Yo Larry! Drop All Charges Against ReeAnna Segin!

Socialist Alternative Philadelphia stands in solidarity with Philly Socialists in demanding that the DA’s office drop all charges against ReeAnna Segin.

At Philadelphia’s Pride parade on Sunday June 10th, a trans woman and Philly Socialists member named ReeAnna Segin was arrested at 12th and Locust for allegedly attempting to light a Blue Lives Matter flag on fire. She was held overnight in a men’s prison before being released on bail. Felony charges against Segin have since been dropped by the DA’s office, but misdemeanor charges remain.

Despite US courts establishing in 1989 that flag burning is legally protected free speech, there is a longstanding pattern of law enforcement using criminal and civil ordinances to arrest, detain, and otherwise intimidate and harass people exercising this right. DA Larry Krasner ran on a platform of not only ending mass incarceration but also declining to prosecute cases that are “insignificant” or that lack sufficient evidence. This week, Krasner used the events at Pride to pull himself some good press when he dropped felony charges against ReeAnna. The real truth of the matter is that they still face time in court, fees, and possible jail time – all of which demonstrates that Krasner is absolutely not living up to his campaign promises. We demand that Krasner drop ALL charges against ReeAnna.

We support ReeAnna  and are sympathetic to her cause. Her brutal treatment by Philly police is unacceptable, as is the fact that her message has, only days after the event, become essentially invisible in mainstream news outlets. In light of these issues and others, we continue to call for tactical and strategic discussions about organizing well-defended protests and non-violent direct actions. These are essential to communicating our messages widely and winning real concessions from the establishment. Socialist Alternative has consistently argued for well-organized, disciplined non-violent mass action that disrupts the status quo – with democratic accountable planning that can put forward clear messaging and demands to get the broadest support possible.

Do Cops Make Pride ‘Safe’?

The establishment is attempting to win their case in the court of public opinion by arguing that that ReeAnna’s actions ‘were endangering others’. The PPD has plenty of resources at hand for de-escalating and diffusing situations on the street, but instead responded by brutally tackling, detaining, and arresting a woman attempting to exercise her right to free speech. The ‘official’ role of the cops at Pride – and other similar events – is to provide public safety, street closures, and ‘crowd control.’  It is obvious that the PPD is far from filling their stated mission to ‘protect and serve’ the people of Philadelphia. Like the recent incident at Starbucks it is clear that the first response of the PPD is still too often lethal violence, arrests and hard felony charges to ‘solve the problem.’

The organized violence used against ReeAnna needs to be seen in the larger context of the Philly PD’s long history of corruption scandals, including outright theft of drugs & money, wrongful arrest, murder, prostitution, and lying on the witness stand to help convict and imprison innocent working class people. People of color and other marginalized and oppressed communities bear the brunt of this ‘police protection.’ All this is in addition to the large annual number of ‘officer-involved shootings’, many of which result in the deaths of young black men. We understand that our community’s relationship with the police is complicated: theft, violent crime, and public safety are real issues in working class neighborhoods across the city. DA Krasner pledged in his election campaign to prosecute ‘bad cops,’ but we need to make this concrete. We need a democratically accountable civilian police review board with full authority to discipline and fire racist, sexist, transphobic, corrupt and violent police officers.

What kind of Pride do we want?

This incident begs the question of what the relationship of the organizers of Philly Pride is to the political establishment, and what kind of Pride we want. The roots of the Pride movement are not in sterilized celebrations, or miles of corporate floats distributing t-shirts. The Pride movement began with trans women of color literally putting their bodies on the line when police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City. To this day, trans women and people of color are among the most vulnerable when it comes to treatment by cops and the criminal “justice” system. The organizers’ reliance on the police to provide security and crowd control for Pride celebrations in Philadelphia means that those same people who inspired the Pride movement 40 years ago now cannot safely attend the very event that is supposed to raise them up and celebrate them. The fact that a young woman’s journey to Pride ended up with her being incarcerated for 24 hours in a men’s prison shows how much work we have left to do.

Forward Not Backwards!

In the face of Trump’s reactionary administration, attacks on LGBTQ and other marginalized communities are escalating both in terms of direct physical violence and in terms of access to basic human rights such as healthcare and housing. The Philly LGBTQ community has certainly earned the right to celebrate out and proud in the streets, but while the establishment and organizers seem to want Pride to be apolitical, the LGBTQ community still desperately needs space and opportunity to organize and resist.

The organizers of Philly Pride need to find ways to keep the community safe that do not involve fleets of cops. We do not want a police presence at Pride, but we recognize that developing a structure in which the community is able to provide its own marshalls and other safety staff is no small task. The organizers of Pride would do well by convening an open meeting in which all interested community members are welcome to discuss the way forward. These decisions should be made with the democratic participation of working people in the LGBTQ community, paying special attention to those whose lives and livelihoods are most at risk in the presence of the police.

We have no desire to “take Pride back to Stonewall,” we have all come too far, but the radical roots of Pride show the way forward. We need an approach to LGBTQ liberation based not in scattered individual actions, but in struggle and mass movements that are prepared to harness our collective power by using rallies, marches, strikes, and non-violent civil disobedience.

  • DA Krasner Immediately Drop All Charges Against ReeAnna Segin!
  • Philly Pride organizers should rapidly convene an open community meeting to democratically discuss the issues raised by this incident
  • The Mayor’s Office and DA’s office transparently develop clear procedures and protocols that direct the PPD on how to treat LGBTQ  people in the criminal ‘justice’ system with respect and dignity
  • Retrain all Philly police officers in non-violent de-escalation tactics
  • For a democratically accountable civilian police review board with full authority to discipline and fire racist, sexist, transphobic, corrupt and violent police officers.

