#OccupyICE_PHL

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If We Don’t Get It! Shut It Down!

On the evening of July 2, 2018 the Center City ICE office at 8th and Cherry was shut down by – a coalition of a Occupy ICE PHL dozen left and progressive organizations, as well as myriad unaffiliated activists. Members of Socialist Alternative were on the ground from the initial planning discussions to the final arrests. Though representing a wide range of political tendencies, these activists were able to find sufficient common ground – politically and literally – to occupy a patch of concrete and asphalt outside the Philadelphia ICE Office for 4 days around demands to abolish ICE, close the Berks detention facility and end PARS data sharing.

In less than a week, Occupy ICE PHL changed the conversation throughout the entire city. Under pressure from the protests the Mayor’s office has agreed to meet with Juntos, New Sanctuary, and other Organizations later this week. The movement has pushed Mayor Kenney into a corner, exposing the shallowness of his claims that Philadelphia is a “sanctuary city”. As a progressive Democrat, Kenney enjoys the glow of dressing himself up as “the resistance” to the Trump presidency. Yet he signed off on a contract with ICE, granting access to the city’s legal database, known as PARS, and effectively assisting ICE to deport and detain immigrants in Philadelphia.

Since the final clearing of the occupation at 8th and Cherry by Police on July 5th, a second occupation was established at City Hall, and the original coalition has broadened to include activists attracted during the course of the protests. This coalition continues to meet to plan next steps and an escalating series of actions. Join us to discuss next steps for the movement!

Open Planning Meeting: Tuesday July 10th 6:30 – 9pm

Friends Center 1501 Cherry St

If you can’t come to the meeting but are interested in getting involved drop by the occupation at City Hall and let us know!

  • You can also call the Mayors office and tell him that you support the demand to end all cooperation with ICE. Call 215-686-2181
  • What to say: Hello, my name is ________  and I am calling on the city to end all cooperation with ICE. Specifically I support the demand that Philadelphia end its PARS data sharing contract. The city government’s relationship with ICE is unacceptable and I cannot support it.
  • Sign this Petition to end PARS

Occupy ICE PHL is an impressive uniting of the Philly Left, but to be truly powerful, this movement must reach out and engage the vast majority of working class people and their organizations without compromising on demands or politics. We want our elected officials in City Council and the Mayor’s office to make clear where they stand. Among the forces we need to mobilize are the unions, churches, and progressive community organizations. This means forcing the democratic establishment to make good on the promise of being a sanctuary city, even if it means dragging them kicking and screaming to fulfill the demands of this campaign.

A real sanctuary city would be one where all people, regardless of legal status, could access affordable housing, living wage jobs, quality public education, professional day care and excellent health care. To get there, we need real “resistance”— action which unapologetically disrupts business as usual built on the foundation of mass working class movements and effectively impedes Trump’s brutal immigration policy and deportation tactics.

  • Stop the Deportations: Abolish ICE

  • End Family Detention: Close Berks Detention Center

  • No Cooperation with ICE in Philly: End Philly’s PARS data sharing contract

Make Philly a Real Sanctuary City for the Working Class!

Sign Up To Get Involved!

#abolishICE
#ShutDownBerks
#EndPARS
#EndFamilyDetention
#ExpandSanctuary
#Juntos

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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

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

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