NPC Statement on the Killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the Dallas Police Officers

The Need for A Democratic Transformation of the Criminal Justice and Police System

Issued by the National Political Committee of DSA, June 12, 2016

Democratic Socialists of America condemns the recent police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. These are the latest in the endless taking of black lives by the excessive and precipitous use of deadly police force. Despite the increased attention to these arbitrary killings by the militant protest of #BlackLivesMatter, the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and scores of others go unpunished.

This devaluing of the lives of African Americans derives from a racist criminal justice system that serves to repress and contain low-income communities rather than promote peace and well-being. The close working relationship between prosecutors and police precludes the impartial investigation and prosecution of police violence. Thus, in addition to greater community control of policing and the demilitarization of police, DSA calls for independent investigation of all uses of lethal police force.

As an organization committed to nonviolent political action to achieve social justice, DSA also condemns the murder of police in Dallas this past week. This senseless loss of life occurred during a peaceful protest against police brutality and in a city where a relatively integrated police force has taken some useful steps towards community and accountable policing.

The right wing, however, has used the tragic deaths in Dallas to attack #BlackLivesMatter, a movement committed to militant, but peaceful organizing. DSA is committed to working as allies of #BlackLivesMatter and others fighting for racial equality, in part because a divided working class is an already defeated working class. We believe that people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds must understand their role in a white supremacist, capitalist system and build solidarity across their differences, but that white progressives have a particular responsibility to combat nativist and racist political movements that justify current police practices as necessary to protect “blue lives.”

A truly democratically controlled criminal justice system should promote peace and justice, not arbitrary violence. Many matters now handled by police, such as drug use and community disputes, are best handled by mental health professionals and community-based mediation. When necessary to protect human life, police intervention must be as restrained as possible, with the use of firearms as an absolute last resort. In many societies that have more practical and effective gun policies than our own, most police do not carry firearms. Stronger gun control policies, as well as severe restrictions on police use of firearms, must be part of any restructuring of the role of police in our society.

The United States can only achieve democratic forms of peacekeeping and dispute resolution if we comprehend the historic role of the police in reinforcing forms of racial and class domination. Armed and professional police forces arose in the United States to capture fugitive slaves and to repress striking workers. Thus, the struggle for a democratic judicial and criminal justice system is integrally tied to the fight for racial, gender, and class equality. Mass incarceration and repressive policing cannot redress the absence of economic and educational opportunities that beset inner cities and increasingly inner suburbs and deindustrialized small towns. Nothing short of radical democratic change can alter a criminal justice system that works to perpetuate American apartheid.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
· 38 rsvps

Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 49 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 93 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 26 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 13 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.