DC Bike Party holds “Cherry Blossom Chase” ride

On the 11th of April, the DC held their first fully promoted ride of the year, billed as the “Cherry Blossom Chase.” The ride went over Memorial Bridge before going to Independence Ave and Haines Point under the cherry blosssoms.

Video highlights of the Cherry Blossom Chase ride

The ride went straight to Memorial Bridge from Dupont Circle

Returning from Memorial Bridge en route to cherry blossoms on Mall

DC Bike Party on Independence Ave

DC Bike Party approaching Haines Point. Bikes extend far ahead and far behind this scene

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Black Lives Matter blockades NY Ave, Chinatown after hearing for killer cop

On the 11th of April, MPD officer Brian Trainer had administrative hearing concerning MPD’s internal review board’s finding that he should be fired for shooting motorcyclist Terrence Sterling on Sep 11, 2016. The evening after the hearing, Black Lives Matter DC, SURJ-DC, No Justice No Pride, and others blockaded NY Ave and Chinatown to remind Mayor Bowser that letting killer cops walk carries a price tag.

That price tag includes lost shopping business in Chinatown, and it includes the angry drivers of some very expensive cars who find the can’t get back to their million dollar condos past the spot where Terrence Sterling was killed. By comparison, more than a few African-American drivers honked in support of the protest and raised the V-sign or other supportive gestures. One sign in the protest read “Fire TraIner or Bounce Bowser. Bowser has offended a large number of DC’S Black voters, and the price tag for her support of police brutality and murder could very well include being DC’s third one-term mayor in a row.

Even MPD’s own internal review board(the one they themselves control)has ruled that Ofc Brian Trainer’s choice to pull his gun and shoot Terrence Sterling “was not in defense of his life nor was it in defense of the lives of others.” His earlier decision to chase Brian’s motorcycle with his police car was also a violation of MPD’s own “no-chase” rule. He is on leave but has not even lost his job. By comparison, had Terrence Sterling had access to a gun, used it to shoot Brian Trainer, and somehow avoided being shot on the spot, he would been held without bond until a trial that could be years after the incident. Brian Trainer is not in jail at all, in fact he is on VACATION for essentially the same offense! This case is therefore a shocking example of a double-standard in “justice.” It shows how there is one standard for police and quite another for the city’s African-American residents.

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J20 day of solidarity: petitions delivered to US Attorney’s office and more

On the 17th of April, the next J20 trial begins. The defendents are some of the 59 people still facing up to 61 years in prison for daring to protest Trump’s inauguration on Jan 20, 2018. On the 10th of April, supporters dropped off nearly 180,000 signed petitions demanding all these charges be dropped at the US Attorney’s office here in DC. Other actions took place elsewhere.


Video explaining the current status and implications of the case from itsgoingdown.org

Activists from #DefendJ20, @RightsDissent, and @xychelsea drop off pettions at the U$ Attorney’s office

Solidarity banner drop in Baltimore

Stand with the heroes who stood up for you on Jan 20 2017!

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Medicare for All march drags ball and chain through the streets of DC

On the 9th of march, activists organized by a Single Payer Action Camp dragged a giant ball and chain from the American Health Insurance Plans office past the Canadian Embassy and the US Capitol to the Department of Health and Human Services. They were demanding that the failing ACA be replaced by a “Medicare for All,” single payer system as used in all other industrialized nations.

The stop at the Canadian Embassy was to emphasize that Canada’s national health care system was based on what the US had done with Medicare, except that everyone in the country is covered. Speakers pointed out that Canada is doing better than the US on life expectancy and infant mortality even while spending only half what the US does on health care per capita.

By comparison, a speaker at the Dept of Health and Human Services reminded everyone that Trump has installed former Eli Lily executive Alez Azar as head of Health and Human Services. How installing an executive of one of the corporations responsible for insane drug prices (as much as $100,000 a year for some long-term prescriptions) is supposed to lower drug prices Trump has not explained. Trump promised Azar would “lower drug prices” and deliver better healthcare but that appears to just another one of Trump’s “alternative facts.” Current Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks has explicitly rejected calls for lower drug prices, claiming that the current wave of high-priced drugs are “the best deal going” in healthcare. Ricks claims drug prices only appear high because increasingly they are paid directly by consumers and not insurance companies. Of course, if every drug Pig Pharma wanted to charge $100K a year for was covered by every health plan, premiums would be measured in thousands of dollars per month. Meanwhile, for decades Big Pharma’s lobbyists have ensured that programs like Medicaid and Medicare are explicitly prohibited from negotiating to demand lower drug prices. One speaker at the final rally (at HHS) pointed out that the VA’s prescription drug benefit program predated the lobbying blitz, so the VA is able to offer a total monthly cap of $8 out of pocket.

