Informality often makes something beautiful. A rapper freestyling. A jazz musician improvising. A drag queen lip-syncing. Their organic, in-the-moment, uncodified nature is a huge reason they captivate and excite. Street vending is supposed to be the informal version of commerce. In this country, lawmakers and law enforcement have made attempts to codify street vending, and usually it gets pretty ugly, pretty quickly. Maybe this summer in Washington, D.C. will be the start of something different. After years of street vendor-led organizing, earlier this year D.C. Council Members unanimously passed legislation overhauling the District’s street vendor regulations.
Washington D.C. – Over 2,000 climate activists, frontline leaders, and environmental justice organizations in over 65 locations in more than 25 US states joined together from June 8–11th for a national week of action to send a strong message to President Biden: no more fossil fuels. With the approval of Willow Project, fast-tracking of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and rollbacks for environmental protections, the US is doubling down on it’s role as the world’s top oil and gas producer at a time when scientists could not be clearer that stopping fossil fuels is the only way to avert global climate catastrophe.
In October, the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office announced the largest civil award in a housing discrimination case in U.S. history. The lawsuit was filed in 2020 against D.C. real estate firms DARO Realty, DARO Management Services and Infinity Real Estate, LLC, which oversaw investing for companies. A judge ruled that DARO would have to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought by holders of Section 8 vouchers, a federally-funded payment system that allows low-income people to rent in the private market. What’s more, DARO had to dissolve its property management business and certain members of leadership who were named as defendants were permanently banned from owning property management businesses in D.C.
President Joe Biden surprised fellow Democrats when he reversed course and announced he would support a Republican resolution to nullify an overhaul of crime laws passed by the Washington, DC, Council. While Congress has the authority to override DC legislation, it hasn’t done so in more than 30 years, making this move a dangerous new precedent at a time when Republicans are eager to use state power to swat down any progressive advances. Some observers (Slate, 3/3/23; Popular Information, 3/7/23) called out Biden’s hypocrisy. The president’s move comes after he had both endorsed DC statehood and publicly opposed the resolution (2/6/23), arguing that it was a “clear [example] of how the District of Columbia continues to be denied true self-governance and why it deserves statehood.”
Washington, D.C. — Over 400 labor and civil society organizations outlined shared priorities for the pending Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) trade agreement in a letter sent to President Biden. The letter comes shortly before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is expected to introduce U.S. proposals for IPEF’s labor, environment and digital trade chapters during a key negotiating round being held later this month in Bali, Indonesia. “A wide range of organizations across the United States are ready to fight for an Indo-Pacific trade deal that furthers the President’s vision of creating a new model for trade and international cooperation that prioritizes working people, combats global climate change and reins in Big Tech abuses,” said Arthur Stamoulis.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), and its Center for Protest Law & Litigation, filed a federal lawsuit against the District of Columbia challenging the Metropolitan Police Department’s “repressive and violent tactics including the authorized indiscriminate use of ‘less lethal’ projectile weapons against peaceful protestors and bystanders, gratuitously and without notice or warning and in order to intentionally retaliate against and inflict pain upon protestors challenging policing in our society.” The lawsuit seeks to end the MPD’s unconstitutional and punitive tactics of indiscriminately deploying less lethal weapons, including maiming projectiles, into crowds of persons engaged in First Amendment protected activities, in particular those challenging racist police violence.
The crowd was about 95% white, with the largest demographic being white men between the ages of 25 and 50, many of whom wore clothing with libertarian slogans. A lot of the older people in the crowd wore peace signs. Most people seemed to have come as individuals, not in groups. There were a few African-Americans, some Middle-Easterners and a few women wearing scarves in the hijab custom. Interestingly for a “coalition,” there were very few signs or banners from organizations other than the Libertarian Party and the Schiller Institute, a project of the right-wing LaRouche cult, which had a speaker, Diane Sare.
Washington D.C. - Since this Monday, February 6, the US Department of State took possession of the Venezuelan Embassy headquarters, the ambassador’s residence in Washington DC, and the Venezuelan Consulate in New York, according to a Bloomberg citing “people familiar with the matter.” This was done in response to the disbanding of the fake Venezuelan diplomatic mission led by Carlos Vecchio, after the removal of Juan Guaidó as “interim president,” a decision taken by the same far-right groups that maintained that fictional position following US orders. According to anonymous sources, custody of the properties is due to the fact that, in the opinion of the US diplomacy and their failed understanding of international rules, there is no executive branch that represents the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This disregards the fact that Washington has been sending high level delegations in recent months to directly negotiate with the government of Nicolás Maduro.
