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Charlottesville and It’s Aftermath: D.C. Alternative News Round Up

Grassroots DC - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 10:41

A quick search revealed no reports from local television news of last weeks events in Charlottesville or the solidarity marches that followed.  Fortunately, the District also has reporters who routinely imbed with the activists and organizers at these events.  Here is reporting from two of them.  

One Dead After Car Plows into Anti-Racist March in Charlottesville

Written by John Zanga
DC Media Group

Charlottesville, Va. — Anti-fascist and anti-racist counterprotestors confronted a planned white nationalist gathering in downtown Charlottesville on Saturday. Multiple angry clashes between groups in the morning resulted in many injuries.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and Virginia State Police moved in to end the protest. The Virginia National Guard was deployed and began patrolling Charlottesville.

But, in the early afternoon, a silver Challenger driving at high speed plowed through a march of anti-racist counterprotestors forming on 4th Street, tossing several people into the air like rag dolls before ramming into the rear end of another car. It appeared the car was driven deliberately into the crowd, then reversed and sped backwards.

One person was killed and 19 people were injured.

Charter said that moments after the car backed up, medics were on the scene helping the inured. He was shaken up by the incident.

As many as 30 right-wing groups, led by Alt-Right personality Richard Spencer and accompanied by known supremacist David Duke, rallied at Emancipation Park over city plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The clashes erupted almost from the start of the permitted protests, which began at 10 a.m. Elements from the KKK, Neo-Nazis and the Alt-Right, were met at every turn by about 1,000 counterprotesters.

Mace and tear gas was sprayed with bottles, sticks and smoke grenades thrown by White Nationalists toward Antifa. Antifa returned volleys as White Nationalists waded into the Antifa to attack them with sticks and smoke grenades.

Police formed lines between two rows of barricades, separating Nationalists from counterprotesters. But for an unknown reason police pulled back as more Nationalists arrived, marching in a column down Market Street to confront Antifa. It was at this point that the confrontations saw their most bloody moments.

White supremacists have descended on  Charlottesville since City Council voted to take down a statue of General Lee in an effort to remove Southern Heritage symbols of the Civil War. On Friday night, Neo-Nazis carried torches through the Grounds of the University of Virginia, chanting Nazi Germany slogan “Blood and Soil.” They attacked, beat and maced anti-racist protestors. Conflict also broke out when anti-fascists confronted White Nationalists at the Lee statue.

Update:  A police helicopter which had been monitoring the protests crashed following the dispersal.  Initial reports are that two died in the crash.


DC Remembers Charlottesville with march from WWII Memorial to Confederate statue by MPD

written by Luke
DC Independent Media Center

On the 13th of August, DC area residents protested the Nazi outrages in Charlottesville, VA. What began as a medium size march from the WWII Veterans Memorial to the White House mushroomed into a huge march from the White House past Trump Hotel to the Albert Pike (Confederate) statue by MPD. https://archive.org/details/DCCharlottesville8132017540p

Yes, DC has it’s very own statue commemorating a man who loved slavery and the Confederacy so much he moved there from the north to become a Confederate general. A similar statue of Robert E Lee in Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, VA has sparked a controversy over its pending removal blocked by a court. This has been the excuse for ever-larger KKK and Nazis rallies there that culminated in the death of one counterprotester and serious injuries to 19 more on August 12, 2017.

One demand of the protesters here in DC is that a staute commemorating slavery and murder be removed. This should be done before it becomes a magnet for neo-Nazi torchlight parades and terrorist attacks. Oddly, two videographers were nearly run down by a car driving on the sidewalk near 7th st about a half hour after this DC protest ended, but preliminary indications are this incident was only a “normal” drunk driver rather than another terrorist attack.

The deliberate and deadly, ISIS-style vehicle attack on anti-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville by comparison cannot be called anything other than terrorism and murder. All that hate came from somewhere. There seemed to be a consensus in the streets that it comes right from the top. The crowds in DC responded to Trump Hotel with massive boos and chants of “Shame shame shame,” holding Trump himself responsible for the river of hate that has inundated the US since he began his campaign.

In nearby Alexandria, VA, protesters marched on the home of notorious (and notably punched) neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer. The IWW showed up there with their flags and remembering Heather Heyer, though DC IWW reports that (contrary to earlier rumors) she was not an IWW member. Richard Spencer hid on his roof, with just his cellphone camera peeking over the side.

Video of the massive DC marches for Charlottesville Includes bonus footage from Charlottesville providing 1 min synopsis(0:31 to 1.38)


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Lobbying on Behalf of District Children and Youth

Grassroots DC - Thu, 05/04/2017 - 20:04

Beyond voting or joining a well publicized march or rally, many citizens are unsure how to become politically engaged.  One of the most effective ways to have an impact on public policy is to tell your local representatives what you want.  Lobbying is not just for professionals paid by corporate interest groups.  In fact, government and the institutions they regulate are far more fair, just and equitable when regular citizens like you and me show up at their office and insist that they listen to what we have to say.

With that in mind, the DC Alliance for Youth Advocates (DCAYA) will meet with Councilmembers and staff to advocate for a more youth-friendly District budget for FY2018 at the Wilson Building on Thursday, May 11.  According to the DCAYA, the District’s proposed FY2018 budget leaves significant funding gaps for a number of key programs that could better address the needs of  children and youth.

Council markup on the mayor’s proposed budget is scheduled for May 16-18, so May 11 is a critical time to reach out to members and remind them of the importance of our budget asks for DC’s youth, which include:

  • Transportation: $2 million to extend transportation subsidies to adult and alternative learners through the School Transit Subsidy Program
  • Youth Homelessness: Up to $3.3 million more to fully fund the Year One objectives of the Comprehensive Plan to End Youth Homelessness
  • Expanded Learning: An additional $5.1 million to fund the new Office of Out-of-School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes and better meet the need for quality youth development programming
  • Youth Workforce Development: A comprehensive implementation plan for coordinating and funding youth workforce development initiatives to build on the progress of DC’s WIOA State Plan
  • Per-Pupil Funding: A 3.5% increase in per-pupil funding in the FY18 budget to bring DCPS closer to an adequate standard for education funding next school year
  • Proposed Tax Cuts: Ensure revenue is available to fund these and other critical priorities by delaying the $40 million in estate tax and business tax cuts slated for 2018

For more information, contact Jamie Kamlet Fragale, Director of Advocacy and Communications for Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School, or CLICK HERE.


