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Not business as usual for DC City Council

Speaker at demonstration outside of City Council chambers

Washington, DC—On Tuesday morning, December 7, a demonstration was organized at the John A. Wilson building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which is right by the White House where DC City Council meets.

The demonstration, brought together by Empower DC and various other organizations, was in response to the massive budget cuts that the City Council is preparing to make while leaving the city elite, who have enriched themselves at the expense of the black community, untouched.
 
The demonstrators supported a 1% tax increase on people who make over 200,000 dollars a year, and were in opposition to the proposed budget cut of at least 50 million dollars for low income earners and small businesses.
 
Given its stance, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) stood in support of this demonstration and participated in it. However, InPDUM was less concerned with the actual tax raise on the rich than with the cuts to the African community.
 
When talking about tax money from the rich in DC, the simple fact that cannot be overlooked is that this country’s wealth was made off of poor and oppressed peoples of the world.
 
So InPDUM says, “No you can’t take anything else from our community, not a single dime.”
Organizers originally planned to hold the demonstration outside of the Wilson building, but due to the weather, the demonstration was taken inside the building on the 5th floor, right outside of the City Council chambers.
 
Soon after, the state — in the form of the police — moved on the demonstration, saying that the demonstration was in violation of fire code and claiming demonstrators couldn’t speak louder than a whisper.
 
In the face of this attempt to abrogate the right to free speech that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that people are supposed to have, InPDUM organizers used this as an opportunity to gain support for an event on December 18 entitled, “Stop the war on the black community.”
 
InPDUM pointed out to people that this is not democracy. The cops tell Africans that we can’t speak in what is supposed to be an African-controlled City Hall. They say Africans must wait silently to go inside, then sit quietly as they make decisions to attack our communities.
 
Expounding on InPDUM’s point, organizers raised the need for our own city hall and organization that really spoke to the needs of African people, including community control, self-determination!
Police then told InPDUM organizers that there is “no soliciting” in city hall and that organizers would have to go outside. InPDUM courageously kept organizing using the high number of people and limited force of police to exercise African people’s democratic right to resist oppression.
 
InPDUM organizers were inspired by Mao Zedong’s understanding in the quote, ‘The guerrillas must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea.”
 
Inside the demonstration itself, the class question became an issue. During organizing efforts, InPDUM spoke to government workers who were mostly black women, The workers began to unite with the politics being put forward, perhaps more than anybody else in the demonstration.
 
Though their leadership said that they had their own agenda, most of the workers obviously did not get the memo. Their middle class, sell-out leadership hounded them about what they were there for and ordered them not to talk to anybody else.
 
This was done in a similar way that a boss or overseer berates workers about staying on the job and not slacking off.
 
Vincent Gray arrogantly asking the people, if they can print money to solve the crisis.
The demonstrators eventually got into the City Council chambers when the council finally came out, after hiding behind closed doors for an hour longer than they were supposed to.
 
Most likely, this was done in a hope that the people who were there to speak on the interests of the community would have to go to their jobs and leave.
 
Although this tactic nearly worked on some of the demonstrators, the council could not buy enough time.
 
Demonstration organizer, Ben Parisi, stated that since Africans were not able to speak outside of City Council chambers, we would speak inside.
 
When the City Council finally hit the gavel, InPDUM member Asafo Yerodin stood up and started reading the statement that had been prepared (read statement below).
 
Before the cops removed InPDUM, organizers were able to make important statements about the attack on welfare and the budget and how they were directly related to the gentrification of the city.
A reported nine other people were removed from the meeting.  
 
InPDUM organizer Asafo Yerodin reading statement making sure it won't be business as usual.
Although the proposal to raise the tax was denied, InPDUM takes this action as a win. It forced City Council member Marion Barry to warn other council members that they would have to deal with their conscience if they vote against programs to help the poor. His warning would have been more accurate if he would have said that the council now has to deal with their constituents as InPDUM grows more powerful daily in DC.
 
It also puts InPDUM as an organization, which truly stands for black power, back in front of the African resistance.
 
InPDUM is creating better relationships with other organizations that it is determined to work with in the future, taking a better stance on the issues that others will learn from, and most importantly InPDUM is building relations with people who are growing to be the true representation of Black Power in DC.

 

Statement prepared for People’s Hearing demonstration

 
The InPDUM is thankful to be a part of this demonstration, which goes hand in hand with the work we have been doing for our event entitled, “Stop the War on the Black Community,” on December 18, at which InPDUM President Diop Olugbala will be speaking. We unite with this demonstration that is challenging the current regime in the City Council, led by mayor-elect Vincent Gray, in their attempts to cut the budget by 50 million dollars for low income and small businesses. This move by the DC government is not the first, and definitely not the last, with talks led by uncle Marion Barry already occurring around cutting the welfare for half the people on it.
 
We recognize this attack as a part of the gentrification of African people in DC. This attack is using economics, police containment, prisons and various other measures to achieve their aim to forcefully remove the black community.
 
We know welfare from the start is an attack on our people from the moment we were placed on it. Welfare was used to create dependency on this government and stifle our aim of self-determination. After a portion of our community was made dependent on the same system that has never had our interests at heart, the attack on the black family deepened. This was orchestrated by increasing the amount of welfare a woman who had children would get if a man was not in the house — even going as far as to exclude households from welfare if there was a man in the house.
 
Now the attack is becoming deeper. They are trying to take welfare out completely. Taking it away until there is nothing left. This is the same thing that they are doing with everything concession that the U.S. government was forced to make due to our struggle for political independence during the Black Power struggle of the ‘60s. 
 
However, we must be clear that the move to give us welfare was a strategy to control us and destroy the organization in our community. In the same way, taking the welfare now is a method to crush a disorganized, economically quarantined community.
 
So InPDUM makes our position, “They say cut back, we say payback!” Go ahead and take the welfare and whatever else you want from the budget, but if you do, give us our reparations!
 
Reparations for Trey Joyner, De’Onte Rawlings and the many others who the so-called “objective” media has not reported on! Reparations for the drugs placed in our community and the many who have been wrongfully imprisoned due to the war on drugs against our community! Reparations for the years and years of underdevelopment in our community! You can’t take what little has been allowed to us without giving what is owed to us!

 

They Say Cut Back, We say Payback!

Take welfare, Give Us Reparations!

Africans have a Right to Resist!

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