We Need Your Help (An Update On Take Back The Land DC's Plans
As you may know, members of Take Back The Land and ONE DC (organizing Neighborhood Equity) are working together to plan a direct action that will publicize and politicize the need for affordable housing and will hold the local politicians' feet to the fire so as to make them follow through on their December 2008 resolution which declared Washington, DC to be a human rights city. The United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared housing to be a human right. Furthermore, many people are being made homeless by the present economic crisis, which makes it imperative that we act now to prevent any more people from becoming homeless and to rehouse those who are living on the streets and in the shelters of the richest nation on earth.
Since our attempts at getting the mayor to follow through on his promises to create a sufficient amount of affordable housing have failed, we see fit to organize a direct action that is sure to get his attention and to expose his broken promises. As it turns out, the DC Council has failed to put pressure on the mayor to do the right thing. We hope to get through to them too.
This just happens to be an election year. The mayor and 6 councilmembers are up for re-election. This creates the perfect enviroment for forcing our public officials to meet the most basic needs of their constituents.
It is with this in mind that we are planning our direct action. However, we have had a few bumps in the road. Take Back The Land, an organization which is heading a national campaign to make housing a "realized" human right through "liberations" of vacant houses and "defenses" of those who are in danger of eviction, designated May as a month of action during which people in various cities across the nation would take over vacant properties and put homeless people in the vacant houses. At ONE DC we determined that we didn't have enough lead time and would need to do our direct action in June. Then we received some legal advise which indicated that local laws, being what they are, made the planned direct action an unwise choice for some people to get involved in.
So, we've altered our plans slightly:
We will have a block party on July 10th, beginning at noon. It will be in the 600 block "S" Street, NW, a half block from the north (Howard U.) exit of the Shaw/Howard U. Metro station.
We will use the occasion to publicize the local housing crisis and to do a political teach-in. The event promises to draw hundreds of people. Our hope is that a few dozen of those people will become serious about addressing the housing issue and get involved in our on-going direct actions.
The scare came on April 17th, during our direct action training. Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights gave about 30 aspiring activists some legal advice. They did their best not to scare us out of moving forward with our plans, as they were honest about the risks involved. They said that most people who do direct actions only spend a single night in jail, so long as the direct action is their only "crime" [sic] that they committed. However, those with prior felonies, too many civil disobedience (moral obedience) charges and those who are on probation or parole could be kept longer. Undocumented people could be repatriated to their country of origin. Those receiving public benefits such as food stamps, SSI or welfare checks could lose them. As it turns out, this was too much of a risk for those living in the poor, Black neighborhood which ONE DC serves. This is why the plans were changed.
Labels: change, dirty politics, economy, Fenty, Gentrification, Homelessness, hope, housing rights, Human Rights, recession, revolution, riots, social justice, vacant property, vacant property takeover