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D.C. Seeks to Improve Its Comprehensive Plan

Grassroots DC - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 19:49

Cross-Posted from Street Sense
by Ashley Clarke

The D.C. Office of Planning is amending the Comprehensive Plan, a long-standing document that outlines priorities for D.C.’s future growth and change. In a statement from the Office of Planning, Director Eric Shaw encouraged residents to read the Comprehensive Plan and make suggestions for changes.

“‘Planning an Inclusive City’ is the guiding vision for the DC Comprehensive Plan. An inclusive city is one where every member of the community feels welcome wherever they are in the city, and where everyone has a fair and equitable opportunity to live a healthy, successful and fulfilling life,” Edward Geifer, associate director of the Office of Planning, wrote in an email to Street Sense.

A heterogeneous coalition was born out of the Office of Planning’s call to the public.  Community organizations, for-profit and nonprofit developers, faith groups, tenant advocates and other local organizations have formed a loose coalition of interested parties to identify priorities for creating more affordable housing and community support for under-resourced communities in D.C.  The coalition met over several months to reach an agreement on a series of priorities that are listed on their website at www.DCHousingpriorities.org.

According to the 2016 annual census done by the D.C. Council on Homelessness,  8,350 people experience homelessness on any given night in the city.  Coalition members want to see growth in the city but also want the Office of Planning to know that growth does not mean pushing marginalized people further to the margins.

“It is possible to build new housing, including a good measure of affordable housing, and grow the District’s tax base in a way that makes business sense and advances the public good. The result can be a combination of new housing and amenities for residents and increased revenue for the city so it can continue to enhance quality of life,” said Aakash Thakkar in the a news release. Thakkar is the senior vice president of EYA, a real estate development firm that is part of the coalition.

Coalition  members believe that more affordable housing and targeted support for D.C. communities should be in the Comprehensive Plan.  Philip Stump-Kennedy told Street Sense that Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) joined the coalition in hopes of using the Office of Planning as a tool for their mission. Stump-Kennedy is the regional tenant organizing manager at LEDC. He said he is tasked with the preservation of affordable housing in D.C, which is one of the priorities the coalition wants addressed. He referred to the lack of affordable housing in D.C. and said it is important that subsidized housing like Section 8 housing is maintained in the District.

Stump-Kennedy also believes rent control is an important part of affordable housing preservation. The rest of the coalition agrees and lists the protection of tenants as a priority. Stump-Kennedy said that the LEDC focuses on organizing tenants, connecting them with attorneys and other tenant associations. Stump-Kennedy said there is strength in numbers and organization.

“We need policies that preserve the affordable housing we already have as the District develops. It’s clear the city needs more units to meet the demand of the people coming here, but we also need strategies to protect tenants who are struggling to stay in the city. Those goals don’t have to be in conflict,” said Rob Wohl, a tenant organizer for the LEDC, in a news release.

The coalition members believe that the development of affordable housing and equitable economics requires the participation of all D.C. communities in order to move toward a solution. A full list of organizations and businesses in support of the D.C. housing priorities can be found on their webpage.

Residents can get involved by signing up for updates at plandc.dc.gov and submitting proposed amendments during the open call period for amendments.

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Inauguration Day Blues

Grassroots DC - Wed, 02/01/2017 - 18:47

It seems like it’s been years since January 20, 2017.  A lot of people, many of them devout moderates, said that we should give Donald Trump a chance.  He’s not really going to do the things he says he’s going to do.  He’s not a true conservative.  He’s just saying those things to get elected.  Others preferred to heed the words of Maya Angelou:  “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.”

Candidate Trump showed us who he was throughout the campaign.  President Trump didn’t hesitate to tell us how he feels about his constituents during his inaugural address:

“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”

Me, my daughter Joshua and her friend Nicole took a camera to the inauguration, but alas we missed the speech.   Although we tried at several locations, we never made it past security.  In what seemed like symbolism, we found anti-Trump protestors north of the mall, all of them in Maya Angelou’s camp.  South of the mall, we found many more pro-Trump attendees, also trying to get through security.  There were also a number of protesters on the south side of the mall whose motivations I still don’t understand. The video is below:

Within hours of the inauguration that so many of us missed, the pages on LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change, and health care were removed from the “issues” section of the official White House website.  Like icing on a mostly Styrofoam replica of Obama’s real inauguration cake, the video below popped up on my daughter’s twitter feed as we were making our way home.

Amazing. This brave woman stood against anti-Muslim protesters at the Islamic Center in Washington D.C. That’s a true ally. #Inauguration pic.twitter.com/bp2DycFL9m

— sarah amy harvard (@amyharvard_) January 20, 2017

I fear that the anti-Trump enthusiasm will wane as the long days of the Trump Administration stretch into weeks, months and years.   On the whole, I’d have to say that January 20, 2017, was not a good day.

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DCMJ Inauguration Day Protest

Grassroots DC - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 20:50

What will the Trump Presidency mean to the District of Columbia?  With its status as a federal district, all laws passed by the City Council are subject to Congressional approval. Legislation like needle exchange programs and gun control have been held up and denied all together by Congress.  We can blame the conservative members of the House of Representatives for spear-heading these efforts but even a majority Democratic House and Senate have failed to uphold the laws that District residents and their representatives have passed when they cross the sensibilities of the Right.

With rumors that the Trump Administration plan to disrupt the District’s pro-choice and anti-gun legislation as well as the relatively new Death with Dignity Act, what can the many residents in favor of the legalization of Marijuana expect?

Local marijuana advocacy group DCMJ tried to get ahead of the issue with a pro-marijuana demonstration.  On the morning of the inauguration, DCMJ planned to distribute 4,200 joints.  This video below, shot by Joshua Rose Schmidt, shows how things went.

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Breaking: Lockdown at Spectra AIM Construction Site at Hudson River Crossing

DC Media Group - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 21:59
Twelve people arrested blocking the controversial gas pipeline slated to pass near nuclear power plant

Update December 10

All twelve activists who stopped work at a Spectra AIM pipeline construction site on Thursday evening were released on bail early Saturday morning. They will appear in court on Monday, December 12 in Cortlandt Manor, NY on charges of trespassing and resisting arrest.

Update December 9, 6:30am

The twelve people arrested at the Verplanck, NY Spectra construction site were arraigned overnight in Cortlandt, NY. The District Attorney asked for $50,000 bail each.

Defendants’ attorney got bail reduced, according to Kim Fraczek of Sane Energy Project, who posted the following on Facebook:

Dave Dorfman, our attorney, met with Judge McCarthy in the wee hours, and got the judge to reduce bail from $50,000 to $5,000 for 11 of them and $1,500 for one of them. They have been sent to Valhalla Correctional Facility at 10 Woods Rd. in Valhalla, NY.

