Good – you should be.
Of the many, many things that have happened this week that should be making you royally pissed and ready to take action for change, one of the most egregious took place Monday night in Washington, DC, when TrumPutin and his lackey Bill Barr ordered federal law enforcement officers to attack peaceful protestors, who were in front of the White House exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly, all because he wanted to intentionally cause chaos so he could get the background images he wanted for his bizarre and creepy photo op outside St. John’s Episcopal Church and provide the flimsiest of excuses to behave like the tin-pot dictator he wants to be, calling out the National Guard and the US military on the streets of an American city, taking up arms against American citizens.
Hillary Clinton called it, back in 2016: DEPLORABLE.
Why did he do this?
These actions went directly against the expressed wishes of local elected officials and the good practices that are known by the local police force. The Washington, DC, metropolitan police are far from perfect – their responses have sometimes been flawed even in the midst of the current uprisings – but if there is one thing DC’s police force knows how to do, it’s how to manage protests so that protestors can exercise their constitutional rights while also keeping the protestors, the community, and the police force safe. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go to DC every year to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances, and those cops know how to manage them, just like the New Orleans police force knows how to manage large crowds of drunk partiers.
Again, DC’s police force is far from perfect – they were under a DoJ Consent Decree from 2002-2008 for excessive use of force against black residents – but they have the experience and protocols to handle large scale, tense protests. Those were developed over years when the force was led by Charles Ramsey, a black man, and Cathy Lanier, a white woman. And yes, now that the current police chief is a white man, locals I know report backsliding. (For what it’s worth, if you want a police force that prioritizes community relations and operates under a Protector ethos rather than a Warrior ethos, the data is clear: hire a black man or a woman of any color as your chief and a significant percentage of your overall force.)
What does successfully managing a protest look like? Focusing on de-escalation tactics and the absolute priority of people over property.
De-escalation tactics include things like: officers in their usual uniforms, with their agency, name, and badge number clearly displayed, and their firearms stowed. Riot gear on-site but not on the officers. Setting up and maintaining clear and direct lines of communication with protest organizers. Staying calm and not responding, even when the protesters shout rude things at you. Always remembering that people’s lives are more important than some broken windows.
(Oh: and from people I know on the ground? That “American carnage” TrumPutin is always slavering over? Not, for the most part, actually happening. Yes, some windows were broken and some shops were looted the first two nights. And while I don’t think anyone is going to shed tears over broken windows at a Starbucks (or maybe they will – the first Deaf-primary Starbucks in the world was hit Sunday night, much to the consternation of the shop’s neighbors), local and/or black-owned businesses have been hit, too, with black and white community members showing up almost immediately to help clean up, board up broken windows, and get the stores ready to re-open. It’s important to note that eyewitness reports – with video to back it up – are pointing out that much of the vandalism and looting is young white men nowhere near any ongoing protest activity taking advantage of the situation to go wild. In fact, peaceful protesters in DC have actually helped the local police stop and detain vandals who are using this as an excuse to start shit. According to my local contacts, this is nowhere near 1968.)
Instead, we have awful images of military vehicles on the streets of DC, a heavy National Guard presence at the Lincoln Memorial, non-local law enforcement personnel with their agencies and even their names and badge numbers obscured on the streets, and TrumPutin finally getting his wall, only it’s around The People’s House, where he cowers in the basement bunker like the coward he is.
How could TrumPutin get away with this?
After all, he couldn’t force the New York National Guard to do jackshit in response to widespread looting in NYC. (The looting in DC was always sporadic and appears to have been over for several days.)
He couldn’t deploy the military to the streets of Omaha, even though a peaceful protestor was killed by police there. (No protestors have been killed in DC.)
He couldn’t threaten to instigate federalizing the police force in Louisville, despite the fact that the police there shot a local black business owner and community activist who was well known for FEEDING COPS FOR FREE. (No business owners have been killed in DC.)
