Friday, June 25, 2021

We Can’t Wait #votingrights #ForThePeopleAct #EndTheFilibuster #WeCantWait #DC42

Dee and company after our bust. 

"untilfreedom @untilfreedom · Four co-founders of  @untilfreedom  arrested today alongside dozens of activists including  @GreenTheRev   @kai_newkirk   @TaePhoenix   @kifahshah  demanding the Senate #endthefilibuster."
we can't wait....Joanna Oltman Smith Tweeted:
"42 fine folks sat in & were arrested on Capitol Hill today for demanding the end of the archaic Senate procedure preventing #VotingRights #GunSense #ClimateJustice action & so much of what we need to accomplish to protect Americans. #ForThePeopleAct #EndTheFilibuster #WeCantWait"
Joanna Oltman Smith 
"Up on the Hill again. The Resistance is here because the GOP is keeping us all down and soon we won’t have a home from which to protest. #votingrights #climateaction #healthcare."

Tim could not make it. 

We Can’t Wait


Ken called me to ask if I’d like to join him in DC with Center for Popular Democracy zap against the filibuster on June 24th.


CPD Action

“Congress and President Joe Biden made commitments to communities of color during the election, yet we haven't seen enough relief after bearing the brunt of this pandemic for over a year. Now, the filibuster stands in the way of making progress for immigrants, workers, and families across the country. It's time to rise up and demand action from our elected officials. Join us on Thursday in DC to tell Congress and the Biden administration that #WECANTWAIT for progressive change.”

I had been out all week, seeing friends, writing, catching up with Tim and Mel, who often come for these trips. But health and life are getting in the way.

Ken picked me up at 6 AM, once more into the breach, another road trip, south into the strange set of rules, we know as DC, where restrictions and irregularities are omnipresent.

For much of the Obama and Clinton eras, the filibuster ground progress to a halt.

The history of the rule is an ugly one.

Kelsey Snell writes:

“For many Black Democrats, such as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the threat of that blockade recalls a history of senators using the filibuster to block anti-lynching legislation and keep Jim Crow laws on the books.

"Their efforts are designed to gain power for their party by suppressing political participation by minorities," Clyburn said. "Today, Republicans are using the big lie about the 2020 elections as a pretext to advance a litany of minority voting suppression laws."

It is a message that many Democrats have been primed to hear for months.Former President Barack Obama opened the door to ending filibuster in July when he advocated for federal voting rights legislation during his eulogy at the funeral of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., himself a legendary civil rights advocate.

"Let's honor him by revitalizing the law that he was willing to die for. And by the way, naming it the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that is a fine tribute," Obama said, going on to list ways voting rights could be protected.

"And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster — another Jim Crow relic — in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that's what we should do," he said.”

In DC, Jennifer Flynn welcomed us at Union Station at 1030 AM.

Activists from all over the country were there.

I spoke with David, from North Carolina, who spent 36 hours in jail here last time he was arrested here. He told me stories about Chicago 1968 and Berkeley at People’s Park.

And Joanna from Brooklyn, still weary after her vote against the Gowanus Rezone at the community board six.

Linda Sarsour greeted us inside the station, orienting everyone.

We know nothing is going to get done as long as the filibuster is in place, she said.

We can’t wait.

The resistance is back.

I love the theme, we can’t wait.

It seems to refer to MLK’s book, Why We Can’t Wait, “about the nonviolent movement against racial segregation in the United States, and specifically the 1963 Birmingham campaign.

A lot of activists seemed to feel the same way.

A group from Georgia and Alabama talked about flipping Georgia from Red to Blue.

Dee Reed from Birmingham told me about her work registering literally thousands of voters in Georgia.

This was to be her first arrest.

But she didn’t do this work only to watch it die in the Senate at the hands of McConnell’s filibuster.

Why not a talking filibuster?

Something has to change.

Most everything Biden wants to do in the Senate is subject to the 60 vote threshold.

Its not in the constitution.

It protects a minority, which can be a good thing.

But it was not designed to stop all legislation from moving forward.

And just this week, the Republicans used it to block a new voting rights bill in the Senate, escalating a fight over voting rights.

In DC, Make the Road and others were rallying at Union Station.

CPD and New Georgia Project were holding a speak-out at the Supreme Court.

Rev Stephen A Green referred to King’s June 2nd, 1959 remaining asleep during a revolution speech at Morehouse College.

“In thinking of the challenge which this revolution brings to each of us, I am reminded of a familiar story that comes down to us from the pen of Washington Irving. It is the story of Rip Van Winkle.4 The one thing that most of us us we all remember about this story is the fact that Rip Van Winkle slept twenty years. But there is another significant fact in this story that is often over looked. It is the change that took place in that the pictures that [strikeout illegible] on of wall of the little inn in the town in the Hudson town on the Hudson from which Rip went up into the mountains mountains for his long sleep. When he went up the wall had a picture of King George III of England. When he came down it had the picture of another George, George Washington. Rip looking up at the picture of George Washington was completely lost. When he started his quiet sleep America was still under the domination of the British Empire. When he came down she was a free and independent nation. This incident suggest that the most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle was not that he slept twenty years, but that he slept through a great revolution. While he was peacefully snoring up in the mountain a revolution was taking place which completely changed the face of the world. Rip knew nothing about it. He was asleep. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.”