The individual with bail reduced to $1,500 is a New York resident, while the other 11 are from out of state. All have prior experience protesting fossil fuel infrastructure, according to Fraczek.

To assist with $500 bond for the eleven out-of-state arrestees, you can donate to Mississippi Stand.

To assist with $150 bond for the New York resident, you can donate to ResistSpectra.

Twelve people were arrested at the Spectra Energy construction site late Thursday evening./Screenshot, Resist Spectra live stream

Update, 11:30pm

Twelve people were arrested at a construction site in Verplanck, NY where Spectra Energy is “pulling pipe” under the Hudson River to complete its AIM pipeline project.

The twelve “stormed inside” the site, according to Kim Fraczek, director of Sane Energy Project. Six of the activists then locked themselves to construction equipment, disrupting nighttime work on the pipeline.

Supporters off the property cheered as police pulled out with the twelve arrestees.

Supporters gathered outside the construction site./Screenshot, Resist Spectra live stream

December 8, 10pm:

Six activists have locked themselves to equipment at a Spectra construction site where the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline project crosses the Hudson River. At about 8:30pm, activists swarmed the site where Spectra is now pulling pipeline under the river, according to Kim Fraczek of Sane Energy Project. Spectra security, state police and local police officers are on the scene.

Objections to the Spectra AIM gas pipeline have largely focused on its route, which passes only 105 feet from the Indian Point Energy Center. The river crossing in Verplanck, NY which the activists have locked down is less than a mile from the nuclear power plant.

The aging nuclear power plant has a long history of emergency shutdowns and leakage into the Hudson River. People opposing the project contend that with the additional of a 42″ diameter gas pipeline, an accident is likely and would have catastrophic consequences.

Spectra AIM was supposed to go into service on November 1, transporting fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New England, but there were difficulties with test drilling under the Hudson River over the summer caused delays. Clay in the river bed collapsed during test drilling, and a drill bit broke and was lost in the river. The drill method is the controversial Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) technique. Over project opponents objections, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave permission for the company to continue with the project.

In October, construction was also delayed when four activists crawled into pipeline intended to be pulled under the Hudson River and occupied it for 16 hours.

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‘People’s Hearing’ Convened to Reform FERC

DC Media Group - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 19:22

Panel of ‘judges’ hears testimony from residents opposed to FERC’s close relationship with the natural gas industry./Photo by Mark Hand

Described as the first-ever “People’s Hearing” challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), more than 60 speakers presented testimony on why they believe the agency systematically fails to listen to the concerns of the general public.

A panel of “judges,” fashioned similar to the monthly FERC open meetings, presided over the Dec. 2 hearing, held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Unlike the real FERC meetings, speakers did not run the risk of getting escorted out by security guards for standing up and expressing dissent with the agency’s decisions.

Many speakers at the standing room-only event described FERC as a “rubber stamp” machine. They urged Congress to grant FERC more leeway to reject a company’s application if the agency determines the project would harm local communities and the environment. Relying on “the market” to decide whether a project should be approved is a flawed regulatory practice that should be replaced by a system that examines the actual need for the infrastructure and whether other options exist to meet the energy needs of the public, speakers said.

The roster of speakers served to illustrate the impressive scope of infrastructure build-out — from pipelines to compressor stations to liquefied natural gas export terminals — occurring in the eastern U.S. Speakers expressed frustration with how FERC appears to operate as an industry partner rather than an honest broker in natural gas infrastructure proceedings.

Russell Chisholm of the group Preserve Giles County contended that the voices of local residents were “stripped” from the public scoping meetings held for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), a project proposed by EQT Midstream Partners LP and four corporate partners. According to Chisholm, FERC project manager Paul Friedman facilitated two public scoping meetings in southwestern Virginia: one in May 2015 and the other in November 2016.

“In both sessions, there was a common pattern in Friedman’s behavior of circumventing and converting so-called public hearings for the purpose of collecting citizens concerns and information into a systematic effort by Friedman to manipulate public opinion, dissuade opposition to the MVP and cloud any public record of that opposition,” said Chisholm, a U.S. Army veteran, who told the audience he planned to head to North Dakota after the public hearing to join other veterans in a show of solidarity with Native Americans opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

Activists Seek to Fix ‘Corrupt’ Agency

The hearing’s organizers — Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Berks Gas Truth, Food & Water Watch, Clean Water Action, Beyond Extreme Energy, EarthWorks and Catskill Mountainkeeper — said they support a request signed by more than 180 organizations calling on Congress to reform the Natural Gas Act and investigate how FERC reviews natural gas infrastructure projects.

Throughout its nearly 40-year history, FERC has generally kept a low profile. With the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the start of the shale gas boom, though, FERC’s stature grew as residents started doing their homework on how natural gas projects were getting proposed and approved in their communities. For the past two years, activists have attended every monthly FERC meeting to protest the way the agency reviews natural gas infrastructure applications.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other groups hold a “people’s hearing” in Washington, DC, to discuss FERC’s review and approval process./Photo by Mark Hand

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, FERC became the lead agency for purposes of complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). With this newly assumed power, FERC has refused to heed the advice of experts at other federal agencies, said David Sligh, conservation director for Wild Virginia, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the state’s national forests. The group opposes the MVP and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a natural gas project proposed by Dominion Resources.

FERC often ignores or downplays the importance of concerns raised by the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said Sligh. Wild Virginia reviewed 18 cases across the U.S. in which various EPA regional offices commented on a FERC draft environmental impact statement (EIS). In every case, Sligh said, the EPA deemed the information in the draft EIS to be “insufficient,” whether it was a flawed analyses of route alternatives and cumulative impacts, a failure to address long-term damages to waterbodies and mature forests, or a refusal to follow NEPA regulations in regard to needs analyses, greenhouse gases and environmental justice.

“FERC must not have the option of ignoring the opinions and judgments of environmental agencies that have greater expertise and credibility. Congress must see to it,” Sligh said.

Megan Holleran, who has been fighting construction of Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC’s natural gas pipeline on her family’s property in Susquehanna County, Pa., said the people’s hearing successfully provided attendees with a look at the many areas of FERC’s regulatory review process that need to be fixed.

“Even the people who are trying to work within the system are finding that it is broken. There is a sense from people outside of the activism community that we ignore the official process and then just stand out there and tie ourselves to a tree,” Holleran said in an interview. “The people’s hearing is a really good way to send out the message that everyone does try to follow the official process. The reason we end up tied to a tree is because the official process is corrupt.”

