this even in early 1980’s protests against Reagan’s attempts to bring back the draft for his war in El Salvador

Video: tourists join the protesters in front of the White House

Backup Post of same video as above on Liveleak

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Blockade in front of Trump Hotel, Protest at White House after over 50 Palestinians killed protesting Embassy move

Update-video moved to Liveleak after Archive took it down Video of the afternoon protest at the White House including Ray McGovern 4 min 30 sec

The 14th of May marked the opening of Trump’s new US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. When Palestinians tried to protest with a peaceful march to the Apartheid Wall, Israeli snipers and troops opened fire. Reports are that 58 protesters were killed and over 1,000 wounded. Here in DC, IfNotNow blocked Penn Ave in front of Trump Hotel and a second group protested in front of the White House against this outrage.

The first up of the DC protests was IfNotNow erecting their own “Embassy of Freedom” right in front of Trump Hotel on Penn Ave, totally shutting down the street during the AM rush hour. Later in the day, protesters, many who had been busy at the US Capitol with the Poor People’s Campaign protesters showed up at the White House with picket signs, a casket, flowers, and mock tombstones. The keynote speaker in front of the White House was George McGovern, whose hands and wrists were injured and his arm dislocated by police when he protested on May 9 at torturer Gina Haspell’s confirmation hearing as CIA director. Bruises were still clearly visible on his arms from this brazen (though at least not lethal) police brutality.

Israel’s choice to brazenly shoot down peaceful protesters at the Gaza Wall is no doubt what Donald Trump really wanted to do when protesters opposed his Inauguration. Thus, the near certainty that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem would lead to protests, and the likelihood that Israel would use armed force to stop the protests were no deterrent to Trump’s choice to move the Embassy.

During his campaign for office, Donald Trump called on his supporters to beat up protesters, and once said “remember the time when people used to go out on a stretcher.” While he was unable order the National Guard to open fire on Inauguration protesters, he no doubt is responsible through his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the extreme charges filed against originally over 200 protesters arrested on J20, with 58 people still facing decades in prison and four on trial right now. Given these factors it should be assumed that the Israeli snipers who killed 52 protesters at the Gaza Wall on May 14th did so with the full blessing and support of the government of the United Snakes of AmeriKKKa. The blood of these protesters is on Trump’s hands.

AM Rush hour: IfNotNow photo of march on the way to 12th and Penn for the blockade

Gili Getz photo of the morning Penn Ave blockade in front of Trump Hotel

About 5:30PM:Protesting Israel shooting protesters, at the White House which can control US arms exports to Israel

Coffins and tombstones symbolize 52 protesters shot and killed by Israeli snipers as the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem. More have been killed in prior protests.

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Mass civil disobedience arrests as Poor People’s Campaign kicks off at US Capitol

On the 14th of May, the Poor People’s Campaign kicked off six weeks of direct action with civil disobedience in cities all over Turtle Island, resulting in hundreds of arrests. Here in DC, protesters marched into the streets from the US Capitol and were quickly but partially kettled by US Capitol Police. The route back to one sidewalk was not blocked but protesters stood their ground and were then arrested.

One report said over 150 people were in the “risking arrest” portion of what had been a much larger march. Another reported that arrestees overflowed the US Capitol Police holding facility.

The Poor People’s CampaIgn is rooted in pastors and faith communities, and stands against virtually all of the policies of Trump and the GOP that have exacerbated poverty in the US. Demands include equal pay for equal work, fully funding all antipoverty programs, decent and safe public housing, the repeal of the 2017 Trump Tax bill, relief from student and consumer debt, and a guarateed minimum income among many others.

Video of the civil disobedience (3 min 27 sec) on Liveleak after being removed by Archive.org

Police block the march before it can reach the Independence Ave intersection, use a “half-kettle” formation

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Rally and Actions on Eve of next J20 trial demand charges be dropped

On the 11th of May, activists held a protest in Franklin Square park in front of lunchtime yuppies to demand that the US Government drop all charges against all J20 defendents and cancel the trials. The keynote speaker was Chelsea Manning. The night before, DropJ20 tags appeared in Columbia Heights.

This report on the tagging operation was sent anonymously to itsgoingdown.org.

Also on May 10, a community discussion on the J20 cases and their relationship to the earlier Green Scare cases was held featuring no less than former Political Prisoner Daniel McGowen at St Stephens.

This call on itsgoingdown.org includes the line “We are writing this call, because we desire the cancellation of the May 14th trial or to have this and each subsequent trial come at a cost. This hostage situation cannot continue.”

With this communique, the graffiti, and public protests It appears that Jennifer Kerkhoff has pushed this matter entirely too far. She is being taken off the J20 cases after the May 14th trial, and if this trial like the November trial ends in acquitals, she can probably forget her dreams of becoming a Federal judge.

Video of the May 11 rally featuring Chelsea Manning

Rally demanding J20 charges be dropped

Drop J20 banner

One of the tags in Colombia Heights

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