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This Is America #76: Sima Lee On Building Power in DC

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The post This Is America #76: Sima Lee On Building Power in DC appeared first on It’s Going Down.

Cover Photo from Ash J

Welcome, to This Is America, June 4th, 2019.

In this episode, we talk with Sima Lee, an anarchist organizer and emcee in the Washington DC area. In our interview we talk about the current #DontMuteDC movement as well as gentrification and the history of Go-go music which lay at the center of it.

We then talk about the ongoing community organizing work that is happening at the Maroon House organized by the Food, Clothing, and Resistance Collective (FCRC), which includes a free store and a growing food program. We end by talking about the potential of these types of mutual aid programs and how they can possibly continue to grow. Maroon House currently hosted a fundraiser to cover their costs, and we encourage people to donate here.

All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting:

  • In El Paso, Texas, at the same detention facility we have talked about in the past where photos of children and adults sleeping outside with thin metal blankets have gone viral, a Homeland Security inspector found that the detention center was imprisoning hundreds more than it is designed to. According to news reports, some migrants have been held in standing room only spaces for days and weeks. As ABC News wrote:

The El Paso Del Norte Processing center housed as many as 900 migrant detainees earlier this month and, the report also found, the facility only has the capacity for 125. “CBP was struggling to maintain hygienic conditions in the holding cells. With limited access to showers and clean clothing, detainees were wearing soiled clothing for days or weeks,” the report said.

  • On Monday Customs and Border Protection announced two more deaths in their custody. As Democracy Now wrote:

A 40-year-old Honduran woman died Monday morning. She collapsed just 25 minutes after being detained near the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, but could not be saved by emergency medical treatment. CBP also said Monday a 33-year-old Salvadoran man died after experiencing apparent seizures following his apprehension Sunday.

Transgender asylum seeker Johana Medina, a refugee from El Salvador, died in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) custody on June 1st, the first day of Pride month. The website Planet Transgender reports that Medina is the 23rd transgender person to die in ICE custody.

Combined, this makes for a total of three deaths in just three days. As Democracy Now noted:

In addition to the recent deaths, at least six migrant children have died over the last eight months after they were arrested crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. Before last year, no child died in immigration custody in over a decade.

Trans asylum seeker Johana Medina dies in ICE custody on the first day of Pride month
Johana Medina
  • Flooding continues across the Midwest and the Great Plains, as levees, dams, and other aging infrastructure continues to break down in the face of unprecedented storms and rising waters. Just this week, a new study on climate change out of Australia concluded that “human civilization” itself is threatened with collapse by 2050 if drastic action is not taken to stop climate change.
  • A new study from Buzzfeed on the social media posting habits of police officers has been published. A large amount of the posts celebrated violence against protesters as well as women, people of color, and migrants. As the report shows:

Of the pages of officers whom researchers… could positively identify, about 1 in 5 of the current officers, and 2 in 5 of the retired officers, made public posts or comments that met that threshold — typically by displaying bias, applauding violence, scoffing at due process, or using dehumanizing language.

Of 328 officers in Philadelphia who posted troubling content, more than a third — 139 officers — appeared to have had one or more federal civil rights lawsuits filed against them, based on name, badge number, and other corroborating details. Of that group, a hundred ended in settlements or verdicts against them or the city.

…several dozen people rallied outside an IHOP in northern Idaho where a local Republican group had been scheduled to host a speech by white supremacist pundit Brittany Pettibone. A rally against Pettibone’s appearance was organized after concerned locals learned she was coming, and then the GOP civic group swiftly cancelled the event [while the protest continued outside].

  • In Brooklyn, banners were dropped in the memory of Erica Garner and her father, Eric Garner.
  • In Salt Lake City, Utah, people crashed corporate PRIDE with banners and speeches.
  • In Buffalo, New York, people marched as a bloc in the PRIDE parade, carrying banners against white supremacy, gentrification, and police.
  • Confederate monuments in Austin, TX were vandalizing with paint and written slogans, such as “RACISTS.”
  • In Northern California, about half of the inmates at a “firecamp,” (a low security unit for inmates who volunteer to work as firefighters), rioted, according to a local news site.
  • Lastly, despite attempts by police and pipeline crews to remove them, the Yellow Finch Tree Sit continues, now on its 273 day of fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline, continues.

Show Solidarity:

  • Member of the FANG Collective is starting a jail stint for taking action in solidarity with migrant detainees who were on hunger strike. Donate here.
  • If you can’t make it to a Running Down the Walls event supporting the Anarchist Black Cross, you can donate here.
  • A queer transfeminist space and its volunteers in Mexico City were violently attacked several days ago and needs help getting back on its feet. Donate here.
  • Antifascist researcher Spencer Sunshine, who has published numerous pieces on It’s Going Down, is launching a Patreon. Sign up here.

Upcoming Events:

 

  • In June be on the lookout for ‘Running Down the Walls’ events happening across the world to benefit Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) chapters.
  • June 6th: In Portland, join pickets in solidarity with the Burgerville Workers Union as they fight for a contract, one year after negotiations started. More info here.
  • June 12th: Info-night in solidarity with Indonesia anarchists in Minneapolis. More info here.
  • June 12th – 19th: Save the Mattole Direct Action Convergence in Northern California. More info here.
  • June 14th-17th: Fight Toxic Prisons conference. Gainesville, Florida. More info here.
  • June 15th – 23rd: Wild Roots, Feral Futures in Southwest Colorado. More info here.
  • June 19th: Mobilize against Nationalist Solutions conference. More info here.
  • June 29th – 30th: Southern Regional Organizing Assembly of the IWW in Richmond, VA. More info here.
  • August 3rd-11th: Institute for Advanced Trouble Making in Worcester, MA. More info here.
  • August 16th-18th: Indigenous Anarchist Convergence in so-called Flagstaff, Arizona. More info here.