Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America

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Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America is a Virginia affiliate of Democratic Socialists of America.


In April 2017 Lewis Savarese was contact for the Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America Organizing Committee.[1]

DSA influence over Charlottesville mayor

From the Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America Facebook page, May 15, 2018.

We are fighting on many fronts. Locally, we’ve had tremendous success in our city government! Our members canvassed for Nikuyah Walker for city council. Not only did Nikuyah get more votes than any city councilor in Charlottesville HISTORY, we successfully agitated for an open vote for mayor, leading to her selection by the council to lead them as the city’s first African American female mayor. Along with our community partners, our presence in council chambers has swayed the outcome of several important votes.


According to member Michael Payne, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America chapter initially came together in October of 2016. In our first few months, we were a small group of roughly ten active members.

We now have about thirty active members, hundreds of supporters, and dozens of community members who we partner with on coalition work.

The Charlottesville chapter’s first major initiative started in March 2017 with Ross Mittiga's campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates.

Our engagement with the campaign, which Mittiga ran on an eco-socialist platform, was rooted in its potential to foster local movement building, particularly around environmental issues. The capaign made the front page of the Washington Post, resulted in national endorsements from Our Revolution and DSA, and generated widespread awareness of our chapter locally.

In March of 2016, a local community organizer (and high school student) Zyahna Bryant started a petition to remove Charlottesville's racist Robert E. Lee statue, ultimately resulting in the city council voting 3-2 to remove the statue.

Throughout the process, there was a well-coordinated backlash from neo-confederate groups. They regularly disrupted city council meetings and launched a series of lawsuits and public demonstrations to prevent the statue from being removed.

While many of the neo-confederate groups were initially from outside of Charlottesville, a small group of local Fascist organizers coalesced and began garnering significant media attention. As the local Fascist organizers gained prominence, national neo-Nazi groups began to arrive.
In May, neo-Nazi groups violently disrupted an annual community event celebrating local diversity. This was followed by a flash demonstration with torches aimed at terrorizing local black residents. The threat continued into July, when a KKK group from North Carolina held a rally in Charlottesville. The rally sparked widespread counter-protests, resulting in the KKK being overwhelmingly outnumbered. After the KKK were escorted out of the rally by police, Charlottesville's deputy police chief illegally ordered the firing of tear gas at peaceful counter-protestors. His only response to criticism of that decision was to say, "You are damn right I gassed them, it needed to be done”.

As the events of May and July unfolded, a broad coalition came together to stop the rising white supremacist threat. The coalition was principally led by Charlottesville's local Black Lives Matter chapter, SURJ Charlottesville, Congregate Cville (a coalition of local clergy), Solidarity Cville, and numerous local organizers. It was within this context that the racist 'Unite the Right' rally was planned.

In the weeks leading up to August 12, the coalition did extensive community education about the nature of the threat Charlottesville was facing. In addition, they initiated a campaign to get Charlottesville to deny the permits for the 'Unite the Right' rally. However, Charlottesville's local government instead advised the community to just ignore the 'Unite the Right' rally. A last minute attempt to move the rally to a more remote location was blocked by a lawsuit from the ACLU and the Rutherford Institute.

As a local chapter, we followed the coalition's lead. On August 12, we joined up with DSA chapters from across Virginia, D.C., and Maryland to participate in counter-protests. It was an extraordinary display of solidarity that brought together progressive organizers from across the country. The white supremacist terror that occurred that day, a result of local and state police’s refusal to intervene against white supremacist violence, is universally known. It was the organizing work done by clergy, local anti-racist groups, the National Lawyers Guild, street medics, and numerous community defenders that unquestionably prevented racist groups from inflicting even greater violence on the local community.
The events of August 11 and August 12—including the devastating loss of Heather Heyer—had a profound effect not just on our chapter, but the entire local progressive movement. Numerous community members are still struggling with the physical and mental wounds from August, and local organizing is filled with a sense of greater urgency.
The most encouraging development has been the growth of a local movement that extends beyond any one organizing group. DSA, BLM, SURJ, Indivisible, tenants’ rights groups, and numerous local grassroots organizations have started coordinating around local politics. This past November, our local movement helped elect Nikuyah Walker to city council, making Nikuyah the first Independent elected to city council in Charlottesville since the 1940s.
Since Nikuyah’s victory, local movement work has increasingly focused on confronting racist housing policies. In the 1960s, Charlottesville's local government razed Vinegar Hill, a vibrant local black community, and forcibly moved residents of Vinegar Hill into public housing. Now the city is considering destroying what remains of Charlottesville's public housing in a twenty-first century attempt to generate profits by displacing black residents. Our chapter continues to support work being done by the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Public Housing Association of Residents, and a newly formed Charlottesville Low-Income Housing Coalition by rejecting gentrification and fighting for housing as a human right.
Within our chapter, we've been heavily inspired by both the work Cooperation Jackson has been doing in Jackson, Mississippi and what the Richmond Progressive Alliance has built in Richmond, California. Our members have advocated for the use of community land trusts in order to de-commodify land and ensure there's a permanent stock of affordable housing for those living at 0-30% of the area's median income. We've also been exploring the creation of local worker cooperatives, community-owned development corporations, and community gardens that can provide an alternative local economy for Charlottesville's low-wealth communities.

