Austin Democratic Socialists of America

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Austin Democratic Socialists of America is affiliated with Democratic Socialists of America.

Texas DSA members Fight to Stop Anti-immigrant Law

By June 2017, Austin Democratic Socialists of America had built a large membership of over 640 members by being active as allies against a number of attacks on communities of color, women and LGBTQ people over the last two years.

This work has intensified since Trump took office. Perhaps their most important campaign, which other groups can learn from, is their current fight against an anti-immigrant bill.

On May 29th, national media coverage showed footage of hundreds of people in Austin, Texas chanting and protesting in the Capitol against a new anti-illegal immigrant law known as SB4, for “Senate Bill 4.”

SB4 is a highly controversial bill that mandates local police and sheriffs to essentially become an arm of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under the bill, local peace officers would be given broad authority to ask the immigration status of anyone stopped by an officer for almost any reason. Thus, the moniker: “Show Me Your Papers Law.” SB4 began as a priority of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott.
The authors of the bill in the Senate specifically targeted Austin Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who ran on a campaign of constitutional rights of undocumented residents and non-cooperation beyond the legal requirements with ICE. The only female in a field of six, she won handily in the Democratic primary, and five months later in the general election against a Republican. Sheriff Hernandez said in a hearing on the bill in April that SB4 will "coerce local law enforcement to divert scarce resources to enforcing federal immigration laws, at a risk to public safety.”
During hearings in the Senate and the House, hundreds of people, many of them immigrants or family of immigrants, both documented and not, testified and signed in opposition to the bill. Sheriffs and chiefs of police testified that the bill would undermine the trust between the police and the immigrant and Latino communities, leaving their cities and towns less safe. Mayors, lawyers, school administrators and school board members spoke out against the mass deportation provisions of the bill and its potentially devastating impact on families, children, businesses and the Texas economy.

Despite these large protests, the House and the Senate passed the bill. Advocates were outraged that the bill was made far more egregious in the final evening of late-night amendments to the bill in the House, where Tea Party reactionaries one-upped each other.

Austin City Council member Gregorio Casar, one of those arrested at a May 1 protest , has said that “this is the most bigoted bill that has come out of the legislature. It will create massive levels of racial profiling.”

The Governor signed the bill in a private office on a Sunday evening, May 14, away from any media. Within two hours after the private signing was livestreamed on Facebook, protesters, including a dozen DSA members, demonstrated in front of the Governor’s mansion.

Monica Olvera, one of the DSA members who became active in the Stop SB4 campaign, spoke about her outrage at the bill: “This bill is a direct threat to the Latinx community. This bill wants to take away the hardworking parents of U.S.-born children. Children should not have to live with the fear that their parents may not be there when they get home from school or after playing with friends.”

Olvera joined Austin DSA and a Bernie-inspired local group: Left Up To Us (LUTU), after getting active in planning a No Ban No Wall rally this past February to protest Trump’s refugee ban. “I worked with several DSA members and LUTU members and liked the work they were doing on a range of issues important to me,” she said. She is a newly elected leader of the LUTU Fundraising Committee and also represents LUTU and Austin DSA in a new coalition of over 20 groups to fight SB4. “Expect to see our impact in the coming months,” she says.

Austin DSA leadership has made it a priority to educate and mobilize the chapter on opposing the attacks on immigrants since Trump was sworn in. Leading the fight to stop SB4 was United We Dream, Workers Defense Project and Grassroots Leadership, all three organizations that Austin DSA members had worked closely with for months on immigrants’ rights, family detention centers, sanctuary issues and construction worker safety and health.

DSA members, as allies with immigrant rights organizations, began actively supporting the fight to stop SB4 during the legislative session. Austin DSA had been involved since the first mobilizations around the hearings in the Senate and in the House. After the bill passed both houses, a group of 20 protesters were arrested at a sit-in at the Governor’s office on May Day. Two of the arrested were Co-chairs Danny Fetonte and Chau Lan Ngo. Other DSA members were arrested as well. DSA members also played roles as witnesses and supporters during the civil disobedience and outside at the rally.

