Great turnout for our June general membership meeting! We heard a report from DSAer Khalid Kamau on his recent electoral victory in South Fulton (standing in photo at left); updates from Asma Elhuni on the vicious destruction of Tent City by GSU police; inspirational words from Erin Parks about Our Revolution's local electoral work; and many other agenda items, including a straw poll in favor of leaving the Socialist International (the actual vote will take place at the convention); a motion regarding a local Confederate monument; and - last but not least - we voted to endorse Sen. Vincent Fort for Mayor of Atlanta.
We also elected a full slate of 13 delegates and 2 alternates to represent us in August at the Democratic Socialists of America's National Convention! The delegates: Jeb Boone, Adam Cardo, Scott Douglas, Anat Fintzi, Chad Floyd, Daniel Hanley, Barbara Joye, Brad Lathem, Erin Parks, Eric Robertson, Maxwell Ruppersburg, Ron Spears, and Matthew Wolfsen, and alternates Reid Jenkins and Tom Ladendorf, will be meeting during the next couple of months to discuss the issues that they will be voting on at the convention.See y'all in Chicago! #yallidarity Report and photo: Scott Douglas
Minutes after daybreak on Friday, June 2, the Tent City ATL resistance camp at Turner Field was raided and destroyed by a task force led by GSU police. Camp protesters awoke to officers wearing rubber gloves and wielding knives as they began to slash tents from their pallets. Five protesters, including both GSU students and community allies, who had camped overnight were present as the raid began.
During the raid, one officer was overheard saying: “They should have been warned last night.” Turner Field Coalition leadership affirmed that the raid and destruction of the camp came without warning, despite GSU Police Chief Joseph Spillane reportedly having contact information for the resident leadership. This wasn’t the first encounter with GSU police during the 63-day occupation. During the raid, campus police also tried to intimidate camp members by threatening them with charges of criminal trespass; however, no arrests were made.
Residents, along with students and allies, have been holding space in front of Turner Field since April 1 in an effort to raise awareness about the lack of community involvement with the planning of upcoming developments around the Turner Field neighborhoods, including Summerhill and Peoplestown. For over three years, the Turner Field Benefits Coalition has been meeting and studying successful models for a legally binding community benefits agreement and has created a draft proposal. In fact, over the last few weeks Georgia State University and Carter Developments have been in ongoing negotiations with the Coalition. This raid and destruction of the camp clearly indicates a lack of good faith on the part of the university and illustrates their continued disrespect for the very communities of which they want to be a part. GSU student activists and allies are now calling for the removal of GSU President Mark Becker. While next steps for the Coalition are still being determined, the fight against gentrification and displacement of these neighborhoods is far from over.
For more information on how to get involved follow Housing Justice League on Facebook or visit the Coalition website at turnerfieldcoalition.org.
Report and photo: Reagan Cooper
Reagan Cooper posted on FB: "This card-carrying socialist just finished canvassing Grant Park for my man, Sen. Vincent Fort for mayor!"
Members Marshall Rancifer (Justice for All Coalition), Johnny Martinez(GA Beer Garden), and friend of DSA Amy Mei Willis (National Lawyers Guild) expose businesses' discrimination against Atlanta's homeless population, despite the progressive and hip trappings of Atlanta's rapidly gentrifying Edgewood Avenue corridor, in a report by Creative Loafing: "The Fight for Edgewood Avenue." (Check out Marshall's buttons in the photo.) Thanks to Daniel Hanley for bringing this to our attention!
We joined Atlanta Jobs With Justice and the Georgia AFL/CIO in Rev. James Orange Park April 30, to commemorate Workers' Memorial Day honoring workers killed or injured on the job and build for the next day's May Day rally and action at City Hall.