Belinda Blazic, a New Jersey resident fighting Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line’s proposed Garden State Expansion Project, questioned why FERC lets pipeline companies build their projects in segments, a common complaint heard at the hearing. Pipeline segmentation, according to Blazic, makes it easier for companies to overcome regulatory requirements at both the federal and state levels. “The impacts of these projects in our communities raise serious questions of FERC’s review process. Congressional investigation and legislative remedy are needed,” she said. “The ‘R’ in FERC stands for ‘Regulatory’ not ‘rubber stamp.’”

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Stops Dakota Access Pipeline—For Now

DC Media Group - Sun, 12/04/2016 - 19:08

At a march in solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline protesters in Washington, DC/Photo by Ted Majdosz

Against all odds, the Standing Rock Sioux have prevailed in stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline at Lake Oahe. On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied–for the time being–the easement which would have given Energy Transfer Partners permission to build the final segment of the project under the Missouri River.

Occupants of the Oceti Sakowin camp erupted in joy and celebration at the announcement.

“We will not fight tonight, we will dance,” said Rami Bald Eagle, Cheyenne River Lakota Tribal Leader, when he received the news.

The Standing Rock Sioux released a statement of thanks to Water Protectors and allies who had taken part in the standoff: “Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes. We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”

Jo-Ellen Darcy, Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, issued the announcement. “Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” she said. The ACE will explore “alternatives” to the pipeline crossing.

The ACE statement came as thousands of U.S. veterans had been arriving by car all day Sunday, adding to the existing thousands already at four camps who have opposed the project since April.

The group of at least 2,000 veterans had mobilized in response to a violent attack on Water Protectors by Morton County police on November 20. They came to form a buffer between Morton County police and Water Protectors. Over 300 had been injured, including shootings with rubber bullets and water cannons. On that night, over 26 were shot with projectiles thought to be rubber bullets. An activist lost use of her arm from what is thought to be a concussion grenade.

Hundreds of cars with veterans stream into Oceti Sakowin camp/Photo by Dennis Trainor

The Army Corps decision is not final but will probably lead to an analysis for a formal Environment Impact Statement, long sought by the tribes, which could take months to complete.

It’s unclear how the transition to the Trump administration will ultimately affect the Dakota Access Pipeline’s route.

“We don’t know what the next administration is going to do, but at least if we get an Environmental Impact Statement process in place that will delay this for months,” Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a video posted on Facebook.

Gail Small, a Native American Studies professor at Montana State University, told Inforum that presidential power is constrained by federal agencies such the Army Corps, which have broad discretion in making regulatory decisions such as easements.

Energy Transfer Partners can also appeal the decision. While any scenario will push the pipeline’s in-service date long past January 1, whether the pipeline will be re-routed, or stopped entirely, is up in the air.

Goldtooth thanked the Water Protectors and allies for their hard work fighting the Dakota Access project and asked them to continue supporting those everywhere trying to keep fossil fuels in the ground. “Thank you so much for this moment,” he said.

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Anti-DAPL Protesters March to Elaine Chao’s Capitol Hill House

DC Media Group - Sun, 12/04/2016 - 12:40

Protesters gather outside the Capitol Hill home of Elaine Chao/Photo by Collin Rees

Dozens of people marched from Columbus Circle to the Capitol Hill house of Elaine Chao, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation and a board member of Wells Fargo & Co., an investor in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Dec. 3 action was organized by the Washington, DC, chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) to demonstrate solidarity with Native Americans who have been fighting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline since last spring. As part of the months-long anti-DAPL campaign, activists have urged Wells Fargo and other investment banks providing loans to DAPL developer Energy Transfer Partners to end their financial support of the oil pipeline project.

“In responding to peaceful protection of tribal lands and resources with militarized violence, federal, state and local governments, as well as the shadowy web of corporations funding and construction the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), are perpetuating a long history of white imperialist violence against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other native peoples,” SURJ said in a Dec. 3 press release.

Organizers from SURJ chose Columbus Circle, just south of Union Station, as the starting point for the march to symbolize the brutality faced by indigenous people in the Americas at the hands of white settlers for more than 500 years. Along with showing solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota, organizers recognized that the District of Columbia is situated on the land of the Powhatan chiefdom, a tribal body that encompassed nearly 30 tribes and 6,000 square miles.

Activists Escalate Campaign against DAPL Banks

The protesters walked several blocks from Columbus Circle, halting traffic along the way, to Chao’s house where they intended to urge the incoming DOT secretary to convince Wells Fargo to end its financing of the Dakota Access project. The former Labor secretary in the George W. Bush administration appeared not to be home. Wells Fargo reportedly said it would “be pleased” to meet with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe this month to discuss its investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Protesters march from Columbus Circle to home of Wells Fargo board member Elaine Chao to demonstrate solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux trible./Photo by Mark Hand.

Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky. The protesters quietly sang outside the house and then passed out leaflets about the Dakota Access Pipeline in the neighborhood. About a half-dozen police arrived on the scene, but no one was arrested.

“We join the thousands of American Indians from hundreds of tribes and millions of people of conscience from around the world in demanding the immediate withdrawal of police/military and construction forces from Standing Rock, as well as reparations for the recent and historical harms perpetrated by the U.S. government,” the SURJ press release said.

Along with serving as a board member of Wells Fargo, Chao also sits on the board of directors of News Corp., the Rupert Murdoch-founded media conglomerate that owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and dozens of other media companies.

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#NoDAPL DC Solidarity March Resounds with ‘Water Is Life’ Battle Cry

DC Media Group - Sun, 11/27/2016 - 19:13

Washington, DC — Several hundred people, led by Native Americans in ceremonial dress, marched from the Department of Justice to the Washington Monument on Sunday in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is under construction on land belonging to Sioux Nations according to an 1851 treaty. This event was one of many solidarity actions supporting the North Dakota resistance camps fighting the pipeline, which if completed would run 1,168 miles from North Dakota Bakken shale fields to Illinois.

The march, organized by Last Real Indians, was accompanied by a drum circle and singers in a pick-up truck preceding the marchers. Three girls in “jingle dress” and five Native Americans in ceremonial dress danced and marched proudly up Pennsylvania Ave. in front of hundreds with banners and signs.

