Statement by the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America on the vulgar hit piece against member Anoa Changa

Today, Atlanta NPR affiliate WABE published a baseless and racist hit piece against prominent black activist and member of the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Anoa Changa.

In the proto-fascist milieu of contemporary American politics, it is vitally important that we lift up voices of color and support women like Anoa who stand in resolute defiance of white supremacy.

It’s wrong to disregard legitimate commentary raised on important matters of racial and social justice as simply being tools of a foreign state without consideration for the veracity and reputation of the people speaking.

Unfortunately, many that would consider themselves allies to oppressed peoples point toward foreign meddling when those most marginalized among us fight back against their oppressors. To insinuate that Russia is somehow responsible for racism in a nation built upon the whip-scarred backs of enslaved Africans is both ludicrous and sad.

The Metro Atlanta Chapter of the DSA is proud to stand with Anoa and support her crucial work in both local and national activist movements.

The smear against her is grotesque but also transparent - the ruling classes will not let go of power easily. We’re grateful to women like Anoa who put themselves at risk to stand up to the 1% and we are grateful for the opportunity to support her in that fight.


Atlanta Hosts National DSA Leadership

  

We were recently honored to host a quarterly meeting of DSA’s National Political Committee (NPC), the folks we elected in August to guide the organization’s work between conventions, plus our awesome National Director Maria Svart. This gave MADSA a chance to get to know them better and show off our chapter, which was praised highly by our guests.

We provided solidarity housing and transportation (coordinated by Jeb Boone); held a very enjoyable meet-and-greet at the Georgia Beer Garden on April 13, thanks again to owners member Johnny Martinez and Brandon Ley (photo: Michael Cole; Adam Cardo and Maria Svart on stairway); and joined our guests for dinner at Noni’s restaurant April 14 (meals organized by Jeff Ratto). Jeb live-streamed and Scott Douglas, Speck Pratt, Jeff Ratto, and Matthew Wolfsen provided closed captioning, so that DSA members everywhere with an appetite for long meetings could observe the proceedings. Michael Lavender, Adam Cardo, Reid Jenkins and others helped with rides. It was all made possible by the hospitality of our coalition partner Atlanta Jobs With Justice, who offered us their meeting room at short notice.

The meeting covered lots of business items such as finances, but included discussions of gun control, labor and electoral issues from a wide range of viewpoints. Minutes will be posted on the new national announcements page. Photos: Left, by Reid Freeman Jenkins. Rear L to R, standing: Atlanta JwJ Director Shannan Reaze; Jeb Boone; seated: Scott Douglas. Top center: Maria Svart. Clockwise from Maria: Catherine Hoffman (Detroit), Theresa Alt (Ithaca NY), Chris Maisano (NYC), Ajmal Alami (YDSA co-chair), Christian Bowe (Central NJ), Zac Echola (Red River Valley, ND), Michelle Fisher (YDSA co-chair), R.L. Stephens (Houston), Delé Balogun (Chicago), Ravi Ahmad (NYC), Allie Cohen (Knoxville), Ella Mahoney (NYC), Frances Rozi (parliamentarian). Christine Riddiough (DC) is at right of Beer Garden photo. 

Member Matthew Wolfsen commented: “I had the opportunity to grab dinner with the visiting DSA’s NPC who oversee the entire organization’s direction. My thoughts were pretty simple. They are just good-hearted people. And that’s so refreshing and rare to see in a politically and nationally recognized organization.”

 


Weekend of Action

This demo/rally in Little Five Points, sponsored by the Georgia Coalition for Peace and Justice (MADSA is a member) and several other peace and justice groups was held April 13 in cooperation with the Coalition Against Foreign Military Bases as part of a national day of regional actions. Those who came were united in our opposition to all U.S. wars, and the use of our tax dollars to support the U.S. military machine. We want fundingfor human needs (here and abroad), not endless war. Sixteen MADSA members participated, possibly the largest contingent. Above, Lorraine Fontana holds up the Grandmothers for Peace banner, with Jim Skillman ("U.S. Tax Dollars") and Adrian Bernal (white shirt) close behind. Members Bernal (for School of the America Watch) and Reid Jenkins (for Veterans for Peace) were among the rally speakers (see photo after the flip).- Barbara Joye with thanks to Lorraine. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins.

