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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Native Nations Rising march erects tipi at Trump Hotel, marches on White House

On the 10th of March, the Standing Rock Sioux backed by thousands of Native Americans and allies from all over Turtle Island marched from the US Army Corps of Engineers to the White House. The youth led the march, carrying tipi poles. At Trump Hotel they advanced onto the sidewalk and set up a full size, traditional tipi right in front of the hotel.

At the White House, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archimbault II gave this speech in front of the White House. The core of the speech was these three paragraphs concerning the threat that menaces us all:

“From the very beginning, those seeking to build an empire described our ancestors as “limited owners” or mere occupants of the land. They were free to do as they willed. Centuries later, we still see this happening. We see the alleged minority community interests of Bismarck, North Dakota outweighing the interests of our entire tribe. We see corporations being allowed to take shortcuts with the federal government that bypass regulations put in place to protect basic human health.

“We see this everywhere. Many tribes across this country and Indigenous Nations around the world are struggling with this very same problem—the imperialistic, conquistador spirit is so deeply embedded in Western and capitalistic society that hundreds of years later, our government is using the exact same arguments to disavow the safety and well-being of entire populations. Not only do they disrespect people of a different origin, they disrespect the treaty rights retained by the original Americans.

“We are in dark and unknown territory. Very real threats to our way of life and our freedom are being issued daily, and we are facing a realistic dismantling of our country as we know it.

“Fellow Americans; allies—I stand with you. I hope that you understand that this is the way my fellow Native Americans have felt for centuries. Now we are all in the same boat. We are facing a regime that has no regard for American values, and does not hesitate to fly in the face of the law to benefit the immature antics of an unhinged leader and his moneyed friends.”

Video of the march featuring the tipi raising at Trump Hotel(4 min 10 sec)

Raising the tipi at Trump Hotel

Stepping off at the US Army Corps of Engineers

A Trump “MAGAt” hat pierced by Lakota arrows

The march spread out on Penn Ave. When this was shot the march also stretched far up 15th st

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FOX News runs vicious hatchet job on Native Nations Rising encampment against DAPL on Mall

Update March 15:FOX Reporter Marina Maracco was identified on March 9 by Black Lives Matter activists as the person behind this sorry excuse for a news report. Activists are demanding FOX News fire Maracco for this slander, as of March 15 FOX News has yet to comply and should thus be regarded as endorsing all of Maracco’s pack of lies about DC protests and protesters.

On the 8th of March, FOX 5 News ran a slanderous hatchet job of a story about the Native Nations Rising camp on the Mall behind the White HouseThey mixed the story about Tipis behind the White House and the Dakota Access Pipeline with old B-roll from the Inauguration showing burning trash cans and riot cops, then ran interviews where protesters were criticized for not knowing irrelevant facts, like states other than North Dakota where the Dakota Access Pipeline passes or its exact length (1172 miles).

Tipis are being set up on the Mall for Native Nations Rising, which will culminate at 10AM on Friday, March 9 with a march to the White House from the US Army Corps of Engineers at 441 G st NW.

FOX whined about a male cameraman being denied access to a Tipi designated explicitly as a women’s space, and tried to imply the entire camp was women only before finally admitting that it was this single tipi from which men were excluded. They stopped just short of legally actionable slander on this point.

Exactly how long the pipe is from the fracking fields of North Dakota to the tank farm at Patoka, Illinois is of little relevance beyond the possibilty that more miles of pipe are more opportunities for a spill. Even the now-routine alt-right/Trump lie about “paid protesters” was raised at the end of the story. Seemingly everyone in the activist community wonders where this mythical money is.

There are several possible reasons for a pro-Trump, pro pipeline TV station to freely mix DisruptJ20 clips with footage of tipis standing behind the White House. Maybe they are not satisfied with calling anticapitalists and anti-Fascists “thugs and terrorists,” and now want to expand that label to anyone who threatens their oil profits? This sort of thing has been seen before, and Fascists in general make a point of accusing their enemies of that which they themselves are guilty of, such as terrorism and thug behavior. The amount of flat-out terrorism and thuggery on the part of the resource extraction firms against Indigneous people is just totally off the scale.

Alternately, maybe someone is trying to get a nasty faction fight going on a “good protesters, bad protesters” split and drive a wedge between anticapitalists and environmentalists. It could also be between white environmentalists and Native American activists that they are trying to set the wedge, and this would be consistant with some of the other parts of the FOX News coverage, notably questioning people who look white until they find someone who cannot answer some irrelevant question like the exact length of the pipeline.

FOX’s DisruptJ20 clips wern’t even good ones. FOX just showed riot cops in a line and burning trash cans. They did not show the protester charging directly into a blast of pepper spray to rescue an elderly Native woman and a protester on crutches pepper sprayed by police. FOX did not show half of the marchers trapped in a blatantly illegal mass arrest charging the police lines with an umbrella as a shield against pepper spray and escaping. They just focussed on a burning trash can probably meant as a barricade to stop police vehicles that ended up accumulating a huge crowd of photographers instead.

Riot cops were in fact been a major part of the events at Standing Rock-as agressors brutalizing peaceful water protectors who generally were on Lakota land praying as police opened fire with water cannon, pepper spray, rubber bullets, grenades, and attack dogs. FOX News could have showed plenty of relevant footage of shocking police brutality in N Dakota, but instead showed marchers months later in DC who could well have concluded that if they were going to be beaten and gassed for praying, they may as well get beaten and gassed for giving Big Business and Trump’s “MAGATs” a headache to remember them by.

FOX News yakked about “out of state protesters,” even though DC is the home of the Federal government and the capital of the entire US. Again they brought up the Counterinaugural, forgetting that an inauguration is a national event and that most of the Trumpers were also from out of town.

Now for the facts you won’t get from FOX about the pipeline itself. The DAPL originates in North Dakota, where oil fracking has led to displacement of Native people to make way for “man camps.” Rape and sexual assault have soared around the camps. The oil is fracked from shale. For Native Americans near the fracking fields this has been a disaster. The climate aspects of unconventional fossil fuel extraction have pulled in environmental activists from all over Turtle Island, but the fight over the DAPL is not about climate, it’s about water. If the pipeline breaks where it crosses under Lake Oahe, the entire water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux reservation will be permanently contaminated. The pipeline was rerouted away from Bismarck, N Dakota for the exact same reason, as a pipeline break at the original river crossing would have destroyed that city’s water supply.

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