We've already seen policy victories. After a sustained pressure campaign, Charlottesville city council adopted a pilot participatory budgeting program this year that will allow residents to collectively decide how a portion of the city budget will be spent. In December, widespread anger over the failure of the police to protect the community resulted in city council voting to create a civilian review board for the Charlottesville Police Department whose bylaws will be written by the community.
Our chapter has also successfully challenged multiple luxury development projects. In December, a sustained pressure campaign caused city council to vote down a million-dollar tax incentive deal for a luxury five-star hotel being built by John Dewberry, an Atlanta developer worth over seven hundred million dollars, whom Bloomberg has dubbed the 'Emperor of Empty Lots'.

The institutional changes we've seen so far in Charlottesville are still just seeds, but the foundation is laid for a fundamental redistribution of political and economic power. We will confront opposition from state and federal government with a broad-based movement capable of scaling up beyond the local level. We stand ready to magnify Heather Heyer’s legacy and build a movement that will transform Virginia politics.[2]

Jeff Fogel DSA endorsement

Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America June 1, 2017. ·

We join EPiC Charlottesville and Showing Up for Racial Justice - SURJ Charlottesville in endorsing Jeff Fogel for Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney in the Democratic primary for Commonwealth's Attorney on June 13.
The criminal justice system is fundamentally broken, and it's been broken for decades. The war on drugs -- in combination with overzealous prosecutors, needlessly harsh sentencing guidelines, and the explosive growth of the for-profit prison industry -- has resulted in a system of mass incarceration that tears communities apart and disproportionately targets low-income and minority populations.
Charlottesville is no exception. Predatory policing has disproportionately targeted Charlottesville's black community. Once coming into contact with the criminal justice system, local community members often lose jobs, housing, contact with family members, and access to justice.

Infiltrating the Democrats

Charlottesville DSA 04.21.2017 at 7:03am ·

A bunch of DSA members are running as delegates to attend the 5th District Democratic Convention. The caucus is tonight, in the cafeteria of Burnley-Moran Elementary School. It opens at 6:30, and you have to be in line by 7 SHARP in order to participate in the caucus.
Please come and support your fellow DSA members! The Bernie wing took over the California Democratic Party. Let's make a start here in VA.

Please come, and please vote for the following folks:


Charlottesville DSA shared Our Revolution Charlottesville's photo. April 21, 2017;

An important deadline for influencing the direction of the Democratic Party of Virginia is coming up TODAY at 5pm! Join us and Our Revolution Charlottesville (Formerly C'ville & Central VA for Bernie) in organizing to get our voices heard within the state party. If you vote in Albemarle county, fill out this form to be a delegate at the 5th Congressional District Committee Convention by 5pm today:
Our Revolution Charlottesville with Emily Cone-Miller and 10 others at Burnley Moran Elementary.
The Bernie-inspired political revolution continues, right here in Charlottesville...
Last night we showed up in numbers at the C'ville Dems caucus to select delegates for the 5th Congressional District Convention.
The progressives/Bernie-crats took 13 of the 17 delegate positions.
All but one of the Bernie wing (13 from 14) were selected as a delegate, and that was only because the 14th was on the other side of the country and couldn't make the caucus. She is, however, one of eight alternates.
This, this right here...this is what Bernie means when he says it's going to take all of us.
And it starts by showing up. Let's make no mistake, the Democratic party in Charlottesville was transformed last night, and they never saw it coming. We showed up.

Stealing the ballot line


Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America Organizing Committee Facebook page April 20. 2017;

Dave Schubert Why the Democratic Party? They're one of the two major parties of the 1%. We should build a labor party rather than support a party of war and worker exploitation.
Emily Cone-Miller Because for the time being the strategy of DSA is to steal the ballot line from the Democratic establishment.

Mittiga meeting


Charlottesville DSA added 2 new photos.

April 12 at 3:29am ·

Great discussion with Ross Mittiga for Delegate at our meeting last night! As the progressive movement continues to grow in Virginia, it will only become more and more important to discuss the direction of the Democratic Party of Virginia and its relationship with movements like Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, and anti-pipeline resistance.

Charlottesville DSA Inaugural Meeting


Charlottesville DSA Inaugural Meeting: Hosted by Charlottesville DSA

Wednesday, February 15 at 6:30 PM - 8 PM EST

Gordon Avenue Library, Century Room (1500 Gordon Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22903)

Invited on Facebook