Thus Trump’s “attack” on high drug prices is presumably for public consumption only, while his true policies will surely be designed to protect Big Pharma’s profits at any price in blood and treasure. This would be consistant with other Trump policies, with who Trump is and with his history. Pay attention to Trump’s “rap sheet,” not what he tells you to believe!

Video-Activists drag a ball and chain from the health insurance lobbists to HHS

Corporate healthcare is a ball-and chain!

First stop was American Health Insurance Plans, the lobbying arm of for-profit health “insurance”

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Howard University occupation ends in victory with 7 of original 9 demands met

Late afternoon on the 6th of April, student negotiators emerged from a meeting with the Howard University trustees with a signed agreement in hand. Shortly therafter it was reported that the nine day occupation of the administration building has come to an end, the students having essentially won. Protest works, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Here is the agreement the Howard University administrators have signed, as published in mainstream media outlets:

Howard University Board of Trustees and Howard Administration Commitments

This Statement of Commitments, dated April 6, 2018, issued by the Howard University Board of Trustees and the University Administration, addresses concerns that have been raised about student life at Howard University. While the commitments may have been discussed with HUResist and HUSA leaders, in light of recent events, these commitments are meant to address the needs, and are for the benefit and welfare, of the entire Howard University community.

• The deadline for submitting the institution’s $200 housing deposit was extended to May 1, 2018. A community wide announcement of the extension was already shared on April 1, 2018.

• If the housing deadline extension results in a significant number of students requesting on- campus housing, the Quad renovation will be delayed to accommodate additional occupancy.

• Howard will engage students in examining the adequacy of on-campus housing to meet Howard’s housing policy that states: “All Howard University first year (0 or 1 completed semesters of post- high school education) and second year (2 or 3 completed semesters of post-high school education) students under the age of 21 will be required to live on campus, unless living at home with a parent or guardian,” and measure against bed availability.

• Students will have a voice in selecting the student ombudsperson. The ombudsperson will be a graduate student who will be located in the Blackburn Center, and will report to the VP for Student Affairs and is expected to attend the Board Student Life and Affairs Committee meetings to make reports.

• The health and well-being of our community is of critical importance, and the Board and administration want to be supportive of the well-being of our students. Howard will implement the Proposal for a Joint Student-Administration Task Force to Enhance Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Services, dated April 1, 2018. Counseling provided under this Proposal will place emphasis on helping students overcome the anxiety of reporting sexual violence to the authorities. The Task Force will be co-chaired by a student and review the process for intake and will report to the Vice President for Student Affairs.

• The Board recognizes the cost of tuition is an area of utmost importance to the entire Howard community. Howard will commit to making a recommendation to the Board to consider holding undergraduate tuition at current levels for the academic year 2019-20 while working with the Tuition Rates and Fees Committee, which already includes student representation, to assess tuition and fees for academic year 2020-21. As part of this process, the University will make comparative data used to inform its decisions available to the student body.

• While Howard’s goal has always been to ensure the safety of our campus community, a separate task force, co-chaired by a student, will be created to undertake a comprehensive review of the Howard Department of Public Safety, focusing on its engagement with the Howard student body, the use of force, training and whether there is a need for armed officers. The task force shall be represented by administration, faculty and student stakeholders, will include experts in criminal justice, and will set forth the process and timeline for its work. The task force will be established by July 1, 2018.

• The Board agrees to establish a task force, co-chaired by a student, with representation from the Howard student body and Howard administration to review existing grievance mechanisms at the University, and best practices at other universities, and establishing a grievance system that holds faculty, administrators and students accountable in their language and actions towards anyone in the Howard community. Any inappropriate behavior goes against Howard’s core values and will not be tolerated by the Howard community. Howard will maintain the existing anonymous hotline as a channel to report such grievances. Professors will be reminded of their obligations to advise students of how to avail themselves of the grievance process for questioning grades.

