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: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 44 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 8 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

DSA New Member Orientation Call

February 15, 2017
· 61 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.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 3 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 check out their short the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 2 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.