Here, MADSA's Ian Fletcher, people's historian, recalls for us the origins of May Day/International Workers' Day. Background, center: MADSA chair Milt Tambor. Wearing signs: Three of the MADSA members and friends who brought to life heroes and heroines of U.S. labor history (left to right): Cesar Chavez (Adrian Bernal), Albert Parsons (David Christian), and Lucy Parsons (Jaira Burke). Others not shown portrayed Big Bill Haywood (Michael Lavender), Mother Jones (Heather Gray), Joe Hill (Georgia Slim, a.k.a Cullen Brown, of the band I Want Whiskey), Eugene Victor Debs (Walter Reeves), A. Phillip Randolph (Edward Young), and Dorothy Bolden (Pat Sauls). At right, blue shirt: Barbara Joye coordinated the history project. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Our contingent enthusiastically joined many other organizations at the May 1 rally led by Atl. JwJ and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, to call for a minimum of $15/hr for Atlanta city workers, sanctuary for immigrants, a Community Benefits Agreement for the Turner Field neighborhoods, and other demands for dignity and human rights. After the rally we swarmed into the City Council meeting, where dozens of us spoke out in the "public comment" section of the agenda. Photos: Barbara Joye, Reid Freeman Jenkins
MADSA member Ian Fletcher will kick off the April 30 event with a brief history of May Day, followed by MADSA members and friends bringing to life "Heroes and Heroines of U.S. Labor History" and much more. For details: bit.ly/MAYDAYATL2017PREP. May 1 will be a day of action at City Hall, with the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, and many others. For details: bit.ly/MAYDAYATL2017
Daniel Hanley and Barbara Segal, among other MADSA members, marched for science with thousands of other Atlantans, April 22.
Khalid kamau, a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member and endorsed candidate for City Council in South Fulton, Georgia (center in photo), won in today’s election with 67 percent of the vote. Kamau defeated Charlean Parks, who finished second in the five-way primary race on March 21st. In addition to DSA, he was endorsed by Our Revolution, Teamsters Local 728, and Street Groomers.
“Far too many elected officials start their day thinking of your boss instead of you — but the working people of South Fulton will have a City Council member on their side: khalid kamau,” explained Maria Svart, Democratic Socialists of America's national director. “Khalid’s win today is a tremendous victory for his community and a shot across the bow for politics as usual nationwide.”
Erin Parks, a Metro Atlanta DSA chapter member and kamau campaign volunteer expressed enthusiasm: “Khalid's campaign and victory prove that teamwork and a people-centered platform can prevail against all odds. His win is a harbinger of things to come in the Metro Atlanta progressive movement.”
Khalid is a co-founder of the Atlanta chapter of Black Lives Matter and a labor organizer for the Amalgamated Transit Union. As an active member of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Units, he helped develop a neighborhood watch program and negotiated on behalf of his community in development projects. Khalid is also active in environmental justice and LGBTQ rights advocacy.
Khalid entered today’s runoff election after coming in first place in a five-way primary election held in March with 43%. In that race, khalid won twice as many votes as the next runner up, and the highest percentage of any candidate running for any office in South Fulton. DSA members across the country made thousands of phone calls on behalf of khalid for both rounds of the election.
Khalid is the second DSA member to win local office this month. Dylan Parker was elected to Rock Island, Illinois’ City Council as 5th Ward Alderman on April 4th. There are now 14 DSA members holding public office, including Carlos Rosa, Chicago’s 35th Ward Alderman; Mike Sylvester, of the Maine House of Representatives; and Julie Ann Nitsch, Austin Community College Board of Trustee in Texas.
When I received an email invitation from Gus Cochran inviting me to speak to his April 17 political science class on democratic socialism at Agnes Scott, I jumped at the opportunity. Talking up democratic socialism and the work of DSA would be an experience I could only relish. In my conversation with Gus I learned that the Sanders campaign had prompted him to offer a first-time class on democratic socialism entitled the "Politics of Social Democracy." Gus had begun teaching at Agnes Scott in the 70's and helped bring Michael Harrington to speak at the campus in the early 80's.
The syllabus included readings by Marx, Bernstein and Lenin in a survey of socialism in the first part of the 20th century. In assessing the prospects of democratic socialism in the 21st century, he examined movements in the US - Occupy, Black Lives Matter and the Sandernista political revolution - as well as the alternative left political parties in Europe - Die Linke, Syriza and Podemos. A most pleasant surprise was the inclusion of The ABCs of Socialism (Jacobin) as a key reading.
My presentation revolved around a packet of literature I distributed to the 20 students in class: Isserman's history of the American Left, Cornel West's flier on the alternative to capitalism being socialism, and copies of our own MADSA pamphlet, newsletter and Douglass Debs 2016 program booklet.
The students raised interesting questions: “How does democratic socialism differ from social democracy? How can millennials talk to their parents about democratic socialism? How does the Democratic Socialists of America as an organization relate to the Democratic Party?” A high point of the morning came after class when several students expressed interest in starting a Young Democratic Socialists chapter on their campus.
(Note: Our national office now employs a YDS organizer to help campus groups form chapters of our youth section. See http://www.ydsusa.org/start_a_chapter)
MADSA member Josh Tuccio brought this flag to the Tax Day rally and march April 15, demanding that President Trump release his tax returns. Way to go, Josh!