He can do this because 706,000 of our fellow Americans who live in Washington, DC, are second-class citizens who lack equal representation.
US citizens who are residents of the District of Columbia pay taxes and yet have no Senators or Representatives in Congress, and in fact, have limited control even over local affairs.
I seem to recall that a bunch of Bostonians dumped a bunch of tea into the harbor nearly 250 years ago and started a revolution over precisely this issue.
- It currently has a larger population than Wyoming or Vermont and is closing in on Alaska and North Dakota, all of which have representation in Congress.
- DC residents pay in more in total dollars in federal taxes than 22 other states and territories, and they pay the most in per-capita federal taxes in the US (and not by a little).
- More than 192,000 DC citizens have served our country in branches of the armed forces.
- Although DC won limited local control through the Home Rule Act of 1973, Congress and the President retain the right to prevent city officials from spending local tax dollars as the residents who elected them want those dollars spent.
Does that all seem unfair – even un-American – to you? DC residents are the only US citizens who bear the full responsibilities of citizenship, including taxation and Selective Service registration, without sharing in the full rights and privileges of citizenship.
You can help right this wrong.
In 2016, 86% of DC residents responded in favor of a statehood ballot initiative. That, in turn, led to the creation of HR 51, the Washington, DC Admission Act, legislation that was introduced at the beginning of the current (116th) Congress.
The Act would shrink the federal enclave down to the Capitol building, the White House, and the monumental core, and convert the rest of what is currently DC – where all the people live – into Douglass Commonwealth (named for favorite son Frederick Douglass, of course) with one Representative and two Senators to speak for the interests of those 706,000 Americans in our federal legislature, just like every other citizen has a right to. See what that would look like here.
What can you do?
Well, right now, virtually the entire House caucus is on not just in favor of HR 51, but as co-sponsors. And with a Democratic majority in the House, that’s the good news.
The bad news is:, Democratic Senators in the following states are NOT supporters of the companion Senate bill (S 631):
- Rhode Island
Do you live there, or have friends or family who do? Call, text, email, or write your Senator(s) and ask her/him to support equal representation for the citizens of Washington, DC. Neighbors United has all their deets and a sample script you can use.
For more information and resources on #DCStatehood and what needs to be done to secure equal representation and equal rights for the more than 700,000 of our fellow citizens to whom they are currently denied, see:
- DC Vote
- Free DC
- Neighbors United for DC Statehood
- 51 for 51 (specifically organized to address the question of: Does DC Statehood require amending the Constitution? Short answer: no.)
All of them have facts and resources about the DC Statehood movement, and specific calls to action you can take TODAY in support of equal rights, long denied, for your fellow citizens.
Where are the Republicans?
Funny you should ask.
House Republicans raised objections ranging from “intent of the founders” to “but where will my staff park?” (Yes, really. Kentucky is not sending us their best.)
Thing is, TrumPutin recently said the quiet part out loud, as he tends to do:
“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told the New York Post this week. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”
OK, so first of all, numbnuts, DC would get ONE Representative. That’s determined by population size, not that I would expect you to know that.
Secondly, it’s been a few years, but I don’t recall anything in The Federalist Papers about representation only accruing to those who agree to vote the “right” way.
Fun fact: when DC was first designated as the new capital city in 1800, residents had representation. If you’re wondering if it was stripped because of DC’s large free black population (while slavery was still legal) and never restored specifically for reasons of systemic white supremacy and ongoing institutionalized racial discrimination (DC was majority black for a long time – P-Funk’s funktacular tune Chocolate City is about DC – and is still plurality black): YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.
The full story is too long to go into here, but if you want to learn it, check out Derek Musgrove and Chris Asch’s outstanding Chocolate City: A History of Race & Democracy in Our Nation’s Capital. (Buy it online from local DC bookseller Politics & Prose here.)
Image from Neighbors United for DC Statehood.
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