The day after the bill was signed into law, Austin DSA’s Feminist Action Committee met. Because of the mobilizing on May Day, guest speaker at the meeting was Stephanie Gharakhanian, Legal Services Director for the Workers Defense Project, a construction worker rights organization. After her presentation on the impact of SB4 on communities of color, the committee members voted to draft a resolution to oppose SB4 for Austin DSA’s monthly meeting three days later. The resolution, passed unanimously by the more than 130 members present, called for members to participate in a Day of Action on May 29 and to join the Summer of Resistance to the bill, which includes actions to promote public education and to call for cities around Texas to join law suits against SB4.

Thirty members signed up to help mobilize members for the actions on 5/29. Atx DSA and LUTU held two phone banks to call 400 members about 5/29. Monica Olvera helped plan the phone banks and organized a poster party where 10 members made 50 posters for the rally.

One day before the Day of Action, another DSA member, Jen Ramos, organized a Wake Up the Governor action at 2 AM, with Mariachi band music blasting and dozens of protesters chanting. The action was called “Mariachi Resistencia,” and was a group effort with the North Texas Dream Team (an immigrant rights group), the Dallas and Austin DSA Chapters, the University of Texas Chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Austin Young Democrats.

Jen said, “We wanted to take ownership of our culture and our heritage and remind Governor Abbott that if our communities cannot rest, he shouldn't either.” He added,”Over 50 protesters were in attendance at 3 AM that evening and the protest was featured by the Texas Observer and Univision nationally."

On May 29, over 100 Texas DSA members joined 2,000 protesters for the Day of Action at the Texas Capitol. DSA was part of a loose coalition of immigrant rights and civil rights advocacy organizations which planned the action in two weeks. The action included protests inside the Capitol, where hundreds of protesters packed the house gallery and hundreds more filled the Capitol Rotunda on four floors as well as attending a rally afterwards on the Capitol grounds.

Liliana Pierce Mendoza, who is a DSA member, an elected member of the Central Texas Our Revolution and a staff organizer for JOLT, a Latinx empowerment organization, talked about the emerging battle: “There will be many opportunities to fight SB4 throughout the Summer of Resistance. We need to educate, mobilize and act in every way possible leading up to the Sept. 1 implementation.”

Stephanie Gharakhanian, Legal Services Director for the Workers Defense Project, one of the organizations playing a central role in building the campaign against SB4, was guest speaker at the DSA Feminist Action Committee May meeting. Speaking on the actions at the Capitol and the fight ahead, she said:

"On May 29, Texans across the state spoke loudly and clearly that our fight against hateful SB4 is just beginning. We will challenge this law in the courts, we will continue to organize in our communities and register our neighbors to vote, and we will work tirelessly this summer and beyond until SB4 is repealed.”

Immigrant rights groups and civil rights organizations including the DSA are planning a Summer of Resistance. Conference calls have been held with activists in the fight against a similar law in Arizona, SB 1070, which took six years to defeat. Atx DSA co-chairs Fetonte and Ngo attended a gathering of 30 civil rights and immigrants rights organizations to plan next steps in the Summer of Resistance to SB4.[1]

Personnel

As of 1982;

Board members at large

Editorial board

Noticias (Austin DSA newsletter) production staff: Richard Croxdale, Kevin Batt, Walter Skinner, Gary Jordan, Carol Nash, Anne Archer, Jim Ratcliff, Scott Van Osdol, Glenn Scott, Gary Kline, Paul Mitchell, Todd Samusson[3]

As of 1983;

Re-formed Austin DSA

In 2015 contacts for Austin Democratic Socialists of America were Danny Fetonte, & Alice Embree.[5]

Glenn Scott was president.

2019/20 executive

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2019/20 Austin Democratic Socialists of America executive.

2018/19 executive

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2018/19 Austin Democratic Socialists of America executive.

2017 Austin DSA leadership

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New leadership for Austin Democratic Socialists of America, November 2017.

Austin DSA Housing Committee

In 2019 these people served on the Austin Democratic Socialists of America Housing Committee Marina Roberts, Co-Chair, Mark McKim, Mike Nachbar, Rachel Tepper, Madeline Detelich, Housing Committee Co-Chair (June 2018 – December 2018). [6]

Texans for Bernie

Austin Democratic Socialists of America ended up doing work through Texans for Bernie after they developed relationships with a number of local progressive groups while organizing an event for Sanders and Jim Hightower last spring. The Austin local, which was officially chartered last February, has 60 members who are participating as individuals in Texans for Bernie.

