Philly Socialist Alternative to Kenney and Council: #MakeAmazonPay

As soon as Amazon announced its intention to build a second corporate headquarters outside Seattle, elected officials from across the nation predictably responded to its ‘request for proposals’ by tripping over each other in a race to offer massive public subsidies and tax incentives to woo Amazon. Philadelphia’s elected officials from both the Democratic and Republican Parties have behaved no differently.

Last week, Mayor Jim Kenney slavishly tweeted, “We think Philadelphia would be a PRIME location for Amazon that would make people SMILE! Look forward to submitting a proposal!”

This week, the Kenney administration had taxpayers buy a plane ticket for a city envoy to visit Seattle and “help understand Amazon culture” and demonstrate our city is “serious about competing for the headquarters.”

 At-Large Republican Councilman David Oh introduced a bill to City Council on Thursday that “reduces the business net income tax to zero” of relocating “mega-businesses” like Amazon that employ over 50,000 workers.

Amazon is worth $460 billion, and its CEO Jeff Bezos will soon be the wealthiest man in the world. Bezos’ personal net worth is $84.4 billion dollars. He is one of 8 men who control half of the world’s wealth. Bezos and Amazon have accrued this massive wealth by ruthlessly exploiting workers in the US and abroad, crushing attempts to unionize, using its monopoly power to gobble up real estate and push up land value and housing costs in Seattle, and pushing small business owners out of markets.

In any city it expands to, Bezos and Amazon can afford to pay business taxes, income taxes, and property taxes. They can also afford to pay decent wages, and provide healthcare benefits and pensions for all of their workers. Instead of ‘wooing’ Amazon here with the promise of low wages, subsidies and tax breaks, Philadelphia’s political establishment should be taking the fight for a $15hour minimum wage, statewide single payer healthcare, and full funding for our schools to Harrisburg and DC. As badly as we need to address structural unemployment and poverty in Philly, spending millions of public dollars in exchange for a ‘promise’ to bring thousands of low wage, part time, dead end jobs will only result in increased corporate profits at our expense.

We need to stop to the nationwide corporate tax rate race-to-the-bottom. When cities compete against each other to offer corporations like Comcast and Amazon tax incentives, the big losers are our own residents. One third of Philadelphians live in poverty and our schools face enormous budget deficits. SEPTA is unreliable and one of the most expensive public transit system in the country. Public housing is being cut while gentrification and a shortage of affordable housing is pushing us out of our neighborhoods and threatening low-income residents all over the city. Should we really be competing with Chicago, Denver and Baltimore over who can give Amazon the most public money?

When establishment politicians like Mayor Kenney and Councilman David Oh offer public money that should be going to schools, housing, and city services to wealthy corporations for private profit, it is clear they stand with corporations and not with working class people.

Building power and organization outside the Democratic Party. 

In Seattle, Socialist Alternative City Council member Kshama Sawant,  led the fights that passed a $15 minimum wage and a tax on the wealthy. Sawant and SA are now building a coalition to campaign for affordable housing and supporting the independent Seattle City Council campaign of DSA member John Grant.

In Minneapolis coming off of the recent win for $15 minimum wage, Socialist Alternative member Ginger Jentzen is running for city council as an independent on a platform of tenants rights, affordable housing, taxing the rich to fund city services, and resisting the Trump agenda.

In Philly, we are working to build real alternatives to the establishment political machines. We need independent organizations of our own to fight back against corporate hegemony and poverty in our city. We need a political party of the 99% that can run independent candidates for local offices, and not just any candidates but fighting, accountable, independent candidates that take no corporate cash.

Yo Kenney! Say NO to Amazon’s economic coercion and demand better for our workers for the right to do business in our city:

  • A moratorium on state and local public tax subsides to corporate profits
  • A $15 minimum wage
  • For permanent full-time jobs with a future
  • Free higher education and job training
  • Free on site childcare options for employees
  • Full union rights for all employees  
  • for a tax on the wealthy to fund public schools, public transit and affordable housing.