• The Board is committed to fostering and maintaining an academic and living environment that is free of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of interpersonal violence. As part of our commitment, we recently thoroughly assessed our Title IX policies and processes, gathered student, faculty and staff feedback during this process, and unveiled last year a new interim Title IX Policy on Prohibited Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment. To further support this critical area for our campus community, a task force, co-chaired by a student, will be established with representation from the Howard student body, faculty and administration for the purpose of examining the current climate on Howard’s campus around sexual assault, sexual harassment and interpersonal violence and providing feedback to the administration on changes in policy and process as appropriate to improve student safety and prevent sexual assault, sexual harassment and interpersonal violence. Included in the scope of work of the task force, working with the Office of the Provost, is consideration of instituting a mandatory 1-credit course with a curriculum designed to emphasize prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment and interpersonal violence. Every reasonable action will be taken to start up the task force so that it can begin its work before April 30, 2018. For the sake of clarity, the proposal to establish Howard University Hospital as a site for rape kit examinations of victims of sexual assault is a matter of local law and is not part of this commitment. The University will provide transportation to sexual assault victims to Washington Hospital Center, the location where rape kit examinations are administered.

• Howard will support a student-led effort to establish a food pantry in the LeDroit-Shaw community and will allocate money for that purpose. Student volunteer involvement in service to, and fundraising for, the food pantry will be encouraged. Students are commended for the concern shown for the greater LeDroit-Shaw community and at Howard, we always want to be good community stewards. A plan for the food pantry will be submitted by students to the VP for External Affairs by June 1, 2018. While the University has a long history of commitment to and involvement in the community, the University will consider by June 1, 2019 the establishment of a community development organization which might allow for more inclusive community engagement on select real estate projects where no contractual obligations currently exist (not involving existing real estate holdings or immediate core development opportunities). The University’s Ethics Policy requires that it comply with “the requirements of laws.” As a party to eight collective bargaining agreements, the University is subject to the National Labor Relations Act relating to fair labor practices. The University will continue to draw on the resources of the School of Law’s Fair Housing Clinic to assist members of the community.

• Subject to approval of the Board Governance Committee, a Board Committee on Student Life and Affairs will be established on which trustees, including student trustees, the President of HUSA and other appropriate stakeholders, will engage with the student body, providing a forum to convey concerns regarding all aspects of student life to the Board as needed. The Howard administration will create more opportunities for dialogue with students and the Committee will establish a mechanism for such engagement.

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Howard students hold rally outside Kwame Ture Student Center (former Admin building)

The 5th of April was the 8th day of the occupation of the former Adminstration building now known as the Kwame Ture Student Center at Howard University. Students marked the occasion with a spirited rally outside, and announced that negotiations are going well.

Video highlights of the rally

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Two DC Marches Remember 50th Anniversary of MLK’s assasination

On the 4th of April, marchers took to the streets across the US to remember the 50th anniversary of the murder of civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King. Two of these marches took place in DC.

The first was a 7:30AM march from the MLK Memorial to the Mall, where a stage was set up for the rally2endracism. The second march was at about 6PM from Howard University (where students are holding the administration building) to Ben’s Chili Bowl on U St.

The march from Howard included a special touch: two participants near the lead of the march wore the livery of African-American Union troops in the 1861-1865 Civil War, one carrying a sword. The march stopped at the African-American Civil War Memorial for a minute of silence honoring these solders who fought and so often died to put an end to slavery.

Much of the violent racist hate that divides the US today is essentially unchanged since what some have gone so far as to call “Civil War I.” The hate and racism that the Donald Trump campaign and presidency have revealed did not come from Trump, he only encouraged the purveyors of hate to crawl out of the sewers and show themselves openly.

Video highlights of both marches

Setting out from the MLK Memorial for the rally2endracism, about 7:30AM

Marchers arriving at the rally2endracism stage

Marching down Ga Ave from Howard University

Honoring African-American troops who fought against slavery in the 1861-1865 Civil War

Marchers on U St

The second march ended at Ben’s Chili Bowl

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