This level of participation, combined with DSA members being open about their membership at Texans for Bernie meetings and events, makes it possible for DSAers to have plenty of discussions about socialism with potential members.

Many members of the Austin local also have strong ties to local labor unions and progressive groups, which provides them with an immediate network of potential recruits.[7]

DSA Meeting Summary from Thursday, 11/19 2015

Co-Chair Elections: Allison Behr and Danny Fetonte were elected as Co-Chairs of Austin Democratic Socialists of America for November 2015 – November 2016.[8]

Thomas Grace meeting

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Austin Democratic Socialists of America shared Thorne Dreyer's post. April 8 2016.

Thomas Grace is also speaking tonight at the TSEU Union Hall at 7pm, located at 1700 S. 1st St.

Thomas Grace is our guest on Rag Radio today, Fri. 4/8, 2-3 p.m. (CT) on KOOP 91.7-FM in Austin. Tom, a survivor of the 1970 Kent State shootings -- when National Guardsmen shot unarmed students, killing four -- is the author of "Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties." Stream it live:

Tracey Schulz, Alice Embree, Cecilia Colome, Glenn Scott, Barbara Fetonte, Ron Nelson, Yolanda Delgado, Roger Baker, Jr. David Hamilton, Beverly Baker Moore.

“She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”

When DSA’s Feminist Working Group (FWG) launched a fundraising campaign to expand abortion access for low-income women via Abortion Bowl-a-thons, Austin Democratic Socialists of America decided to combine the bowl-a-thon with a showing of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” a recent documentary about the U.S. women’s liberation movement from 1960 to 1971.

Some 70 people attended the film showing, which was both the chapter’s first public feminist event and one of the largest actions the chapter has sponsored since being chartered in the fall of 2014.

One of our committee, Meaghan Perkins (new DSA member) invited Rosann Mariapurnam, a Lilith Fund board member, to speak at the event. Mariapurnam made clear the daunting barriers women in Texas face in obtaining legal abortions and the pressing need for contributions.

Co-chair Allison Behr was at the sign-in table. Co-chair Danny Fetonte talked with people about membership after they signed in. Alice talked about DSA’s national effort on abortion access. I did a brief introduction and brought the planning committee up front so that people could see that we were intergenerational.

Thanks to our emails and online fundraising in addition to the film showing, we tripled our initial $500 fundraising goal by the date of our bowl-a-thon. DSA fielded two teams, each made up of young people. Older DSA members and allies were the cheering squad. Our committee brought a DSA banner, pompoms, kazoos, and costumes. Committee member Taylor Borgfeldt brought “Design your own Fallopian Fans” with a fallopian tubes graphic, markers, glue, and glitter. We have established DSA as a strong ally on abortion access. Four new members joined DSA during our campaign. Several more are interested in working with us. In addition, we now have a core group for a DSA feminist committee to do ongoing work.[9]

Nitsch campaign

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Democratic Left, 01.16.17

According to Austin Democratic Socialists of America members Bridget Tobin, Richard Croxdale, Glenn Scott, and Dale Webb of Austin-based progressive group Left Up To Us.

In a remarkable, unexpected down-ballot election victory in Austin, Texas, DSA member and Sanders campaign activist Julie Ann Nitsch won her runoff for Austin Community College (ACC) Board of Trustees on December 13th.

Nitsch started her campaign at a clear disadvantage, lacking name recognition or a political resume. She had never held a public office, or served on any local boards or commissions. Meanwhile, her strongest opponent had served as ACC trustee for the previous 6 years, had a long resume of community activism, and received endorsements from most local Democratic elected officials and leaders.

But Nitsch did have the strong backing of a huge Bernie movement in Central Texas, a DSA chapter whose large membership provided over 100 block walkers and phone bankers, and the full support of Our Revolution (the national organization that grew out of the Sanders campaign) in the runoff election.

Nitsch’s leadership in the Sanders campaign gained her the respect and support of hundreds of volunteers. After volunteering for the campaign in the summer of 2015, Nitsch became the Campaign Coordinator of Texans for Bernie for Travis County and, later, one of five Austin DSA members who served as Sanders delegates at the DNC.

Following Bernie’s loss in the primary, Nitsch’s campaign manager and digital director Liz Webster said “we realized we were no longer alone. We didn’t have to fight on our own.” She adds that in the wake of the Democratic National Convention in August, “These people were fired up and needed a candidate and Julie was the real deal. She was ready to do it and she was ready to stand up for them.”