 

“The solution is in no way to turn away from technological innovation, the logic of economies of scale, or ease of access to goods and services. Instead, we need to unionize, and to take these behemoths into democratic public ownership, so that they are run not for profit for a few, but in the interests of the majority of working people and of society. However, this can be achieved only by building powerful movements that are independent of the politicians and parties that have aided and abetted corporations like Amazon. In Seattle, our movements need to continue to build the fight to end homelessness, make housing affordable for all, and fully fund social services.” – Kshama Sawant Seattle City Council

#MakeAmazonPay

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Mayor Kenney – It’s Time To Confront Racist Cops

  • Prosecute Killer Cops
  • End Stop and Frisk Now
  • Real Community Control Of The Police

The white supremacist demonstrations and the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville have laid bare what people of color in Philadelphia already know: working people – and specifically Black and Brown people – face systemic violence on a daily basis in the United States.

From open police aggression in the street, to the structural defunding of urban public schools districts, to deportations in immigrant communities, to slave labor in prisons and hyper-low wages in the service sector, working class people in America struggle to survive. Overt racism and the resurgence of white supremacist organizing is not confined to the South. And racism itself isn’t confined to the KKK and the politicians like Donald Trump who directly abet them.

Structural racism is built into our society’s laws and the political actions of our elected officials at every level. Therefore, when we fight white supremacy, we must bring the fight home to Philadelphia. Our struggle must place demands on people like Mayor Jim Kenney, Police Commissioner Richard Ross and District Attorney Kelly Hodge. And as workers, activists, unions and faith-based organizations, we must build the mass movements in the streets to press these elected officials to change the PPD without delay.

Just this summer, we have lost two Black brothers to police violence here in Philadelphia. On August 11th, three police officers shot and killed handicapped man Tyreas Carlyle in North Philly in front of his grandmother. On June 8th, Officer Ryan Pownall murdered David Jones in Juniata as Jones fled. Pownall has a track record of reckless behavior. Seven years before murdering David Jones, Pownall paralyzed Black Philadelphian Carnell Williams-Carney by shooting him in the back. In another recent case, there  is a pending federal lawsuit against Officer Pownall for use of excessive force and unlawful arrest for his actions during a routine traffic stop in Philly in 2014. Pownall is still on the PPD payroll. He has not been terminated from his job, let alone tried for murder.

In the midst of this police violence, Mayor Kenney has called Philly “diverse and inclusive.” Democratic City Councilwoman Helen Gym has endorsed the removal of the infamous Frank Rizzo statue. More politicians will join her.  Socialist Alternative supports the removal of overt symbols of white supremacy, but words and symbols are just the beginning.

Philadelphians urgently need concrete, immediate reforms in the PPD to ease beatings, harassment and killings at the hands of police in our neighborhoods.

With the combined efforts of the labor movement, faith-based organizations, community  organizations, the families of victims of police brutality, socialists and other left forces, we can shut down the white supremacist right, and we can win justice for David Jones and Tyreas Carlyle. We can stop the PPD’s systemic violence against working people, poor, and specifically black and brown people. We can build a broad multi-racial, multi-gendered, working-class movement to fight for racial justice, a 15/hour minimum wage, decent housing, school funding, and all the economic and social issues challenging Philly’s working class communities.

Join Socialist Alternative and Sign the petition

HERE

to Mayor Kenney, Commissioner Ross, and Interim District Attorney Hodge to demand that they:       

  • Prosecute Killer Cops –  The State Attorney General and District Attorney must move forward as quickly as possible with a transparent independent investigation into the murders of David Jones and Tyreas Carlyle, who was handicapped. We demand the prosecution of Police Officer Ryan Pownall, holding him accountable for his actions on June 8th and other documented misconduct on the job. We demand the prosecution of all 3 police officers who killed Tyreas Carlyle: Officer Anthony Carapucci, Officer Jason Keen, and Officer Christopher Rycek
  • End Stop and Frisk Now-  ‘Stop and Frisk’ is a racist police policy Mayor Kenney and Police Commissioner Ross can end today. Stop and Frisk means police can search anyone at any time for any reason. The policy leaves communities of color exposed to the racial biases of individual police officers. Mayor Kenney ran on eliminating the practice upon his election, and it’s far past time for him to act.
  • Institute Real Community Control Of The Police- Give the Police Advisory Commission real authority to investigate, discipline and fire racist and corrupt police officers. Philadelphia needs an accountable, democratically elected community oversight board with full powers over the police.