Marchers chanted, “Can’t drink oil, keep it in the soil,” “Who do we stand with? Standing Rock,” and “Mni wconi, water is life!” Among the signs, some read, “Honor the treaties,” referring to the U.S. government’s treaties with the sovereign American Indian nations governing the land appropriated by Dakota Access LLC for its pipeline. Other signs read,”Defend the Sacred: We Are Still Here” and “Respect Existence, Expect Resistance.”

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and several police departments and agencies from other states have made an all-out effort to defend the Dakota Access Pipeline from massive camps of protesters, or “Water Protectors,” as they prefer to be called. Thousands have flocked to the remote North Dakota region in an effort to stop the pipeline or delay its completion beyond January 1, when some of Dakota Access’ contracts expire. Law enforcement, outfitted with militarized gear and vehicles, have used full force on Water Protectors, including so-called “less-lethal” weapons such as rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers, tear gas, water cannons and LRADs, a sound cannon which can cause permanent hearing damage.

On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux saying that it would eject all protesters north of the Cannonball River on December 5. At the march’s destination at the Washington Monument, Last Real Indians founder Chase Alone Iron Eyes addressed the crowd regarding ACE’s letter.

“The Army Corps of Engineers seeks to declare Native American peoples trespassers on their own land. In 1875, they sent the same letter,” he said. “The more things change, the more they stay the same. But things are different now.”

He said that his people had been “a warrior people” who had defended themselves “to the death.” But now, he said, “we are living in a different time, with different gifts and technologies.” While the Morton County Sheriff’s Department had tried to paint them as violent, they would not “fall into that trap.”

“All we need is the power of our peace,” he said. “Peace is not passive. Peace is standing in your own dignity. We are the moral compass of this country.” He was grateful for having allies, he said. “This is not only a Native American fight. This is so much more explosive than that. They’re coming for your constitutional rights [too].”

A group of U.S military veterans have said that they will “deploy” to Standing Rock Dec. 4-7 to defend Water Protectors and sabotage Dakota Access Pipeline construction.

Click to view slideshow.



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Fidel Castro Mourned at Cuban Embassy

DC Media Group - Sat, 11/26/2016 - 22:52

Washington, DC — They came to the Cuban Embassy to say goodbye to a revolutionary and long time leader who guided Cuba through six decades as the President.

Fidel Castro died yesterday at 90 after a long illness. He was remembered by admirers as a revolutionary more than a president, who led his island nation through turbulent times, surviving nine U.S. presidencies and a nearly six decades of an embargo. Critics however curse him as a politically repressive dictator who did not tolerate dissent.

The embargo was established after the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1959, after Castro came to power during the Kennedy administration. It denied his country trade with much of the West, reducing its economy to an austere remnant of its 1950s heyday when it was regarded as a getaway playground for Hollywood socialites.

President Obama reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba last year, ending the embargo and ushering in conditions for future market access. The Embassy of Cuba was reopened in July 2015, and direct travel was allowed to the island for the first time since 1959.

Many who stopped by the embassy left flowers and traded stories about Castro’s life and what he did for his country, including James Ploeser, a member of the Latin America and Caribbean Network. “He stood up to the powers that be in the most powerful country in the world and dedicated his life to benefiting poor and working people,” said Ploeser.

Ploeser spoke about access to healthcare for everyone in Cuba, something not seen in the U.S. “The Cuban example shows that providing healthcare to everyone is a very important and possible thing to do for a fairly poor country,” he said.

Musician Carlos Alfredo-Castro, who wrote a song for Castro, spoke about the free education system in Cuba, and said that Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. “It’s very impressive how one person can change a whole nation,” said Alfredo-Carlos.

A state funeral is planned in Cuba for Fidel Castro next week. The entire country is expected to take part.

World powers came close to a nuclear exchange during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, when Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev deployed nuclear weapons to the island nation. Castro persevered through that crisis and many more, eventually becoming a respected leader in South American countries.

“He was always thinking about the workers and the poor,” said Alfred-Castro.

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On Thanksgiving Day, Immigrants Urge Obama to Undo His Legacy as ‘Deporter-in-Chief’

DC Media Group - Fri, 11/25/2016 - 16:24

Cesar Vargas, an attorney with the Dream Action Coalition, speaks at Thanksgiving Day press conference in front of White House./Photo by Kevin Thomas.

Undocumented immigrants and their allies traveled this week from Trump Tower in New York City to the White House in Washington, DC, as part of a movement called “Caravan of Courage” to demand action from President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.

The Dream Action Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, organized the march in the wake of Trump’s election and as Obama’s presidency, which has seen a record number of deportations, enters its final weeks. On their trip from Trump Tower to the White House, the group made stops along the route to support other activists, including organizers against a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Philadelphia.

“We have marched to meet with immigrant communities along the way in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey to demonstrate one message very clear: that we are undocumented, unafraid and we are here to stay,” Cesar Vargas, an attorney with the Dream Action Coalition, said at a press conference in front of the White House on Thanksgiving Day. “Today is Thanksgiving. Millions of families are spending the day with their families at the table. But the reality is that millions of other American families have their loved ones in private detention centers where private corporations are profiting at the expense of the taxpayers, at the expense of our immigrant and American families.”

The Obama administration, with the backing of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, has detained and deported a record number of undocumented immigrants. “We had high hopes for President Obama, but he has detained the most immigrants than any president in American history,” Vargas emphasized. “What is his legacy as he leaves office? Will he be the Deporter-in-Chief? Or will he be the champion that keeps families together? That’s his decision.”

Between 2009 and 2014, 2.4 million people were deported from the U.S., according to a Pew Research data analysis released Aug. 31. If 2015 and 2016 keep pace with the first six years,, about 3.2 million people will have been deported under the Obama administration. Under the previous Bush administration, about 2 million people were deported between 2001 and 2008.

The Dream Action Coalition works to establish local, state, and federal policies that secure fairness for the diverse immigrant community without discrimination based on immigration status or national origin. Dream is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or the DREAM Act, legislation that would grant undocumented immigrants residency upon meeting certain qualifications. The legislation, first introduced 15 years ago, has yet to pass Congress. In 2012, Obama announced that his administration would stop deporting young undocumented individuals who meet certain criteria previously proposed under the DREAM Act.

Activists Highlight Immigrant Action Items

At the Nov. 24 press conference, Vargas highlighted four areas where Obama still can help immigrant communities in his final two months in office.

  • Close family detention centers, including those in Pennsylvania and Texas, many of which are private and are profiting from the suffering of immigrant families.
  • Expedite all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications. DACA is an immigration policy ordered by Obama in 2012 as an executive action that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation.
  • Pardon approximately 42,000 detainees currently in prison for immigration-related charges.
  • Stop preventing entry to asylum seekers who are being persecuted in their countries.

