To Overcome Ferguson We Must Abolish the New Jim Crow

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is outraged but not surprised at the failure of the St. Louis County grand jury to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. The structural bias in our judicial and criminal justice system in favor of police who engage in violent action against unarmed Black and Brown people rendered the outcome unsurprising, yet still enraging. How can an unarmed person be killed by an armed police officer without there being a case for a criminal prosecution? The glaring injustice of  the grand jury verdict is why tens of thousands of individuals across the country stormed into the streets after the announcement of the grand jury verdict. DSA joins others in demanding that the Federal Department of Justice continue its investigation into the conduct of the Ferguson police department and the possible violation of Michael Brown's civil rights by Officer Wilson and the department.

Prosecutor Robert McCullough acted more as a defense attorney than a district attorney working diligently to indict someone whose actions created sufficient suspicion of illegal activity to summon a grand jury. In 2012, in the more than 160,000 grand jury proceedings, only 12 did not yield some form of criminal indictment!  Hence the oft-repeated expression that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich. But the absence of justice for Michael Brown is not unexpected in a world where Blacks are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than whites and where the prosecution of police for violent crimes (even involuntary homicide) is rare.

DSA urges its members to join protests against the Ferguson grand jury decision. We also urge our members and locals to deepen their organizing against mass incarceration, police violence and systematic voter suppression. The color line that still defines injustice in the United States can only be broken through the building of a strong, multi-racial and anti-racist Left that stands in solidarity with movements in communities of color struggling for racial justice.

Protests against Ferguson must not be a one-off isolated reaction. The events in Ferguson are a product of the systemic, structural racism that continues to characterize American society. This system of racialized capitalism not only yields radically unequal life chances for people of color, it literally devalues their worth as human beings.

The inability of many whites to see the failure to indict Officer Wilson as a product of systematic racism highlights the need for white progressives to step up their work against racism in white communities. The powers that be throughout United States history have stoked racism and racial division to divide working people and to convince too many whites of modest means that their racial privilege trumps their economic oppression. This divisiveness is increasingly powerful in a world where socio-economic inequality is greater than at any point since the 1920s.

DSA also favors the appointment of a presidential commission to explore alternatives to the militarization of local police forces and the excessive use of armed police violence against unarmed civilians. Police officers need to be better trained and must be demographically more representative of  the communities they police, but such necessary interventions alone will not solve the problem.

The failure to break today's Jim Crow sustains bi-partisan policies of neo-liberal attacks on social services and public education that harm working and poor people of all races. DSA hopes that the multi-racial protests against Ferguson marks the beginning of a new coalition politics that recognizes that justice for all is not possible unless systemic forms of racial exclusion and domination are abolished.

Passed by the National Political Committee: November 25, 2014.

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 79 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 37 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 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.