ShutDownDC holds public protest for People's Bailout on Capitol Hill

On the 9th of April, the ShutDownDC activists who staged last year's major climate change blockades in DC held a public protest on Capitol Hill to demand a "People's Bailout." They were protesting Trump's coronavirus packages that focus primarily on saving corporations.

Masked activists displayed banners in the US Capitol lawn with these demands, defying "stay at home" orders which in many places (notably Hong Kong) are used to suppress political dissent as well as the coronavirus. If anything is essential, it's standing up and fighting back against corporate bullies and their bought and paid for "representatives" on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in government. The 8th of April was the second day in a row protesters deployed publicly in DC in the face of the current all-out police state.


On March 27, while much of the country was just starting to shelter in place and millions of workers were getting layoff notices, Donald Trump signed a massive $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act law. The massive bailout package included $1,200 checks for many people, extended unemployment benefits for laid off workers and aid for state and local governments, but the big winners were the large corporations who would receive $500 billion in loans and subsidies.

Two weeks later, while the ink was barely dry on the bill and the death toll from the pandemic was rapidly rising, Trump removed the inspector general who was going to oversee the spending of the $2 trillion stimulus spending effectively eliminating congressional oversight over the program.

We’ve seen this all before. During the 2008 financial crisis the government bailed out the banks that created the crisis while millions of families lost their homes. But now is not the time for more business as usual. So far, more than 14,000 people in the United States have died from the COVID-19 virus and that number is expected to grow by tens of thousands in the coming months.

This virus is impacting everyone, but it is not impacting all of our communities in the same ways. Early data shows that Black and Brown communities are getting sick and dying at much higher rates than white communities. The federal bailout package excludes immigrant workers from cash assistance and here in Washington, DC Mayor Bowser and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson stripped away $5 million that had been earmarked in a local ordinance for excluded workers. Thousands of people are sitting in jails, prisons and ICE detention centers around the region and across the country, facing a potential death sentence as COVID-19 spreads in the tight quarters of their institutions unless they are released soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has cracked open the veneer of our economic and social system. It’s putting the inequities in health care, wealth, housing, education, and much more on full display, and exacerbating existing crises. And unless we stop them, the politicians and lobbyists will continue to take advantage of this pandemic to suppress the vote, funnel hundreds of billions of dollars to their corporate cronies, and loosen already minimal environmental rules.

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