Participants in the Caravan of Courage call on President Barack Obama to end detention and deportation of immigrants./Photo courtesy of Dream Action Coalition.

Sal Montes, an immigrant rights activist from Dutchess County, NY, passionately spoke of the struggle facing immigrant families: “Those who do not know our pain tonight be thankful that you don’t have to be here like we are. Be thankful that you are not in our shoes and that you will never feel the fear or see the fear in your friends and families,” Montes said. “But do not forget that your ancestors were once in our shoes as immigrants felt what we’re feeling right now.”

With the election of Donald Trump as president, the nation has seen an increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence against communities of color. “We’re not going to tolerate that. That’s why we march, to send that strong message. This is the country that we call home and we’re not going to let fear dictate what we’re going to do in the next four years,” Vargas said.

Vargas, who came to the United States when he was five-years-old, graduated from law school and became the first undocumented attorney in New York State.

The Dream Action Coalition has requested a meeting with Trump, according to Vargas, so the president-elect can “see the human side of a broken immigration system than many people don’t see.” Vargas said the group wants the United States to get rid of a “dragnet where innocent, hard-working immigrants are caught up in a system that is broken and outdated.”

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Police Attack Water Protectors at Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff

DC Media Group - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 20:45

Morton County sheriff’s department uses water cannon on water protectors in North Dakota./Photo by Dallas Goldtooth

Standing Rock Reservation, ND — In what will go down as one of the most violent chapters of a nine-month standoff against a company building an oil pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation in Morton County, ND, police launched a full-frontal attack against Water Protectors trying to clear access across a bridge on Highway 1806.

Hundreds were injured, more than two dozen seriously, including an activist from New York who may lose functioning of an arm and is still in the hospital as of publication. An elder suffered a cardiac arrest, and a 13-year-old girl was shot in the head, purportedly by a rubber bullet. Dozens more were shot with what are believed to be rubber bullets.

Police launched the attack Sunday evening as thousands of indigenous people and their allies gathered as night fell and temperatures dropped below freezing. Water Protectors moved onto the bridge to clear burned-out vehicles to access the construction site where crews were beginning final preparations for drilling under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. Police had set up a blockade behind the vehicles, and Water Protectors were able to remove one vehicle before police pinned them down on the bridge.

As of Monday night, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) had still not issued final permits for Dakota Access Pipeline construction crews to proceed when word of drilling preparations began circulating around the camps nearby.

Violent attacks by armed police were live-streamed throughout the night. Subsequent photos confirmed  police fired gas canisters, flashbang grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons on hundreds who were trapped on the bridge.

Water Protector prays covered with ice from water cannon./Photo by Rob Wilson

The Standing Rock Facebook page issued requests for supporters to call the White House and the ACE to demand President Barack Obama intervene, but it was difficult to get through switchboards. As of Monday, the White House had not signaled that it would intervene.

“They deployed twenty mace canisters in a small area in less than five minutes,” said Angel Bivens, an attorney with the Standing Rock Water Protectors legal collective, who spoke by phone with Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Police Arsenal Includes Concussion Grenades

Bivens reported that a woman had suffered a serious knee injury, and an elder had suffered a cardiac arrest but had been revived by medics on the scene. She also reported that the front-line medical area had come under attack by police with mace canisters and water cannons.

Standing Rock Medical and Healers Council sent a press release reporting over 300 injuries, which they treated on site, and 26 serious injuries, which were sent to several area hospitals. The press release outlined the human carnage from the attack, listing hypothermia as the major injury in most patients treated.

“Police continuously assaulted demonstrators with up to three water cannons for the first 7 hours of this incident in subfreezing temperatures dipping to 22°F, causing hypothermia in the majority of patients treated. Chemical weapons in the form of pepper spray and tear gas were also used extensively, requiring chemical decontamination for nearly all patients treated and severe reactions in many,” the press release said. “Projectiles in the form of tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades led to numerous blunt force traumas including head wounds, lacerations, serious orthopedic injuries, eye trauma, and internal bleeding.”

Sophia Wilansky suffered a direct hit from concussion grenade./Photo by Wayne Wilansky

Sophia Wilansky, 21, an activist from New York who had joined in support of Water Protectors several weeks ago, suffered a direct hit in the arm by a concussion grenade and will lose most functioning in her arm, according to her father. Friends had posted a request to help her family with blood donations and medical expenses. As of Tuesday night, the fund had raised $249,000, but medical expenses are expected to cost several hundred thousand dollars. More surgeries will be required on her arm over the coming days.

Morton County police denied using water cannons at first, and then later admitted using them to mist activists in response to fires that they set to keep warm.  But live stream video showed water cannons being fired directly onto the Water Protectors throughout the night as temperatures dipped below freezing. Water Protectors also reported flashbang grenade fire from police. Flashbang grenades are known to start fires under the right conditions.

A live stream broadcast by Kevin Gilbert from a nearby hill through the night narrated the violent scenes. Reaction to the attack was swift and described as heavy handed and brutal. Both Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders, former presidential candidates, shared the live stream of the attack on their Facebook pages.

Over 400 Water Protectors have been arrested since the uprising began at Standing Rock in April.

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Anti-Fascists Storm National Policy Institute Dinner

DC Media Group - Sun, 11/20/2016 - 21:38

Washington, DC — Activists from Smash Racism DC, an anti-fascist group, confronted about 60 members of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a white nationalist think-tank, at a local restaurant where they were holding a dinner meeting Friday night.

They barged into the dining area of Maggiano’s of Little Italy, chasing the self-proclaimed white “identifiers” upstairs. As meeting participants bolted upstairs, protesters chanted, “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascist USA!”

Maggiano’s staff quickly formed a human barricade on the stairs between protesters and NPI members, blocking access until police arrived. There was a brief pushing match between Maggiano’s staff and protesters but no injuries or arrests. NPI members, including its president Richard Spencer paced on the balcony above and jeered at the protesters.

Several diners not associated with NPI cheered on the protesters, but it was not clear if they were aware of the nature of the dinner meeting going on in the room nearby.