For more, see this video by Artemis Productions, including an interview with a young University of Alabama YDSA comrade: ttps://youtu.be/OFlD4fZwwVg  

That same afternoon, a Rally for Black Lives took place in Midtown. Member Daniel Hanley sent the report published below.

  

 

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Marching for Black Lives at the Dogwood Festival

Multiple DSA members joined the Alliance for Black Lives on Saturday as this newly-formed coalition marched through Midtown and through the Piedmont Park Dogwood Festival. An opening rally at Midtown MARTA station referenced the ongoing campaigns for Anthony Hill and other targets of racist violence, as well as economic inequality, demands for fair housing in Atlanta, and the connections between capitalism and racist police brutality. The organizers proposed a diversity of tactics including nonviolent disruption and voting out incumbents. This action was also aimed to build momentum toward next weekend's Rally for Black Lives in Decatur, which will call for justice for Anthony Hill, a young black veteran murdered by police in 2015. The trial of former cop Robert Olsen begins soon, years after a lengthy community organizing and direct action campaign successfully demanding indictment.

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Building Our Organization: New Working Groups and More

March 30's membership meeting kicked off a very positive discussion of the best strategies for MADSA, with about 40 dues-paying members participating. While this is a small percentage of our total membership, it included most of the most active members and a group of new ones eager to get active - a good start. Led by officers Eric Robertson, Anat Fintzi and Adam Cardo, with help from scribe Scott Douglas (in photo), we divided into small groups for a lively and very productive SWOT exercise: brainstorming about our organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This led to a set of initial priorities, including improving internal communications, better ways to welcome and engage new members, and developing distinctive MADSA campaigns around local issues such as housing and public transit. Minutes will be posted soon. One important outcome: Several members took responsibility for heading up new working groups (in addition to the already operating groups on political education, LGBTQ issues and Medicare for All), so that people wanting to do more than just attend big meetings can get involved in their areas of interest.

The expanded list of working groups (still a work in progress; contact links will be added shortly):

#electoral - group for those interested in interacting w/ electoral races. Since groups will often cross-polinate on goals; they'll likely end up working w/ other working groups a lot (e.g. the #mc4a-interest working group)

#mc4a-interest - group interested in taking the message of the DSA's Medicaid for All campaign and applying that message in and around the metro atlanta area, through anything from educational initiatives to ranking/engaging politicians on their relation to MC4A

#onboarding - as new members continue to fill our ranks, this group will look to provide process/education/opportunities on how we can get new members up to speed w/ the larger organization as quickly and effectively as possible.

#digital_wg - working group that manages our technical resources and how these resources advance and connect the goals of MADSA

#education_wg - outside of just onboarding new members, this group looks into opportunities to educate the chapter and community at large on socialist theory, practice, and application.

#harassmentwg - working group that's helping codify MADSA's code of conduct such that we can provide spaces that make all feel welcome

#labor_wg - working group that's looking into opportunities for how to engage w/ labor in and around metro Atlanta

#internal_com - the 'working groups' working group, for lack of much of a better description. This group will help define the pre-existing channels of communication within MADSA, how the working groups fit into those channels, and what we'll need to have in place to ensure both transparency and inclusion in our communication.

#mutual-aid - discussing ideas where we can show solidarity with the chapter and community by raising ourselves through lifting others

#housing - discussing housing in Atlanta, opportunities to show solidarity with tenants, and all things development in the greater Atlanta area

#public-transportation - talks about MARTA, other public transport options, and initiatives we can take part in such to improve the sustainability and accessibility of transportation

#queer_wg_lgbtqqiaap - this group simultaneously works as a group for all lgbtqqiaap members to act as resources to each other as well as the larger community. This is important in building a queer socialist narrative, showing solidarity with those in the community, and recruiting in those communities.