#Justice4DJ #Justice4Tyreas

We Will Fight In Your Honor – And We Will Win

We extend our sympathy and solidarity to the IWW and to friends and family of Heather Heyer, the IWW member who was murdered in Charlottesville VA by racist thugs while protesting the ‘Unite The Right’ rally.

/Update 8-16-17: as events have unfolded over the past several days there are conflicting reports concerning Heather’s membership in the IWW. We based our initial statement on various news sources and social media statements. We regret any additional confusion our statement may have caused. However whether or not Ms. Heyer was an IWW member, an individual activist, or an member of another left organization, our solidarity and commitment to her memory remains the same. An injury to one is an injury to all. /

While we can and should continue to discuss and debate the best tactics and strategy to build the broadest possible fightback against the racist right forces who have been emboldened by Trump, we have to ask ourselves why was the organized left and the black clergy left alone to mobilize against the KKK and the fascists? The rally in Charlottesville should have been met with massive mobilizations, demonstrations and the threat of strikes. Where were the progressive Democratic Party politicians, unions and community organizations that have the organizational capacity to lead the way against the far right and organize mass protests to stop this hate?

Back home in Philly the war against the working class continues. Developers are intent on turning our city into a playground for the rich. Foreclosures continue, rents are rising and working people are being forced out of neighborhoods where their families have lived for generations, our minimum wage has been locked at $7.25 for years, and fiscal crisis lurks under the surface of every city and school district budget.

While our attention is on the events in Charlottesville lets not forget that the Philly Police have shot and killed 2 unarmed men in the past 2 months. Lets have our vigils and grieve for the fallen, and then continue to fight against the systemic violence against working people, poor, and specifically black and brown people, by building a broad multi-racial, multi-gendered, working-class movement to fight for racial justice, a 15/hour minimum wage, decent housing, school funding, and all the economic and social issues challenging Philly’s working class communities. We have work to do.

Tyreas Carlyle, David Jones, Heather Heyer – We will fight in your honor and we will win.

 

#Justice4DavidJones #Justice4TyreasCarlyle

SA at the Refuse Fascism Rally

 

Socialist Alternative stands shoulder to shoulder with all individuals, groups, and organizations who are protesting, organizing and building working class power to drive out Trump and defeat his administration’s right wing agenda. Let’s make Philly a real Sanctuary City for all working people.

 

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The Trump administration is the most racist, reactionary, vicious, climate denying, pro business, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, anti working-class administration in decades. Along with the chaos and instability coming from the White House, the Republicans have been emboldened at the state and city level to carry out attacks on immigrants, women, lgbtq people, unions, worker health and safety, wages, public education, unions, and environmental regulations.

Trump’s election has invigorated a number of genuinely fascist and semi-fascist forces, the KKK, various Neo-Nazi and white nationalist organizations, and a semi-fascist layer growing out of the forces of the so-called “alt right.” The raised profile and activity of these reactionary organizations is a sharp warning to all progressive forces, unions, targeted minorities, and working people of the need to build mass action to defend our communities and push forward positive progressive demands that will unite the broadest possible movement to defeat Trumpism

Protesting can be an important expression of power that shows our will to fight back. It can help us build our networks and organizational capacity, but to win we need to engage with the millions of working people going through their everyday lives. We need to advocate unity of our daily struggles, stand by each other, and speak in language that is honest but relevant to our lived experience. Through community, neighborhood, and workplace organizing we can build the capacity to organize mass protests, direct actions, civil disobedience and strikes to take down this vicious right-wing administration. But we can’t stop there, we need to build an independent party of the 99% – that takes no corporate money- that can take on, not only the fascists, but Trump and the whole billionaire class. We need to fight, not only the far right, but the conditions that allow the far right to grow. The fight against fascism and the far right is 90% a political struggle:

  • We need an end to ICE raids and police persecution of our immigrant Sisters and Brothers. We need to go beyond simple ‘non cooperation’ with ICE and use our city’s resources to actively defend our immigrant communities. We need a real sanctuary city.
  • We need an end to ‘Stop and Frisk’ now #MayorKenny. We need an end to racial profiling by the police and all government agencies. We demand no tolerance for police and other law enforcement officers who openly espouse racist or white supremacist ideas.
  • We need an end to racist police murders. We demand fully independent investigations, with subpoena powers, in all cases of police killings. We need a real democratically elected community oversight board with full powers to subpoena, hire and fire police officers.
  • We stand with our LGBTQ comrades, fighting discrimination and violence, and all forms of homophobia and transphobia.
  • We must fight discrimination based on race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, and all other forms of prejudice. We need equal pay for equal work.
  • We stand with workers organizing and striking for union rights.
  • We need decent jobs and a $15/hour minimum wage.
  • We need full funding for our neighborhood schools. We call for the immediate abolition of the School Reform Commission and the institution of a democratically elected school board that represents students, parents and staff.
  • We need to invest in rehabilitation, job-training, and living-wage jobs, not prisons! Abolish the death penalty.
  • We need clean air, water and access to decent food. We need our polluted neighborhoods cleaned up, the lead out of our water, and the elimination of ‘food deserts’ in our city.
  • We need to tax the rich, the unimaginably wealthy corporations, and the big property developers who are making huge profits gentrifying our neighborhoods and turning our city into a playground for the wealthy. We need decent housing, community control of development and strong tenant rights protections. We need city services, social workers, youth, and community centers to strengthen the solidarity and social bonds in our neighborhoods.
  • We need to organize to stop Trumpcare and the gutting of Medicaid. We need access to affordable quality healthcare, we need improved Medicare for all, regardless of legal status, employment, or income.

Whether or not we face the immediate threat of a fascist government is debatable, but we take the vicious attacks on working people, immigrants, women, people of color, and LGBTQ people by Trump’s administration very seriously. Socialist Alternative stands shoulder to shoulder with all individuals, groups, and organizations who are protesting, organizing and building working class power to drive out Trump and defeat his administration’s right wing agenda. Let’s make Philly a real Sanctuary City for all working people.

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.

Continuing the Resistance after MayDay!

Making Philly a real sanctuary city.

Join us for a discussion on tactics and strategy to resist Trumps agenda and win.

The Trump administration is the most racist, reactionary, vicious, climate denying, pro business, anti working-class administration in decades. Along with the chaos and instability coming from White House, the Republicans have been emboldened at the state and city level to carry out attacks on immigrants, women, lgbtq people, unions, worker health and safety, wages, public education, unions, and environmental regulations.

The response by millions of youth and working class people to these attacks has been magnificent. Within hours of Trump’s election victory, we took to the streets to declare that we would resist. The ongoing wave of mass protests since Trump’s inauguration have underscored the complete lack of a mandate for his right wing policies. The temporary defeat of the Muslim ban and the departure of key cabinet appointments have shown that the Trump agenda can be beaten back.

But the fight is far from over. This administration will keep pushing its agenda as we saw last week when congress voted once more on repealing  the Affordable Care Act, this time passing it on to the Senate. Even more alarming, racist hate groups are seizing the political moment to come out of their holes and begin organizing in public, raising their banner and taking to the streets.

Philadelphia has declared itself a sanctuary city, that it will not cooperate with ICE on detaining suspected undocumented workers, and Mayor Kenny and City Council have said they will stand firm and defend it. This is a great first step, but to make Philly a real sanctuary city we have to go beyond simple non-cooperation with ICE and use our city’s resources to actively defend our immigrant sisters and brothers. We have to make Philly a real sanctuary city for all working people:

  • No one has sanctuary without a living wage to provide for themselves and their family. Philadelphia needs $15 and a union.
  • No one has sanctuary without a stable home. Philadelphia needs a massive program to rehab its crumbling housing stock, community control of development and strong tenant rights protections.
  • No one has sanctuary without access to quality healthcare. Philadelphia needs Improved Medicare for All.
  • No one has sanctuary without high quality public education. Philadelphia needs fair funding formula and a democratically elected school board.
  • No one has sanctuary without an end to the militarization of the police, mass incarceration, private prisons and the school-to-prison pipeline. Philadelphia needs a real democratically elected police review board with full powers to subpoena, hire and fire.

When we fight together to make Philadelphia a real sanctuary for immigrants, we make it a better city for all working people.


Join Us!

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