Richard Spencer, President of the National Policy Institute (center)/Photo by John Zangas

Richard Spencer coined the term “Alternative Right,” also known as Alt-Right. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it “a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white identity’ is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and ‘their’ civilization.” Those espousing the Alt-Right ideology made up some of Donald Trump’s most enthusiastic campaign supporters. In addition to Spencer, other well-known nationalists in attendance at Friday’s dinner included Peter Brimelow of Vdare, a white nationalist group, and Nathan Damigo, head of Identity Evropa, a White supremacist group

Earlier that evening, activists held a flash mob at Trump International Hotel to bring attention to President-elect Trump’s recent political appointments, some of whom espouse racial bigotry and sexism. However, a tip-off led the protesters to relocate to the NPI dinner meeting in Friendship Heights.

Lacy MacAuley, a spokesperson associated with Smash Racism DC, said that NPI represents an ideology of hate. “They would like to hide their ideology of hate behind a veneer of suits and they think they look professional, but it’s actually a policy of hate,” she said.

MacAuley believes it is important to stand up against their ideology because of the threat it poses to others not like them. “Their policies would have people who they deem inferior to somehow forced to be sterilized. Their policies would have people who don’t look like them in some sort of slow motion genocide,” she said.

NPI regards the Trump election as a victory because of his racist rhetoric, in line with its white supremacist ideology. “There was an article published by Richard Spencer calling for the genocide of Black people,” said Daryl Jenkins, Executive Director of One Peoples Project, an anti-racist organization.

Anti-fascist protesters rush into the dining room where NPI members are eating./Photo by John Zangas

Jenkins believes it is important to take organizations such as NPI seriously, because they pose both a political and social threat to democratic order, no matter who is president. “Their mission is to create a separate nation for white people,” said Jenkins. “We’ve seen this thing before, and we know what they’re going to do. Everybody is past that, and we’re not going to let it go any further.”

NPI hosted its annual conference Saturday at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. There was a scuffle between protesters and an NPI member outside the building. Police detained several but released them shortly afterwards.

NPI has been meeting twice annually in Washington since 2011, but with Trump’s election is establishing a new foothold of access to power inside the beltway. With the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s Chief Strategist, a known Alt-Right supporter, as well as his cabinet appointments of far right ideologues, they are seeking increased visibility.

Answer Coalition is organizing an anti-racist mobilization during the inauguration weekend to counter the surge of racial incidents against Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and other minorities occurring since the election.

Click to view slideshow.


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Obama Can Stop Dakota Access Pipeline Once and for All, Say Standing Rock Supporters

DC Media Group - Fri, 11/18/2016 - 12:41

Washington, DC — It was not business as usual when a delegation of indigenous people from Standing Rock Reservation and thousands of allies shut off access to the General Accounting Office (GAO) on Tuesday during a sit-in. They were there to pressure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), whose offices are housed there, to deny the final permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Its parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, needs an easement to finish the pipeline by drilling under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.

Security guards stood helplessly by on the other side of bolted doors, while well-known environmentalists, including actress Shailene Woodley, spoke out against the pipeline, which, if completed, would send 460,000 gallons of Bakken crude to Chicago for refining. She called on the public to pay attention to the brutal police response to the Standing Rock Sioux. The sit-in was but one action in over 300 actions in cities across the nation.

Actor/activist Shailene Woodley speaks to Standing Rock supporters at the US Army Corps of Engineers office in Washington, DC/Photo by John Zangas

Woodley, who was arrested in September during the standoff and charged with engaging a riot, said Water Protectors were peaceful and that the police were creating a “false narrative” in their violent characterization of Water Protectors.

“I was charged with engaging in a riot. I don’t know what kind of riot the people of North Dakota have been to, but the protest that I participated in was the last thing from a riot,” said Woodley.

Hundreds of indigenous people locked in the tense standoff against militarized police have suffered trauma from brutal arrests and police tactics, yet have persevered. Construction crews have been franticly working to finish the final segment of the controversial pipeline before the January 1 in-service date. The police have used rubber bullets, tear gas, and sound cannons on Water Protectors and those arrested have been strip-searched.

Woodley criticized mainstream media for not even reporting the Dakota Access Pipeline story and the police for painting the Sioux as violent. She asked everyone to reach out to friends on social media who are not aware of the drama playing out at Standing Rock Reservation. “We have to educate those who don’t know because we know the mainstream media is not doing it,” she said.

Woodley also encouraged divestment from the banks financing the project by closing personal accounts.

Environmentalists such as Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, have said that completion of the pipeline would pose great risk to the Missouri and underlying aquifer on which millions depend.

McKibben said that the Standing Rock Sioux are standing up for everybody’s rights, and they should be honored by everyone for that. “People understand that it’s a place of great moral significance where a huge battle for human rights is underway saving not only the water but the climate as well,” he said.

The uprising has touched every corner of the globe as well. Worldwide rallies in support of the Sioux were held in the countries of New Zealand, Lebanon, Fiji, the Philippines, and in Brazil.

Senator Bernie Sanders emphasizes Native American sovereign rights when he speaks to Standing Rock allies at the White House/Photo by John Zangas

If there is a spill, critics of the pipeline say the reservation will lose its only water source for generations. They have also condemned violent police tactics used against peaceful Water Protectors.

LaDonna Allard, who is with Sacred Stone Camp, one of the encampments which is a base for the movement against the pipeline, and Eryn Wise, of the Indigenous Youth Council, led a subsequent march of several thousand from the GAO to the White House.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) met the Sioux delegation as it arrived in Lafayette Park at the White House. “For hundreds of years the Native Americans, the first Americans, have been lied to, cheated, and their sovereign rights have been denied them,” said Sanders to the thousands who had walked from the GAO.

Sanders complemented the Sioux for standing up for water rights and the environment. “We are demanding sovereign rights for Native Americans,” he said.

President Obama’s hesitancy to step in and stop the project, but instead adopting a “wait and see how things play out” posture, has provided an opening for activists to continue building political pressure on the builders of the project.

On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a statement delaying the final permits for “consultations ” with tribal leaders and to reconsider the environmental impacts, one of their major concerns.

President-elect Trump has investment in the project and is expected to push necessary permits through if it is still not completed after he is sworn in. But Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska said that Obama has a “trump card” he can play that will not only stop the project but kill it forever.

Protesters conducted a sit-in at the Army Corps of Engineer offices in Washington, DC./Photo by John Zangas

Kleeb said Predident Obama has authority to designate the area a national monument. She asked the crowd to call the White House and ask the President to designate the area near Standing Rock as a National Landmark.

“If you declare Standing Rock a national monument,” Kleeb said, addressing Obama, “that means that no oil and gas development can happen on that land.”

