July 28, 2020.- With more than 50 million people having lost their jobs, a wave of evictions and foreclosures is beginning to sweep the country. Instead of providing real relief, the government is unleashing police departments to evict people from their homes, harass the homeless and continue to carry out routine acts of violence and brutality in Black, Latino and Indigenous communities. Meanwhile, the moratorium on evictions from federally backed rental properties expired on July 25.
This is why activists in more than 40 U.S. participated in a National Day of Action on July 25, to demand “Stop Evictions and Foreclosures, Cancel the Rents & End Racist Police Terror!” From California to New York, from Texas to Massachussets, they took to the streets on foot, in car, and on bikes and even dropped banners on highways to make their message known. They went into communities, to police stations, state capitals and city halls. Here is a sampling of the activities, which were initiated by the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Santa Rosa, Ca. A banner was dropped over Highway 101 protesting the inaction and failure of the federal government to prevent the looming wave of evictions and address racist police terror. PSL was joined by members of the North Bay Organizing Project, Socialist Seawolves, Students for Socialism and Liberation and MEChA. The action received hundreds of honks in support.
The protesters later joined an anti-fascist action at the Old Courthouse Square in Downtown Santa Rosa organized by Love and Light. hundred people, a multigenerational and multinational crowd. Near unanimous support fo the multi-general and multinational protest came from onlookers on the street and in curbside dining. This showed the widespread and multinational support for the uprising against racism and police terror.
Oakland, Ca. “Cancel the rents and stop the evictions” rang out in front of Oakland’s Oscar Grant Plaza at a speakout demanding the cancellation of rents and mortgages and an end to police brutality.
This lively demo drew in people passing by, who listened to speakers explain the connection between the repression of protesters in Portland and Chicago by militarized police and the state’s refusal to prevent foreclosures and evictions during a pandemic.
Rosa Astra from PSL pointed out that “All of these things that the people need in our society, we don’t have, and it’s not because we don’t have the resources…it’s because the billionaires and their politicians, in both the Republican and Democratic parties care more about their profits than they do about human needs.”
San Francisco. Drivers on Highway 280 honked in support of the slogans “Stop the Evictions! Stop Racist Police Terror!” and “Stop the War on Black America!” on a banner dropped overhead, while drivers on Geneva Ave next to the Balboa Park BART station honked in support of a banner reading “Justice for George Floyd & All Victims of Racist Police Terror! Jail All Killer Cops”
National City, CA. Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Unión del Barrio, Anak Bayan, Democratic Socialists of America, Sunrise Movement, and other organizations joined PSL for a march and rally.
Norma Velasquez, whose son, Jacob, whose murder in 2017, explained that National City police “dragged my son while he was wounded and left him there for 14 hours, without being covered, under 90 degree weather.”
The crowd marched from Kimball Park to the National City Police Department building where Jose Cortes of PSL spoke about the need to build a revolutionary socialist movement in order end evictions and police terror once and for all. Other actions took place throughout San Diego County over the weekend in solidarity with Portland protesters and all victims of police brutality.
Los Angeles, CA. At the Harvard Heights Food4Less parking lot, a car caravan began with a press conference. Speakers connected the struggle for housing with federal and police brutality. More than 40 cars traveled through Pico Union to Westlake, ending at the Rampart Division Police Station where activists held a banner that read “LAPD: Guilt of Murder.” Car sign slogans and chants, in English and Spanish, called for an end to evictions and racist police terror, as well as the abolishment of ICE.
Tri-Cities area, Wa. An action was held from 11 AM to 2 PM at Volunteer Park in Pasco. Activists set up along 4th street and received a good reception from passing cars. In addition, SEIU had a car caravan protest at the opposite end of the same park in support of childcare workers. They did several laps around the park and showed solidarity, before going on a longer drive away from the park for their caravan.
Dallas, Tx. At a rally at City Hall, PSL, IWW and others demanded an immediate end to evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the police as the enforcers of the inhumane practice of evicting families during a health crisis. Demonstrators marched through downtown followed by a caravan of 15 cars. The demonstration was met with fists of solidarity and honks and cheers from people downtown.
Columbia, SC. On July 24, determined activists braved a thunderstorm and pouring rain to march from Laurel and Main St. to the SC Statehouse. One Community Cause, Dismantle Racism U of SC,#SimpleJustice Black Lives Matter and PSL joined with organizations from Greenville and Charleston to speak out against the economic inequalities in South Carolina and the police repression faced by protesters. “Our Governor Henry McMaster has raked in $7.7 million in rent in the past as a landlord, he has plenty of money, no one should be evicted, no one should be paying rent right now,” an attendee stated.
Protesters also demanded the trial and prosecution of Kevin Davis, a Columbia Police Department Officer who killed 17-year-old Joshua Ruffin in April. “Kevin Davis should not be living a comfortable life, he should not be able to go about his day while a child, a 17-year-old child, that he murdered is dead!” Kym Smith told the crowd. South Carolina has been facing massive repression from police due to the recent ongoing protests.
In Asheville, NC. A caravan protest joined forces with other organizations for a full afternoon of activism. An 11 am, “Defund the Police” tee shirt printing event, was followed by a caravan protest, and then a march and caravan through the heart of downtown. The protest included organizations like Tranzmission, DefundAvlPD, Justice4Jerry2020, and Movement for a People’s Party. and PSL. In the final march, undeterred by rain, around 100 people on foot, in cars, and on bikes made their way through downtown Asheville streets blocking traffic to chant’s of “Black lives matter!”
Jackson MI. Community activists joined PSL in front of the state capital to demand a stop to evictions and foreclosures, canceling of the rents & an end to racist police terror. The action had support from a broad coalition of organizations. Speakers included Sheree and Sharonda from Call Center Workers United, Calandra from Black Youth Project 100, Esther from Mississippi Teachers United, and Don of Mississippi for a Safe Return to Campus.