Nitsch's progressive vision and strong support base made for a vigorous, people-powered campaign. According to Austin DSA Co-Chair Danny Fetonte, “DSA members provided the foot soldiers for the campaign.” Nearly 300 DSAers staffed phone banks, attended Democratic Clubs and union meetings with Nitsch, block walked, did mailings, and put up signs at member’s homes and at friendly businesses.

Our Revolution also played a pivotal role in Nitsch’s victory. They sent over 51,000 text messages and made over 13,000 calls to supporters during the campaign. According to volunteers, many of the people that voted for Nitsch did so as a direct result of Our Revolution’s concerted efforts.

Also crucial to the campaign was Nitsch's digital strategy. Campaign manager Liz Webster, who also worked on the campaign's graphic design, ensured that when voters heard the Nitsch's name, they would be able to Google it and see a highly professional website and online presence with consistent, powerful messages.

Another key player in Nitsch’s win was the Central Labor Council, who endorsed Nitsch early on. An important step to winning the Labor Council's support was earning the backing of the ACC-AFT local, the ACC faculty and support staff union. Although Nitsch’s chief opponent, Guadalupe Sosa, had served the previous 6 years as trustee in a different at-large seat, the AFT local passed over Sosa and delivered their endorsement to Nitsch.

The final element of the winning coalition was a local Bernie-inspired progressive group called Left Up to Us (LUTU). According to their website, several Sanders staffers and volunteers started the group with the mission to “answer the call for a progressive political revolution by actively organizing to engage and educate the community.” For Nitsch's campaign, dozens of LUTU activists helped by phone banking, block walking, and text banking.

In the general election on November 8th, Nitsch delivered a strong second place finish with over 34% in a four-way race, while Sosa took just over 40%. With no candidate receiving over 50% of the vote, the race went into a runoff election on December 13th. The 5-week period between these dates gave the Nitsch campaign a renewed path to victory. Our Revolution hosted statewide and out-of-state phone banks to get out the vote for Nitsch, their only endorsed candidate in a runoff.[10]

Feb. 2017 meeting

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Austin DSA February 12 at 11:01am · The agenda for this Thursday's meeting has been set, and remember, all are welcome: friends, neighbors, and kids! 🤝Introductions – Who we are – 10 minutes 🏳️‍🌈Regional Coordinator of Equality Texas, Robert Salcido – 15 minutes 🗣Q&A with Robert Salcido – 20 minutes 💾Tech Committee Report – 5 minutes ✊Linda Curtis on independent political action – 10 minutes 🔗Why non-state employees should take April 12th off to join TSEU’s March and Lobby Day – Danny Fetonte – 5 minutes 📝Organizing/Orientation Schools for new members – 5 minutes 🌹Socialist Feminist Fundraiser Report – 5 minutes 💸Divestment Legislation – Bernice Hecker – 5 minutes 📖Reading Group – Ron Nelson and Jim Tourtelott – 5 minutes 📯Announcements and General Welfare – 10 minutes The featured speaker for our next meeting on March 16th is Shadia Ajram – an Arab-American organizer who will discuss the challenges faced by Arab-American women and the resistance to Trump.

50th Anniversary Farm workers event

Glenn Scott, September 12, 2016 near Austin, TX:

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Shout our to DSA and Left Up To US members for marching and rallying Sunday for the 50th Anniversary Farm workers event. Your energy was awesome! With me are Martha Mercado, Talia Leonard, Jacob Martinez, Tom Jones, Bobbie Tsukahara, Gil Starkey, Dale Webb and many more! Si se puede!

Explosive growth

In February 2017, the 3-year-old Austin group was by far the largest in Texas, with around 500 members.[11]

By August it was 704 members.

Mass General meeting

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General Meeting Public · Hosted by Austin DSA

Thursday, February 16 at 7 PM - 8:30 PM CST

Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701

Please join us at historic Scholz Garten to hear from Equality Texas Regional Coordinator Robert Salcido on fighting back against anti-LGBT bills in the Texas Lege.

Invited on Facebook

Interested

Went

Austin DSA Socialist Feminist Book Club

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Austin DSA Socialist Feminist Book Club Public Facebook Group, as of August 17, 2017;[12]

Admins

Members

More names were added by September 15;

More names were added by March 27, 2018;

References