President-elect Trump has come out not only as a climate denier, but a strong advocate of the fossil energy industry. Advocating for President Obama to designate the area around Standing Rock Reservation as a national monument may be the last option the Sioux have to stop the project before Trump takes office January 20.

Click to view slideshow.

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‘Jewish Resistance’ Against Trump and Bannon Begins with March on Transition HQ

DC Media Group - Thu, 11/17/2016 - 16:48

Protesters gathered at the Washington, DC, headquarters of Donald Trump’s transition team on Nov. 17 to denounce the hatred and anti-Semitism they believe the president-elect and his close adviser Steve Bannon stirred up during the Republican’s presidential campaign.

The protesters, many affiliated with a group called IfNotNow, urged Trump to fire his soon-to-be top strategist Bannon, who also serves as executive chairman of the far right-wing news site Breitbart News. A large group traveled to Washington from Philadelphia to express their opposition to Trump’s policies and the president-elect’s transition team.

IfNotNow was created in 2014 by mostly young Jewish Americans committed to ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. In New York City, IfNotNow is organizing a protest at a Nov. 20 gala of the Zionist Organization of America, where Bannon is scheduled to speak.

“I came down today to be a part of the start to the Jewish resistance,” said Pele IrgangLaden, a Philadelphia resident and organizer with IfNotNow. “Donald Trump ran a campaign based on hatred, misogyny, racism, sexism, and honestly it was the first time in my life that I had seen widespread anti-Semitism. I felt that as a Jewish person, I needed to be on the right side of history and stand with other people together against hate and violence.”

The dozens of protesters marched from Farragut Square in downtown DC to the nearby Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) to protest the prominent Jewish group’s unwillingness to denounce Trump. One day after the Nov. 8 election, JFNA sent a letter to Trump that read: “We very much look forward to working closely with you and your administration on uniting our country and on the important challenges ahead of us all.”

Prominent Jewish Groups Remain ‘Deafening Silent’

From the JFNA’s offices, the protesters marched to Trump’s transition headquarters about two blocks from the White House. One of the signs at the rally read: “If you ever thought in 1933 whether or not you would have fought back, now is the time to decide.” Despite the relative silence of many prominent Jewish groups, the resistance is beginning to manifest itself in other parts of the Jewish community, according to IrgangLaden.

“Our community’s leaders at the Jewish Federations and other groups that claim to speak for Jews — AIPAC and others — have been deafening silent and even have been offering their assistance to the Trump transition,” said Ethan Miller, an organizer with IfNotNow. “American Jewish institutions, the ones that claim to support values of social justice, need to speak up against anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.”

Some Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the Anti-Defamation League have denounced Bannon’s appointment, but most groups have remained silent. “Steven Bannon is a strong supporter of the Israeli occupation. These organizations are taking the pro-Israel-at-any-cost way of doing business and taking it to the extreme,” Miller said.

The protesters entered the lobby of the federal government building that houses the Trump transition team and chanted against the policies of the incoming administration. No arrests were made. “This is the greatest increase in anti-Semitism a lot of us have seen in our lifetimes, and we’re really worried,” Miller said. “We’ve seen hate crimes at synagogues and at schools, anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment as well as hate crimes at mosques. There’s a big increase in fear in this country.”

Supporters of the Netanyahu government in Israel and the settler movement in the Occupied Territories favor Trump’s policies of a registry of Muslims and eliminating movement of refugees because “that’s exactly what the Netanyahu government has been doing for years,” Miller said.

Establishment Democrats are not qualified to lead a resistance to Trump because of their institutional cautiousness and ties to many of the same lobbyists that provide support to both Republicans and Democrats, IrgangLaden said. “Obama telling us to wait and people saying to welcome Trump as well as the Jewish Federations’ congratulations of Trump and AIPAC’s silence on Trump and Bannon, we know all of that is not the leadership we need. We’re here to be the leaders that our institutions refuse to be.”

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DNC Headquarters Ambushed by Protesters Claiming Party ‘Sold Out’

DC Media Group - Wed, 11/16/2016 - 17:23

Protesters dressed as movers try to push through security at the DNC./Photo by Anne Meador

Washington, DC — Protesters dressed as movers charged the door of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters today, trying to gain entrance to the building. Security fended them off and barricaded the front steps.

Protesters drove up in a U-Haul van wearing blue jumpsuits. They carried cardboard boxes and wheeled a hand truck to the front door, claiming they were hired movers. They unfurled a large banner reading “Betrayal” and recited chants such as, “We want democracy, not corporatocracy!” They alleged that the Democratic Party, headed by the DNC, has “sold out” to corporate interests, and corruption played a part in the Party’s election defeat.

The Democratic Party tried to stay in power by “manipulation and fear,” said Kevin Zeese of Baltimore-based Popular Resistance. “Why did they lose? Because they ignored the people. Obama pushed the TPP [Trans Pacific Partnership] on people. That’s why we’re moving the DNC out of government.”

The demonstrators taped signs to the building reading, “For Sale” and “Evict the DNC.” They arranged cardboard boxes labelled “Lesser Evils,” “Pay to Playbooks,” and “Empty Promises.”

Washington, DC resident Toni Sanders says she believes that the Democratic Party took black people for granted in this election, assuming that they would vote for Hillary Clinton.

“If you really took us seriously as a people you wouldn’t push a candidate who backed [her husband’s] crime bill, who called us superpredators,” she said. She believes that Democrats didn’t respect black people’s intelligence. “They used Obama to guilt us, tiptoed around Black Lives Matter,” she said. She objected to President Obama’s signing of the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, and said that Hillary Clinton didn’t have solutions for police brutality and police shooting of blacks either. She also didn’t address issues like creating jobs and problems in inner cities.

People have been “betrayed” by Democrats who serve corporate interests, protesters say./Photo by Anne Meador

“They didn’t give us a choice. This is supposed to be our party,” she said. “They hurt us so much more” with Hillary Clinton as the candidate. She said she voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary and Jill Stein in the general election.

The DNC’s alleged collusion with the Hillary Clinton campaign to quash Bernie Sanders in the primary concerned the protesters, but it is only a piece of a larger picture of corruption, according to many of the protesters. “The DNC sold us out in the first place when they ran over Bernie,” said Peter Weston of Seattle-based Backbone Campaign. “The DNC is not serving people, it is serving corporatocracy.”

The protesters’ ire was not limited to the DNC. Only two days before, a group organized by Popular Resistance and Backbone Campaign blockaded a busy interstate highway in Washington, DC to bring attention to racism, xenophobia and policies serving the wealthy they believe a Trump administration will embody.

Click to view slideshow.

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