Still Fighting to Remove Decatur's Confederate Monument

  

MADSA joined others in yet another rally against the infamous "Lost Cause" monument in Decatur Square on Saturday, May 5. Member Daniel Hanley described the scene: "Liberation Lawyer Mawuli Davis, Beacon Hill Branch - NAACP, and Hate Free Decatur give ample credit to the young people and students leading the movement against symbols of white supremacy as well as institutional racism. Meanwhile, neoconfederate slavery enthusiasts heckle the youth calling for justice." At DSA's national convention, the Southern Caucus endorsed a "Tear Them Down" campaign. Photos: Daniel Hanley

A press release from Hate Free Decatur explained: 

The DeKalb County commission, which owns the monument, voted to remove this symbol of white supremacy on January 23 but has not yet identified a new location for the monument. According to Mawuli Davis, President of the Beacon Hill NAACP Organizing Committee, "The refusal of other locations to take on this monument shows how successful educational outreach has been in spreading the true story of this white supremacist monument."

Coalition members have learned that the DeKalb County Commission will consider a proposal on Tuesday, May 8 to move the monument to another part of the square. Says Sara Patenaude, historian and co-founder of Hate Free Decatur, “the location of the monument on the courthouse square is just as much an expression of white supremacy as the words engraved on it.” . . .

The work to relocate the DeKalb confederate monument began last August, after the murder of Heather Heyer by white supremacists protesting the removal of a confederate monument in Charlottesville, VA. DeKalb activists gathered nearly 3,000 signatures calling for the removal of the Decatur monument, held a well-attended march in September 2017, and convened a community history panel in October 2017. The Decatur City Commission, which maintains the square where the monument is located, has also passed a resolution calling for its removal.

The DeKalb monument was erected in 1908, the same year Georgia passed a constitutional amendment denying black men the right to vote, and just two years after the white supremacist Atlanta race riots. A state law passed in 2001 updated the Georgia state flag from using the confederate battle flag to the current confederate “stars and bars” layout. This same law prevents the destruction of confederate memorials but allows for their relocation. The coalition supports Commissioner Mereda Davis-Johnson’s call for the creation of a task force to identify alternative county-owned locations for the monument. The coalition and community reject any plans to keep the monument on any portion of the Decatur Square.


Meeting and Acting for Economic Justice

MADSA members (some returning, some new) met at CWA Local 3204 for our monthly membership meeting this past Sunday (4/29). We heard reports from the membership and our coalition partners, then broke up into working groups to organize actions and events.

Shannan Reaze, director of Atlanta Jobs with Justice, distributed their annual Justice Catalog for the upcoming primary election (early voting on Mayday!), and announced several upcoming events, including the DeKalb Bus Drivers’ Campaign and the BCTGM bakery union’s efforts to save Atlanta’s Nilla Wafer factory from closure.

Photo: MADSA Chair Adam Cardo joined Atlanta Jobs with Justice's May Day effort to highlight workers's economic issues during early voting for the Georgia primaries. If you still don’t know who all is running and what all is on the primary ballot go on over to www.votewithjustice.org or catch us in these streets talking to working people. -  Editor

We also proposed amendments to our bylaws for debate and voting at the next meeting. We’ll be adding the current bylaws and proposed amendments to the website shortly for everyone’s consideration.

We discussed several other matters, including a new reading group run by the Atlanta Institute for Social Research; reports from the recent anti-fascist action at Newnan, GA (scroll down for story); and the establishment of our chapter archive at Emory University. We then broke up into working groups and planned new actions and events, open to all, which will be forthcoming on this website and our various social media platforms.

-- Scott Douglas

 


Confronting Nazis in Newnan

As our member Eric Robertson said, “Big ups to the people of Newnan, Coweta County and allies from metro Atlanta for standing together against hate and fascism today. Encouraged by the energy and unity of locals who mobilized.”

    

An estimated 25-35 members of the National Socialist Movement and the white supremacist  group League of the South demonstrated in Newnan on Saturday, April 21, partly in commemoration of Hitler’s birthday the previous day, 4/20. (top and above left left: Some of the anti-Nazi protesters. Right: NSM marches to the rally site.) Hundreds of people from across the region assembled to protest, including many Newnan residents, surrounded by hundreds of police and herded through checkpoints.

According to Gloria Tatum of Atlanta Progressive News, "ten counter-demonstrators were arrested on various charges: three on misdemeanor charges of wearing masks, one charge of pedestrian on highway, three charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, one misdemeanor obstruction of officers, and two charges for felony obstruction of officers." To help pay their bond and other legal expenses, donate here The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that NO Nazis were arrested. 

MADSA activist Daniel Hanley was arrested but is now free. The police saw him speaking on a bullhorn, dragged him off the sidewalk, threw him to the ground and charged him with obstructing traffic! SEE HIS STORY AND PHOTO BELOW THE FLIP. Thanks to all who contributed to the bond fund.

Matthew Wolfsen tweeted during the action: “The police have decided to watch the counter protesters. None of the cops are watching the Nazis. . . ." And later: “I must say: the entire time I was there, I was more afraid of the police than the Nazis.” Police pointed assault-type weapons at the crowd, as numerous photos and videos on FB show.

After the rally, the Nazis held a "lighting" in West Georgia, featuring flaming swastikas. For photos of that bizarre scene, click here. 

Below left, Newnan residents expressed their opposition to the Nazis creatively throughout the town. Below right: This signal (and others) mysteriously appeared Friday night. S

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Black Lives Matter in Decatur

The Alliance for Black Lives and the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice joined forces to organize a Black Lives Matter rally and march dedicated to Anthony Hill, a young Black man and veteran who was killed by a police officer three years ago, whose killer was to start pre-trial procedures this Monday in the nearby Dekalb County Courthouse. The day before, we found out the start of the trial has been postponed to Monday, May 21...when there WILL be a vigil outside and a pack-the-courtroom action. The rally was always intended to remember many more Black lives that have been lost at the hands of racist, fearful and trigger-happy police - both in Georgia and nationwide. The group gathered in downtown Decatur across from Dekalb County's governmental offices, held a rally there, marched around downtown Decatur and ended at the Dekalb County Courthouse for another rally. - Lorraine Fontana. Photo: MADSA members (L to R) Lisa Ashway, Evan Seeds and Erin Parks joined the action.

 

 


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


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