This evening, Mayor Muriel Bowser hosted a Budget Engagement Forum in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC. The goal, as outlined on her site is to “give residents the opportunity to share their values and priorities with the Mayor before the budget is finalized.”
Mayor Bowser has previously stated, as recently as late January, that DC is a sanctuary city. Tonight, a coalition of groups including DC Jobs With Justice, Many Languages One Voice (MLOV) and Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), organized an action to hold Mayor Bowser to her word. Activists donned superhero outfits and called on the mayor to be the superhero for DC immigrants that she has promised to be. Handing out fliers as constituents walked into the meeting, activists then joined the meeting in order to voice their support for funding the following list of demands:
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) out of DC! Ensure there will be no ICE presence and that ICE detainer requests will be declined without exceptions. No use of city resources to advance any deportations and no information about District residents being shared with ICE.
- Create a plan to raise local District funds to make up for any federal money withdrawn from the city, following the recommendations made by the Fair Budget Coalition.
- Immediately pass and fully fund the Language Access for Education Amendment Act of 2015 so that all District residents can access District resources and services, such as medical, housing, worker protections, and education services, regardless of the language they speak.
- Remove the racist, xenophobic undocumented mark on local IDs and have one standard DC identification card and driver’s license for our residents.
- Ensure unchecked violence committed by the Metropolitan Police Department, Metro Transit Police Department and special police forces against black and brown DC residents is eliminated. Black and brown immigrants in the District are often systematically targeted and harassed both by ICE as well as our own police forces.
- Refuse the use of DC government information to build a Muslim registry or specialized surveillance of DC’s Muslim communities.
Along with this list, activists were pushing for full funding for the public safety and community policing NEAR Act which you can read more about here. There were also activists present for higher minimum wage and teacher’s benefits.
The purpose of this post and indeed the protest, is to show the power we have in our communities. We can often feel overwhelmed by federal policy – particularly here in DC where we live quite literally in the shadow of the federal government. That being said, we can and must act in our communities to serve and protect one another and push our elected officials to do the same. If they do not, we must rise against them and replace them.
Feel free to use any images. Credit Eleanor Goldfield/Art Killing Apathy. If you need hi-res versions, contact me.