Did you know that in Louisiana you can be convicted of a felony or sent to jail for life without a unanimous jury decision? This unjust rule dates back to the 1898 state convention when white supremacists put Jim Crow laws in Louisiana’s constitution. Louisiana residents have a chance to change this on November 6th by voting YES on Amendment 2.
This sign spotted in the Marigny does a pretty great job illustrating why we need unanimous juries in Louisiana. This past week, our chapter joined the Unanimous Jury Coalition to phone bank and get the word out about Yes on 2.
After a leaked memo suggested the Trump administration wants to create a legal definition of sex as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” our chapter felt it important to release this statement:
We stand in solidarity with trans and gender non-binary folks now and always. No matter what right wing fascists say or do, we’ll support our trans members & loved ones and continue to fight for their liberation and for the liberation of trans people everywhere. Trans rights are human rights.
Last night our chapter hosted a talk at the Musician’s Union Hall on Medicare for All and healthcare justice in New Orleans. Frances Gill, co-chair of our chapter’s Healthcare for All Committee and southern regional organizer for DSA’s M4A Campaign, started us off with a powerful statement to our packed room of 50 or so people on the need for Medicare for All to win true healthcare justice in the U.S.
We heard from a representative of 504 Healthnet and Luke’s House, a clinic in New Orleans that provides free medical care. Jamila Webb from Birthmark Doula Collective spoke about the incredible work their organization does supporting pregnant and birthing women in Louisiana. She provided insights on the health disparities faced by soon-to-be mothers in Louisiana, particularly black women, and Birthmark’s work to combat the health injustice and health racism that is perpetuated and exacerbated by our profit-driven health care industry.
Michael Lighty, former policy director of the National Nurses Union, gave a captivating talk on Medicare for All and the democratic socialist solutions to the deep inequities of the U.S. healthcare system. The path to health justice will require a direct confrontation with the big pharmaceutical companies, hospital corporations and health insurance CEOs who make billions in profits while most Americans struggle to pay their insurance premiums and cover rising drug costs.
Emphasizing the need for mass action to win the fight for a true universal healthcare system in the U.S, Michael encouraged us look to this year’s teachers’ insurgency to learn how DSA can build a mass movement of working people to win the demand for Medicare for All.
Our next Healthcare for All Committee meeting will be on Thursday 11/15 at 2022 St. Bernard Ave, Building C, 6:30 PM. We invite everyone to join our struggle for healthcare justice in New Orleans and beyond!
The Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, is a nationwide, membership-based political organization that aims to build working class power by employing a variety of different tactics, from electoral organizing to workplace organizing and direct service. DSA is an organization comprised of dozens of local chapters, whose projects, aims, and strategies vary widely from chapter to chapter. Every two years, representatives from DSA chapters gather to participate in a national convention and vote on three priority issues. Last year, the membership voted to center three priorities: electoral strategy, labor organizing, and campaigning for Medicare for All, or M4A.
Medicare for All is a policy that would create universal healthcare, free at the point of service with no co-pays or premiums, for all U.S. residents.
As a socialist organization, we know why we have to take on the fight for M4A. We can name the enemy. High uninsured rates, billing bureaucracy, high pharmaceutical costs, and unevenly distributed health care resources are not individual problems that can be tackled individually. They are interconnected symptoms of a larger problem: a health care system that is designed for a few to get rich when others fall ill.
Read more about DSA New Orleans’ fight for healthcare justice in this month’s issue of Anti-Gravity.
“Hey, y’all changing brake lights?” a man called out to us as we were setting up in the morning. “Yeah!” an organizer called back.
The man, sitting out on his balcony patio further down the block toward Esplanade Avenue, turned to the woman sitting next to him for a moment and then called back out again: “She didn’t believe me!”
On the first anniversary of the Brake Light Clinic, our mutual aid program has begun to become a monthly fixture in Kruttschnitt Park in the 7th Ward. People in the neighborhood know we’re here every month, plenty of people have come by because a friend or a family member told them about it, and some who’ve come back for a second time. At this particular clinic on August 25th, 19 people signed waivers, meaning we had organizers looking at least that many cars, working to solve issues from a simple broken bulb to a broken tailgate. Of those, nine signed up for more information and will be contacted by an organizer.
This speaks to the organizing power of this mutual aid program. Neighbors who’ve had in-depth conversations with our organizers instantly understand why we do this work and why it’s important work, and organizers gain experience in engaging others to want to know more about what we do and maybe even want to get involved.