Green equated the voter registration work and street protests as a sort of  new revolution, quoting from Black Panther Freddy Hampton.

After Linda spoke, we walked to the middle of the street in front of the court, locked arms, and sat down for some good trouble.

Dee lead us in Assata Shakur’s call and responce:

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”


And Rev Green lead us in freedom songs:

“Aint gonna let nobody Turn me 'round Turn me 'round Aint gonna let nobody Turn me round I'm gonna keep on walkin' Keep on talkin Marchin into freedom land


“This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Oh, this little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood
I'm going to let it shine
All around the neighborhood..”
As we were getting processed, everyone talked about why they were doing this. 
Tamika Mallory talked about her kids. 
Others talked about Breonna Taylor.
And voting rights. 
And the need to do something in the here and now.
I mentioned the bills that were being blocked. 
And Christine Rudas Ingles, dressed as a suffragette, talked about her Dolly Madison and the need for us all to learn from each other and history.
With a heart condition, David needed a walker. 
Still he was here.  There is no place he’d rather be, he told us, even if this takes him out. 
Others said they were glad to do something, to carry on the work forward instead of looking backward or staying home, to take action, and feel a little of that freedom high, however fleeting. 
Social eros flying, it still feels good to disobey.
Perhaps chastened by the right-wing riot of January 6th, the police seemed to recognize that the non-violent activists deserved a little respect.  We were not assaulting police officers or breaking windows like the right wing rioters.
Still Stokely Carmichael said non-violent civil disobedience only works if your opponents have a conscience: “Dr. King's policy was that nonviolence would achieve the gains for black people in the United States. His major assumption was that if you are nonviolent, if you suffer, your opponent will see your suffering and will be moved to change his heart. That's very good. He only made one fallacious assumption: In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.”
  The verdict is still out of Mitch McConnell. 
Driving home, Ken and I talked about the action and the fleeting image of democracy, we sometimes see here, chasing windmills.
“You wake up one day and democracy has withered away,” said Ken. 
The city is cruel. 
We  saw women arriving in droves with stories of sexual assault and the senate still confirmed Brett Kavanaugh.
But sometimes we push things forward.
We also saw thousands engage in a mass civil disobedience campaign and save the affordable care act reforms. 
Tim helped make that happen, as did David and Christine and Jennifer the thousands of others who fought it. 
“I still think we are in an incredibly precarious situation,” Ken continued. “People breathed a sigh of relief after Biden was elected. Yet, we’re not out of the woods. We’re still in a difficult position from voting rights to healthcare to the environment.”
He worried that provisions for the climate were being left out of the senate infrastructure deal. 
And on we drove, through a bumps in the traffic.
We swapped stories and listened to old dance anthems, Iggy Pop, and 
Damaged Goods by Gang of Four:
The change will do you good
I always knew it would
Sometimes I'm thinking that I love you
But I know it's only lust
Your kiss so sweet
Your sweat so sour…”
And on we talked about the ennui of newness, capitalism turning ideas into commodities, people being priced out, and movements always shifting. 
Alexis is moving. 
Tim can’t come to as many rallies now.
LAK is already upstate.
Ken has seen it before, when Keith Harring and Basquiat and Wojnarowicz were still around, the illness and art and displacement, changing everything, with the center gravity moving from the East Village to Brooklyn.
And the movements continue, history still keeping us up at night, driving back.  


As usual, Ken Schles took the best pics of the day:

Ken Schles writes:

We can’t wait.
…because healthcare is a human right.
We can’t wait.
…because Black lives matter and we won’t tolerate Jim Crow voting laws.
We can’t wait.
…because a woman has bodily autonomy and the right to choose.
We can’t wait.
…because the physical laws that dictate the course of climate change are not amenable to oil industry lobbyists or negotiation.
We can’t wait.
…because dark and dirty money shouldn’t determine electoral outcomes.
We can’t wait.
…because LGBTQIA rights are human rights.
We can’t wait.
…because a minority party wants to hold our government hostage and that should not be allowed.
We can’t wait.
…because the filibuster is a tool of white supremacy and corporate greed.
We can’t wait.
…because we need to tax the rich and corporations need to pay their share.
We can’t wait.
…because none of us are free until all of us are free!
Why do YOU think we shouldn’t wait any longer to end the filibuster?
📸June 24, 2021 42 citizens were arrested in front of #scotus advocating to end the filibuster. Until Freedom CPD Action #endthefilibuster #killthefilibuster

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