Government funding is set to cycle on September 30th and we might be in for another government shutdown. While Republicans and Democrats play the blame game and Americans watch their useless theatre, it’s clear — we only have ONE major party, and it’s the corporate party.
The pressure from the corporate parties extends to all Democrats and Republicans, even The Squad. At our #OccupyCongress action this month, we saw just how Democrats, even progressive Democrats, will make it look like they are fighting for the people while quietly going along with an establishment that is evicting millions.
Our Occupy Congress actions on the steps of Congress were unsanctioned by Democratic Party leadership and got a very different reception from the Extend the Eviction Moratorium event hosted by Cori Bush, AOC and the Squad in August.
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I was there when the Squad occupied Congress and the police treated the group with velvet gloves. When dozens of us with the People’s Party took the steps on Labor Day, the police were so determined to stop us from occupying Congress that they arrested Paula Jean Swearengin, Jackson Hinkle, Martin Gugino and I and kicked everyone else, protesters and tourists, off the Capitol grounds and closed it entirely.
They Shut Down Congress to Keep Us Out
Even more revealing, they arrested us for using a bullhorn, despite the fact that the Squad had openly used bullhorns and sound systems just a few weeks back. As soon as we were released from jail, we went back to Congress to retake the steps and found that they had fenced it off and posted guards and a motorcycle to keep us away.
Access to the Capitol Building was restored in the morning and we gathered again at the steps, holding it on Tuesday and till sunrise on Wednesday morning. That’s when the police started trying to evict us. They created several new rules that hadn’t applied to the Squad in an effort to force us off the steps.
The Squad had done all of these, but Peoples Party Couldn’t
- Use bullhorns
- Use protest signs
- Wear shirts with political messages
- Use folding chairs
- Lie down on the steps
- Sleep or close our eyes for too long
They even threatened to arrest the entire group for wearing our red bandanas commemorating Labor Day and the Battle of Blair Mountain, one of the greatest labor uprisings in American history. It’s all the more apparent that a different set of rules apply to members of Congress than their constituents.
When we pointed out the double standard, the Capitol Police told us that the actions hosted by Cori Bush last month had been approved by the House Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police Board and signed off on by Nancy Pelosi. That’s when the velvet glove treatment the Squad got on the steps became much clearer.
So did their reasons for accepting a 60 day-eviction moratorium extension that they knew would be shot down by the Supreme Court. And their refusal to come back the steps after millions were facing homelessness again just as they were losing their Covid unemployment insurance.
The Capitol Police told us that representatives can stage photo-op demonstrations on the Capitol Steps, taking pics hugging Chuck Schumer and staging a “win” to prop up the Biden administration like the Squad did. But when their constituents organize for real change, they are forced away by police and a flood of rules the Squad and others aren’t subjected to.
But we can’t stop. We won’t settle for incrementalism. We can’t wait for change while millions suffer. That’s why we take action. That’s why the People’s Party fights on a dual track of direct action and electoral organizing. This is just the beginning.