This clinic had 14 volunteers, and we needed them. There were a number of times where we had up to 4 cars getting lights changed by organizers. One organizer spoke with a community member who had been stopped by the same police officer three nights in a row, on the same stretch of road. The clinic was an opportunity for our organizers to share with folks in the community about how common behavior like this from law enforcement fits into a larger pattern of harassment tactics.
We, the Local Council of the New Orleans Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, have voted to endorse the Nationwide Prison Strike. The strike will begin on August 21st and end on September 9th, the anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising. The call to strike has, so far, been taken up in almost two dozen states across the nation.
We stand in solidarity with the strikers and with all those incarcerated in the United States and beyond, and we support the demands of the strikers, which can be found in full here.
This strike was declared in response to an uprising in Lee Correctional Institute in South Carolina, during which seven people lost their lives fighting for an end to the inhumane conditions and prison slavery that comprise the American carceral state.
There are numerous ways that those on the outside can support the incarcerated strikers, including:
- Contacting your local, state, and federal representatives to ask where they stand on the demands being made by the strikers.
- Spreading word of the strike and remaining informed about the strike by keeping in contact with people you know who are in prison or who have family in prison.
- Reading the Prison Strike Zine.
- Donating to the strike’s official fundraising page
- Amplify the strike using #August21 and #prisonstrike hashtags
Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States and thus, the world. Tens of thousands of Louisianans are currently behind bars and subject to horrifying conditions. Mass incarceration uses the tools of the state–from a violent and utterly unaccountable police force to a legal system in which justice is only granted to those who can afford it–to divide and oppress working people, and especially black, Latinx and indigenous people.The Local Council of DSA New Orleans is proud to endorse the Nationwide Prison Strike of 2018 and to stand in solidarity with the prisoners demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform, the end of prison slavery, and the reinstatement of all incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens’ right to vote.
In solidarity with Charlottesville DSA as well as all impacted by the fascist violence one year ago — and in remembrance of Heather Heyer — New Orleans DSA is using this Medicare for All Weekend of Action to host a Protest Health & Safety Training with the help of our local street medic collective.
For those at that protest who suffered injuries and trauma, health injustice is an urgent, concrete, and ongoing crisis. Even with single-payer, we will need to know how to take care of ourselves and each other. We’ll need to know how to offer healing and wellness to our communities in times of trouble.
Today, we’ll be learning skills to keep each other as safe as possible in compromising situations, and we’ll discuss how to support one another’s wellness on an ongoing basis. We’ll be thinking of Heather and Charlottesville as we do so, and will collect money for the Charlottesville Resilience Fund.
Allison Tebbe and Frances Gill, New Orleans DSA
Our Immigration Working Group formed in mid June to provide support for the Abolish ICE march lead by Congreso and People’s Assembly. Its current purpose is to develop our members’ capacity to support immigrant communities and stand in opposition to borders, police violence, and mass incarceration. At Immigration WG meetings, we focus on educating ourselves through a socialist framework, discussing different tactics of resistance, and how we can plug into active support roles.
The next Immigration WG meeting will be Sunday, August 12th at 5:30 PM, 2022 St. Bernard Ave.
The New Orleans DSA’s monthly Gimme A Brake (Light) event on Saturday, July 28, drew a grateful crowd eager to talk about over-policing in the community and get free brake lights.
The clinic drew a wide array of participants, from a Tulane law student working on criminal justice reform who said, “Socialism is great,” to a pregnant hairdressing business owner and her fiancé, who both needed bulbs replaced. One man was moving to Atlanta with his wife to be closer to his children and needed his brake light fixed so he wouldn’t be pulled over on the long drive.
The New Orleans Democratic Socialists of America stands strongly opposed to the Sewerage and Water Board’s decision to resume water utility shutoffs for accounts the board considers “delinquent.” We believe every person has a right to clean water, a basic human need, and that all utility shutoffs are a violation of this right. These resumed shutoffs will do little to resolve the budget problems that the utility claims prompted this decision. Instead, they will impose needless harm and hardship on the poor and working class people of New Orleans.
The S&WB claims that over 12% of the residences and businesses in New Orleans are currently more than 60 days overdue on paying their bills and that this is causing the utility to run out of money. However, the financial difficulties at S&WB are, by the utility’s own admission, a result of its own mismanagement. The utility acknowledges that the bills people have received are wildly inaccurate due to the utility’s own mishandling of a switch to a new billing software system. In fact, shutoffs were suspended because S&WB was aware of how widespread this problem was and that it was their responsibility. The billing problems have not been resolved. If S&WB acknowledges the widespread inaccuracies of the bills, they have no authority to collect on these inaccurate and inflated bills.