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.

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 13 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 40 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 50 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am 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 Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 53 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-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 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 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 Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

April 05, 2017

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.

Feminist Working Group

April 12, 2017
· 15 rsvps

People of all genders are welcome to join this call to discuss DSA's work on women's and LGBTQ issues, especially in light of the new political reality that we face after the elections.  9 pm ET; 8 pm CT; 7 pm MT; 6 pm PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

April 16, 2017
· 6 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.