 

 


Helping Say Goodbye to Anti-Immigrant Bill

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A group of our members joined the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Southerners on New Ground, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (ASAJ) and Project South at the Capitol to help oppose SB452, a "show-us-your-papers bill on steroids" that would further terrorize immigrant communities and worsen community-police relations by mandating that police collaborate with immigration authorities (ICE). HB452 would have also rolled back the hard-won efforts to abolish cash bond in Atlanta. Happily, the General Assembly  allowed the bill to die (for this year at least) by not passing it before midnight on Thursday, March 29 - "sine die," the final day of the legislative session. Above left: MADSA members (L to R) Matthew Wolfsen, Jordan French, khalid kamau, Erin Parks, Daniel Hanley and Amy Mei Willis (also with ASAJ) celebrate the victory. Above right: The coalition at the Capitol. Thanks to Daniel Hanley for this information. - Barbara Joye


Marching for Our Lives

    

MADSA members joined some 30-40,000 highly motivated students, parents, teachers and other supporters on the Atlanta March for Our Lives Saturday, March 24. We gave out all our buttons, flew the red DSA flag (thanks Josh) and proudly walked behind our banner while Daniel, on his bullhorn, led chants of "NRA and arms dealers, y'all make money off of massacres! Y'all ignore the students' voice, so we're taking to the streets to bring the noise - bring the noise, we have no choice!" as well as "Black lives matter" and "NRA, go away! Disarm the KKK! Take the cops' guns away! No more racist USA!". The students, including leaders from Chamblee H.S., Paideia and other Georgia schools as well as from Marjorie Douglas Parkland, were eloquent and inspiring, as was Rep. John Lewis. Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins and (center) Steve Eberhardt.


Supporting the H.S. Student Walkout

    

Several MADSA members turned out on a chilly morning to support the Grady H.S. students who walked out as part of the nation-wide protest demanding effective gun control legislation in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre. It seemed that the whole school, including teachers and the principal, participated in the demonstration, which they held in the Grady sports stadium. After a moment of silence a few students gave brief, eloquent speeches and then the whole group marched around the track a few times before returning to classes, well beyond the announced 17 minutes.  Barbara Joye, Reid Jenkins (the photographer), Evan Seed, Lisa Ashway, Lorraine Fontana, Cecelia Cantrell and Ann Mauney were there from MADSA; Cecelia, Lorraine, Ann and I are also members of Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace, which had brought many of the supporters.

N.B.: I just learned that a group of students told one of us as we left that they were refusing to return to class, protesting the takeover of their event by  the liberal Grady administration (which had persuaded most of the students not to go off-campus) and saying the purpose of the walkout was to disrupt and that's what they wanted to do! Does anyone know what happened after that?  - Barbara Joye


WRFG Honors MADSA Member Harlon Joye

 

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Community radio station WRFG (89.3FM) honored MADSA member Harlon Joye (R) at its 3rd annual Americana in the Park celebration, March 4 (award presented by Frank Hamilton, L). Joye is a former union staffer, sociologist, civil rights activist, WRFG founder and the station's first manager. His program "Fox's Minstrel Show" airs Sundays 7-10pm.


Solidarity With West Virginia Strikers

Above, MADSA sent this message of solidarity, joining DSA chapters across the country. (Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins.)

THEY WON! 5% raise for all W VA state employees! But -- state legislators are threatening to pay for the increase by cutting Medicaid and other necessary programs instead of various measures urged by the teachers which would not impact working and poor people.

See this excellent statement from the steering committee of national DSA's Labor Commission.  Also, see this Jacobin post for an interview with two teachers about the strike settlement.

DSA National Director Maria Svart had sent a message urging members to take a number of actions to support the strikers, which many of us did. She added: The West Virginia strike is inspiring teachers across the country to stand up for better conditions in schools.  Are you a K-12 teacher? Sign up for the National DSA Teacher Network here.






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