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To get this resolution onto the DPOC Agenda by tonight (Monday Aug. 25) I need to have the signatures of 9 DPOC Central Committee Members besides myself) and to make 75 copies of it, which must be delivered to the DPOC officers by by 6 p.m. tonight. If you’re a DPOC member, and you like where I’m going here, I hope that you will consider meeting me there by 5:30 to sign your name!
Here’s the inspiration: the reason that Ferguson has such a bad and unresponsive government, including its police is that its citizens don’t take part in its elections. There are various reasons for this, but two big ones are (1) that those local elections take place in April of odd-numbered years — the next is on April 7, 2015 — so low turnout is to be expected, and (2) that, because the town has been so profoundly controlled by a small elite, their candidates can’t raise the money and buy the expertise to get elected, despite an almost 40% advantage of African American voters over whites.
(The first person who can look at Fergson and say that “Race Doesn’t Matter” will get a verbal drubbing that will leave permanent marks on your hippocampus. Yeah, it DOES matter.)
Once African Americans establish a City Council majority, they can move municipal elections to the general election primary, or the general election itself — anytime that SOMETHING ELSE is on the ballot that can bring voters to the polls. But first, they have to win once. To do that, they need access to expertise, field organizers, availability of a legal team, mailers, etc. All of that takes money — not a whole lot of it for a city with a population of 21,000! — but more than they are likely to have without outside help.
You know who has it — and is probably pretty willing to spend some of it? People in places like Southern California, including the increasingly cosmopolitan Orange County. And Democrats — and Republicans too, if they want to look good — can even round up strategists, etc. willing to work for free from afar or low cost on site. And then we can blow those racist bastids out of the water come April 7. The timing is perfect.
No one, from what I can tell, has though of doing this — or if so they haven’t discussed it publicly. But right now, Ferguson needs a life preserver and the notion that help is not much more than 10 weeks away may help provide one. (It would be VERY USEFUL, for example, for the police to anticipate that the people running the City government will be changing soon. That can hold back abuses.)
And they need that life preserver now. So, I hope that today’s resolution might start off a trend. It might not pass today — like any other first draft, I’m sure it can use work, especially given the limitations of the “make the whole thing look like it’s one long sentence” style — but it’s enough to light the fire. Have a look — and come give your signature if you’re able!
Resolution: DPOC Will Raise Funds to Provide Material Political Support to the African American Community of Ferguson, MO in Preparation for its Upcoming April 2015 Local Elections
WHEREAS, Ferguson is a city of approximately 21,000 residents in St. Louis County, Missouri, the racial composition of which was 73.8% White to 25.1% African American in 1990, then 44.7% White and 52.4% African American in 2000, and now 29.3% White and 67.4% African American in 2010; and Ferguson became prominent in national and international news during August 2014 due to the police shooting, apparently in cold blood, of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who had apparently surrendered to Officer Darren Wilson with his hands held high; and this act led both to prolonged protest by residents of Ferguson, and other communities both near and far, and also to unconstitutional acts of police violence against protesters, onlookers, and media, which appears to violate not only First Amendment protections but Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment protections of civil rights as well; and overt racists have organized to raise over $340,000 in only five days to support the cause of Officer Wilson, far more than has been raised to support the needs of Michael Brown’s family and those of other African American victims of police repression; and
WHEREAS, all but one Ferguson City Council member is White, only 3 of 53 police officers are African American, and its residents, especially African Americans, have borne a heavy burden of fines and fees imposed by their municipal government; and this situation is unlikely to change without outside intervention due to Ferguson’s municipal elections taking place in the spring of odd-numbered years, a time when voter turnout tends to be especially low [seehttp://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/08/18/3472278/this-is-the-most-important-reform-ferguson-can-enact-to-prevent-another-standoff/]; and also because its voters face police intimidation, many voters are transient and have not registered, and candidates from the largely impoverished African American community of a city of its small size are unlikely to have access to the resources necessary to run an effective campaign that might let them elect a government able and willing to serve their needs; and
WHEREAS, the Democratic Party of Orange County, both on its own and in conjunction with other county Democratic Parties in California and across the nation, is experienced with identifying strategists, managers, field operatives, direct mail operatives, election attorneys, and others able to provide these and other services that can register voters in advance of an election, train candidates, and provide them with the means to run a winning campaign in the usually low-turnout elections scheduled for April 7, 2015; THEREFORE BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Democratic Party of Orange County, on its own if necessary and with other county and state parties within and beyond California if possible, will within a week of passing this resolution seek to make contact with African American Democrats in the Ferguson area, including Democratic committeewoman Patricia Bynes, and seek to establish a plan to register voters, identify candidates, and attract volunteers and (as appropriate) paid staff both to travel to the area to train Ferguson residents and provide their own hand-on experience in winning elections and to provide such services on a pro bono basis, where possible, from outside of the area; and THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that the Democratic Party of Orange County agrees to earmark $5,000 from its funds from this year’s Truman Dinner, and from future Truman Dinners until such time as Ferguson is under the political control of its vast African American majority, to “kick-start” fundraising a campaign to return Ferguson to its own citizens.
Submitted by Greg Diamond, _______________________________________________________________
With a population of only 21,000, a good field campaign — which in this case would have to include legal observers to monitor police treatment of canvassers and the ability to head QUICKLY to federal court — can give them the chance at a truly fair election. In a fair election, I think that the elites realize that they are going to lose and “sue for surrender” sooner rather than later.
I humbly submit that this is a very good place for us activists outside of Ferguson to start. We should not just mouth platitudes about the need for change in Ferguson; we should take a tangible step to let the democratic process work — and make sure they they have the funds they need to see that it happens!
THIS is the way to make the difference — and very soon. Who’s in?