#Justice4ReeAnna

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Krasner Wins! Keep Building The Resistance!

Larry Krasner’s victory tonight was a decisive show of support from the people of Philadelphia for much needed changes in our broken criminal justice system. By taking a bold stand on the issues Larry showed that it is possible to win running a strong progressive campaign. The local activists who poured their heart and soul into this campaign deserve a huge amount of credit for this significant victory.

Screenshot 2017-05-16 23.42.12

The election of a progressive DA, while a positive step, is only a start. One person cannot be expected to change the political culture of the city establishment. We need to keep organizing to put pressure on the whole system of mass incarceration and racist policing. We need to be vigilant for any dirty tricks from the city’s political machines between now and the November general election. We need to do the hard work of building independent political power linking ‘movement building’ to electoral politics to win real system wide reforms to improve the quality of life for working people. We need a party of the 99%.

 


Keep Building The Resistance!

Friday 5/19/2017  6pm

1315 Spruce St – William Way LGBT Community Center Ballroom

Confirmed Speakers To Date:

Andres Celin – Organizer with Youth United For Change*

Erika Almiron Niz – Executive Director Juntos*

Klyde Breitton – Organizer with Philly Tenants Union and member of Philly Socialists

Marty Harrison – TUHNA Executive Board Member*, 15 Now activist, and Member of Socialist Alternative

*ID Only

Build a Movement in the Streets To Win Philly DA Candidate Krasner’s Platform!

It’s Time To Build a Party of the 99%!

This Tuesday, May 16th, registered Democratic voters will decide the next District Attorney (DA) of Philadelphia amid a national progressive media spotlight. The former DA Seth Williams resigned in March after federal indictments revealed a frenzy of insider pay-to-play schemes leaving an open field. The seven way race now involves over $1.45 million from the coffers of billionaire George Soros and almost $250,000 from local Building Trade unions.

The November election is usually a simple coronation for the primary winner. A symptom of our one-party politics in Philly where low-turnout  elections mean political machines make decisions on winners long before votes are cast. But this primary election is different. It is taking place as millions of working people across the US continue to search for ways to resist the Trump administrations racist right wing agenda and the normally routine DA’s race has been transformed by the campaign of local civil rights lawyer Larry Krasner who has built a national reputation with his spirited defense of protesters from the 2000 Republican National Convention through Occupy Philly, Black Lives Matter, and the recent anti-corporate DNC demonstrations last summer.

Krasner’s platform calling for an end to mass incarceration, the death penalty, defense of civil liberties, and resistance to Trump’s right populism echoes the bold progressive messaging of Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential primary run. He has linked his campaign to ongoing struggles in Philadelphia around education funding, stop and frisk, and the school to prison pipeline. His campaign has inspired Philly’s progressive community, caught the imagination of thousands of new activists, and re-ignited hopes of transforming the Democratic Party from within and building a new progressive majority in city hall.

But we know the machinery of mass incarceration cannot be dismantled from within the DA’s office so what kind of movements will it take to end mass incarceration?  The reforms won by the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s through the 1970’s resulted from mass mobilizations of working class people seeking radical change. From the lunch counter sit-ins across North Carolina to the March on Selma, to the mass demonstrations and strikes against the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands wrested basic civil rights from a racist system through determined fighting tactics. We need to base ourselves on that fighting history. We need sit-ins, marches, demonstrations, and strike action to build a broad movement that both stands against Trump’s right wing policies, and fights for positive change for working people and all those under attack.

But we also need to do more than protest. We need to do the hard work of building independent political power, and link ‘movement building’ to electoral politics to win real reforms to improve the quality of life for working people. Like Bernie Sanders, the energy around  Krasner’s campaign shows what we could do if we had our own political party. A party that takes no corporate money and whose candidates pledge to take only an average working class wage.

Many people fighting to transform the Democratic Party into a real progressive force agree with this, but think that it makes more sense to take over the Democratic machine. We understand that this seems easier than building a new party. The Democrats have structure, power and money. But history has shown us that time and time again as local movements try to change the Democrats they come into conflict with the local and national corporate leadership of the party that has no intention of letting progressive movements find their full expression, or they are simply bought off and co-opted, and drowned in the the sea of corporate dollars. Historically, the Democratic Party has proven a graveyard of the mass movements needed to carry through bold progressive demands of working class people. The $1.45 million in super pac money that was dumped into the race to support Krasner is a warning to the movement of the resources that can be brought to bear against progressive politics if we do not build an independent base of support in our communities.

Philadelphia has proud progressive traditions, and it has been the birthplace of many social movements that have transformed US politics. Socialist Alternative argues that now is the time to start building a new independent party of the 99% free from the corporate ties strangling progressive reforms. Philadelphia’s progressive left, unions, and community organizations can come together to strategically run independent candidates for local and state offices that would unapologetically fight for the working people of this city. This is not an abstract problem, and we understand that there are serious procedural barriers for independent candidates in Pennsylvania. But with serious preparation and strategy, by combining the strength of progressive forces in this city, and mobilizing the active logistical and financial support of working people around a united program that addresses our needs, these barriers can be overcome without relying on George Soros’ Super PAC for financial support.

Socialist Alternative wholeheartedly supports the demands for ending mass incarceration and defending the civil liberties of all people. While we cannot ‘endorse’ his campaign, we wish Larry Krasner luck, and we will be fighting alongside him and all those working in his campaign to win the reforms he is fighting for. Win or lose we should maintain the local structures and activist networks built during the campaign to continue to broadly mobilize around the demands and to be a part of building a new independent party.