Civil rights groups will converge on Washington, D.C. to protest white supremacist rally

Kay Wicker

Kay Wicker Editorial Assistant, Think Progress

Black Lives Matter DC has announced it will hold a counter-protest against the “White Civil Rights Rally” planned for Sunday, August 12 near the White House.

After learning last month that the National Park Service had accepted a permit for the white supremacist rally, which is being organized by those responsible for the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year, BLM organizers were left feeling frustrated, according to D.C.-based WTTG. The group decided to channel its disappointment into direct action, organizing its own rally to counter the narrative being pushed by the “White Civil Rights” demonstrators.

“We are stronger than they are…they are resistant to change and to progress that Black Lives Matter has been doing over the last four years with black liberation and fighting racism and fascism,” Makia Green of BLM DC told WTTG. “So it’s important that we let D.C. and the rest of the world know that we are not going to stand for the hate.”

Adding to the mounting anxiety surrounding the August 12 rally is the fact that it was deliberately scheduled on the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, during which one woman, Heather Heyer, was killed after a rally attendee drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.

Green told WTTG that the situation presented undeniable safety concerns, but said the group planned to offer “training classes” to those attending the counter-protest, to prepare them for any danger that may ensue. Shut It Down DC, an activist group that aims to counter white supremacy and fascism, has offered to host those classes, holding a special resistance training session on Friday, August 10, ahead of the rally.

Members from Black Lives Matter New York are also planning to march down to D.C. that weekend to bring what they are calling a “wave of love.”

“Our goal is not to confront them physically, but to create a wave of love around them,” Black Lives Matter New York leader Hawk Newsome told the New York Daily News.

Speaking to the current divisions in the country, he added, “[We haven’t] gotten any closer to healing the racial divide in this country. If anything, we are further from it. We must come together and demand that each citizen take action to end hatred in all its forms.”

Jason Kessler, the man at the helm of last year’s Unite the Right protest and this year’s “White Civil Rights” demonstration has said the upcoming rally has “a new purpose“: to speak out about what he claims was “civil rights abuse.”

According to Kessler, what took place at last year’s Unite the Right event was an infringement on the white supremacists’ constitutional right to peacefully assemble. “It wasn’t the fault of my group that that stuff happened,” he told D.C. CBS-affiliate WUSA, referring to the attack that killed 32-year-old Heyer.

He continued, “We’re not able to peacefully assemble. We’re not able to speak. …This rally is not about opposing [minority groups]. This is about us. This is about white people and standing up for our rights.”

Kessler also told the Washington Post that he hopes to bring awareness to elected officials about what he feels is discrimination against white people.

Tracye Redd, an organizer with Black Lives Matter DC, disagreed.

“I keep telling people, if your right to rally and your right to protest means that someone else’s life might be in danger, then it is no longer free speech but it is hate speech,” Redd told WUSA.

The so-called “White Civil Rights” rally is scheduled to take place at Lafayette Park, across from the White House on Sunday, August 12. Counter-demonstrators will begin organizing two days before, on Friday, and counter-protest attendees will meet at the park at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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