Washington, D.C. - Washington, D.C., is on the verge of eliminating bus fares for city residents, joining other U.S. cities that are working to make metro bus and rail systems free to ride. Already, Boston, San Francisco and Denver are experimenting with zero fare. In late 2019, Kansas City, Missouri, became the first major U.S. city to approve a fare-free public transit system. The “zero-fare” movement has garnered support among business groups, environmental advocates, Democratic leaders and others who say that public transit boosts local economies, mitigates climate change and is a basic necessity for many individuals. The idea gained traction during the pandemic, which underscored the critical role public transit plays for essential workers who don’t have the luxury of working from home. But despite the zero-fare movement’s growing popularity, it has drawn political pushback in some areas where the policy doesn’t easily fit in with budgets or local laws.
With the Republicans poised to take narrow control of the House of Representatives in the US Congress in January, the Joe Biden Administration is hoping to extract as much funding as possible for the proxy war in Ukraine against Russia before the locus of legislative business shifts on the Hill. The White House is requesting nearly $45 billion in new funding. Who else could canvass better than an accomplished actor-politician? Enter President Vladimir Zelensky. When Zelensky proposed on Sunday that he’d find time to visit Washington for a few hours on Wednesday, President Biden promptly accepted. For Zelensky too, it pays to be seen holding Biden’s hands amidst swirling rumors of a power struggle in Kiev. To be sure, from the strategic perspective, the backdrop of Zelensky’s decision to travel to Washington urgently would have been the one-day trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Minsk on Monday, which shook up the geopolitics of European security.
Washington D.C. - Yesterday, supporters asking for the release of American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier arrived in Washington and hosted a march and rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The American Indian Movement’s Grand Governing Council (AIMGGC) began the 1,100-mile Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice on Sept. 1. The group completed their final mile on Sunday from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial with nearly 2,000 supporters. “We just walked for 1,103 miles for our elder Leonard Peltier,” walk organizer Rachel Thunder said at Sunday’s rally. “We just marched 1,103 miles for our people, for justice for our people. When Leonard is free, we are all free.” Peltier was convicted in 1977 for aiding and abetting the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in June 1975.
Washington D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board has determined that Union Kitchen violated several labor laws and engaged in union-busting tactics as workers sought to unionize earlier this year, and that management continued to do so throughout the bargaining process, after workers succeeded in formalizing their unit this summer. According to an NLRB complaint reviewed by DCist/WAMU, management at the food retailer wrongfully terminated several employees, interrogated workers about their union activity, hosted mandatory “captive audience” meetings where workers were encouraged to reject organizing efforts, and tried to offer special benefits if workers distanced themselves from the union drive.
Washington D.C. - This morning Indigenous organizers and allies shut down the lobby of the Gibson Dunn law firm in Washington D.C, protesting their involvement in trying to strike down the Indian Child Welfare Act for their big oil client, Energy Transfer. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Haaland v Brackeen today and will decide if they will gut ICWA in 2023, which will further weaken tribal sovereignty. Organizers entered the lobby with a drum singing prayer songs before security removed them from the building. Matthew McGill, a lawyer at Gibson Dunn, is representing the Brackeens in this case pro bono, alongside Paul Clement, an attorney who has a history of regularly attacking existing Indian law and worked to disestablish the Mashpee Tribe’s reservation in 2020.
Dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington DC on Thursday (Oct 13), expressing opposition to funding of fossil fuels and demanding urgent action to tackle climate change. Some of the activists gathered on bicycles and called for support for nations affected by climate change. They carried posters that said "World Bank of climate chaos", "stop funding fossil fuel", "People over profit" and "actions speak louder than words".
As the pandemic waned, Vivian Tatabod, a nurse in Prince George’s County, says she noticed many of her neighbors in her apartment building getting evicted. “When people were going through so much,” she says. “Stuff outside, thrown out, families, struggling to find a place.” Rent in her building, Takoma Towers, recently shot up — in Tatabod’s case, by $400 per month. She says she’s paid her rent while working on the front lines, treating elderly COVID-19 patients. Recently, she was contracted to work at DC Prep to help with COVID-19 testing. While working, she was also raising two children on her own. But two months ago, that contract ended and she lost her job. Now, she too is facing eviction.