Bezal, of Mississippi PSL told the crowd, “All these problems connect! During the pandemic, Black, immigrant, and Indigenous communities in Mississippi are getting infected at higher rates than white people. Our teachers and other school workers are forced to go back to work during a pandemic due to our school system valuing getting the economy back to normal over the safety of workers and children of all colors. This is why we need a united, working-class movement united with these demands!”
The Party for Socialism and Liberation and other local organizers issued a list of demands directed at the State Governor that include: 1)Turn the essentials of life into human rights; 2) Stop the war on Black and Indigenous communities in Mississippi–End police brutality and mass incarceration; 3) Stop the war on immigrant communities; 4) Protect Mississippi’s children and educational workers.
These demands have been organized into a petition that attendees signed. It is being circulated widely locally, and online. Sign the Petition
In Pittsburgh, Penn., about 50 people rallied at Nelson Mandela Park in the Garfield neighborhood to say no to racist police terror and demand an extension of the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for the whole duration of the COVID crisis. Millions in Pennsylvania will be facing a massive wave of evictions as the moratorium is set to expire at the end of August. The rally was organized in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Unemployed Council, an organization following the legacy of the unemployed councils of the 1930s, which at the time were organized in neighborhoods all across the United States.
Champaign-Urbana IL. PSL, along with allies in the Champaign County Anti-Racist Coalition marched to demand the cancellation of rents, a ban on utility shut-offs, and an end to racist police terror.
When the protest was outside of Rogue Barbershop Co. in Downtown Champaign, a man left the store wearing one of the barbershop’s thin-blue-line shirts. He got in a red pick up truck and idled by the protest for a short time before hitting the gas and driving into the peaceful crowd during a speech. March organizers and security teams sprung into action and put themselves and their bicycles in front of the vehicle. Due to their quick response, no one was injured, and the march was able to successfully resume.
The driver ploughed through organizers and protestors, totaled a security bicycle, and sped away with a protest attendee trapped on the back of his truck. A security team followed to ensure the safety of the protester, while a medical team checked up on the mental and physical well-being of protesters.
When the Champaign Police arrived, they did not detain the assailant. Rather, they were hostile to the trapped protester after she escaped and asked the white assailant if he would like to press charges.
Madison, WI. At a speakout, local activist Devon described the recent racially-motivated assault of his close friend at a local grocery store. He highlighted that the attacker had been released on $650 bail, continuing the trend of perpetrators of hate crimes in Madison receiving quite lenient charges – if they are arrested at all. Annika of PSL contrasted how police have responded largely with inaction to recent hate crimes against Black people with the fact that multiple local Black activists have been arrested and charged by that same police force.
Boston, July 25. Liberation photo.
Boston, MA. a rally was held at Ruggles Station in Roxbury to speak out against racist evictions and policing. The event took place just four days after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker extended the eviction moratorium to Oct. 17. However the crowd recognized that this will just delay the 30,000 evictions and counting pending in the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Organizer Nino Brown said, “On Oct. 17, we gotta talk to our neighbors, if your neighbors can’t pay rent, organize them.” Those who came out had much to say, because gentrification continues even as evictions build up in Boston’s starkly segregated neighborhoods. Brockton resident Mariel told Liberation News “I saw Allston getting gentrified, and I see Roxbury getting gentrified. I know a lot of my friends had to move out of the houses they were raised in because they were turned into unaffordable condos. We have nowhere to go!”
Northampton, MA. Forty people rallied in front of City Hall. Protestors then joined a march to abolish the Northampton Police Department.
New Haven, CT. Demonstrators gathered at the corner of Ferry St. and Grand Ave. in Fair Haven. Cancellation of the rents is especially urgent given this state’s rent moratorium expires on Aug. 25.
Speakers underscored the local character of the Connecticut housing crisis while situating it within the ongoing crisis of capitalist oppression and racist police terror and connecting it with imperialist exploitation abroad.
“How can we pay rent without wages?… It’s time to stop protecting the wealthy and start valuing the everyday, vulnerable, essential, person,” said Celina Fernández-Ayala. Laura Snell brought attention to the inadequacy of Connecticut’s current rent relief program. Crucially, state residents are required to apply for relief through the overloaded state’s hotline. Laura, explain that this renders people “unable to apply for relief that they may not even be approved for.”
Across New York City, actions ranged from speakouts to “serve the people” style programs. In Queens, organizers set up a know-your-rights station in Flushing Meadows Corona park alongside a speakout. As park-goers passed by, they stopped to talk and learn about how to protect themselves from the coming wave of evictions, getting free food and water as well. PSL organizer Gabriela Silva led a salsa class alongside the event, bringing in young people passing through the park.
In East Harlem, PSL organized with the People’s Church to combine political education with their weekly food distribution program, teaching people about tenants’ rights. Bronx organizers also educated tenants about their rights, adding in calls and flyers to clean up Claremont Park, which has been abandoned by the city because of cuts in sanitation and park recreation workers. They argued that the New York City Police Department budget must be cut instead.
Brooklyn organizers handed out hundreds of know-your-rights flyers along with water and hand sanitizer as they held a speakout in the Crown Heights neighborhood, where community members joined in. Speakers addressed why housing is a human right, how the police uphold private property and the capitalist system, abolition and socialism, why a revolution is necessary, ending with the famous Assata Shakur chant “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.” PSL also raised awareness and letter-writing signups for Ronald Williams, a Brooklyn resident who has been unjustly imprisoned since 2015.
Feature image: Residents protest rent and evictions during the pandemic in Washington, D.C,, in May. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images