The Arc of History Will Not Bend Itself

by Jonathan Krall

On the Media has done it again. I am once again amazed at their ability to address, with impressive specificity, the toxic “new normal” politics that lie at the heart of my fear for my own future and for our democracy. This time they address the twin myths of “American exceptionalism” and “it can’t happen here,” the “it” being fascism and/or totalitarianism. With guest Andrew Marantz, author of Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, they simultaneously frighten us by diminishing the myth that the arc of history bends naturally towards justice and give us hope by suggesting that many of us are already on a path forward, that path being movement politics. Continue reading “The Arc of History Will Not Bend Itself”

Support Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Alexandria

by Opal Boyer

Alexandria City Council Member Mo Seifeldein is proposing an Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resolution to replace Columbus Day in the City of Alexandria. This resolution has also garnered support from Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker. Further, Councilman Seifeldein has partnered with members of the Indigenous community on this effort. As engaged citizens of Alexandria who believe in social justice, we can take action and support this important proposal.

Continue reading “Support Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Alexandria”

Alternatives to prison: an opportunity in Alexandria

by Jonathan Krall

In July, Bryan Jackson and Elizabeth Jones Valderrama told us about OAR [1] programs to aid returning citizens (for Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church) and to coordinate court-ordered community service volunteers (for Arlington and Falls Church). OAR works with individuals who were formerly incarcerated. OAR’s evidence-based program keeps recidivism rates low: 11% versus the Virginia average of 23%. One way to reduce recidivism is to keep people away from the trauma if incarceration. In Arlington, thousands are sentenced to court-ordered community service instead of incarceration, connecting citizens to community events instead of isolating and exploiting them. In Alexandria, those numbers are merely in the hundreds. It seems to me that court-mandated community service is under-utilized here in Alexandria. Can we do better?

Action alert: more service and less exploitation
In Grassroots Alexandria we don’t just talk, we act. Please write to the Alexandria City Council and the Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney with the following message: “I am a citizen of Alexandria and I am asking that we expand the use of court-mandated community service in lieu of incarceration. I understand that, relative to nearby communities in Virginia, alternatives to incarceration are under-utilized in Alexandria. I further ask that alternatives to incarceration be applied so that people of color have as much access to these alternatives as white people. Over-incarceration of people of color is not acceptable. With better policies, we will get better results.”
To contact City Council, click here.
To contact the Commonwealth Attorney, click here.

Continue reading “Alternatives to prison: an opportunity in Alexandria”

Public Statement on VA Housing Trust Fund

Response by Virginia Housing Advocates and Allies to VA Money Committees Stripping Governor’s Allocation for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund

February 6, 2019

On Tuesday, the Virginia House Appropriations and Senate Finance Subcommittees released their recommendations for the 2019-2020 biennial budget. These recommendations fail to significantly increase to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, despite the Governor’s proposal to expand it by $19.5 million over two years. The House recommendations included no increase to the trust fund; the Senate recommendations included $1million – just 5% of the executive proposal – over two years.

In light of the overwhelmingly bi-partisan efforts to provide a $750 million incentive package over 15 years for Amazon, as well as $50 million for Micron, we are outraged that selected members of Virginia’s money committees stripped this critical support for housing for Virginia families. Continue reading “Public Statement on VA Housing Trust Fund”

ICE in Alexandria: the data

by Jonathan Krall

This week, the Washington Post published our op-ed about ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in Alexandria. We encourage you to visit the Washington Post and read about it. The op-ed includes specific statements and statistics. Below we provide our sources.

Want less text and more action? Sign our petition here. And skip to the bottom of this post for more. Continue reading “ICE in Alexandria: the data”

ACPS School Board Candidate Forum

By Barbara Wilmer and Lindsay Stuart

On October 3, Tenants and Workers United and Grassroots Alexandria jointly held a candidates forum for the Alexandria City Public School Board. All 16 candidates attended, vying for the 9 seats. We focused on restorative practices, school resource officers and the school-to-prison pipeline. These are the issues that, we feel, are feeding the so-called achievement gap between students of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Our report is posted here (click the “thumbnail” to view the report)

Please vote on November 6, if not sooner. In person absentee voting has already begun. A video recording of the forum can be found on the Tenants and Workers United Facebook page.

Let’s All Stand Up for Alexandrians

by the Grassroots Alexandria Steering Committee (Zeina Azzam, Opal Boyer, Lisa Friday, Jonathan Krall)

The joint Tenants and Workers United/Grassroots Alexandria effort to keep ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) out of the Alexandria jail continues. Our volunteers have reached out to our local sheriff, to city council, and to our leaders in Richmond. We have learned that both the Alexandria sheriff and city manager are signatories to the agreement that allows ICE to use our jail to detain undocumented Alexandrians. We have learned that ICE issues warrants without judicial oversight. The public debate has been heated. Some who oppose us have resorted to personal pressure tactics, making disparaging statements about individual Grassroots Alexandria volunteers. In the face of personal attacks, the appropriate course of action is to redouble our efforts, focusing on issues instead of on individuals. The Grassroots Alexandria mission is to teach and practice democracy in Alexandria for the benefit of all Alexandrians, especially the most vulnerable among us. We will not back down. Continue reading “Let’s All Stand Up for Alexandrians”

The Missing Political Center

by Jonathan Krall

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to speak with a member of Senator Mark Warner’s staff at a Grassroots Alexandria event. Because Senator Warner is famously centrist, I expressed my concern that the political center seems to have disappeared. The old definition of the center, policies supported by centrist Democrats and centrist Republicans, no longer applies to Congress. For reasons they are loathe to share with the public, centrist Republicans are no longer accepted by their party. As a result, the real-world center, the policies supported by a majority of US citizens, desperately needs the support of the only major party likely to support it, the Democrats.

As I see it, a “missing center” issue is not only clearly favored by a majority of US voters, it is also mysteriously considered a non-starter by the mainstream corporate media. Examples are loophole-free universal background checks prior to a gun purchase, an assault weapons ban, strengthening social security instead of continuing to chip away at it, universal healthcare without bankruptcy-inducing surprise billing, and transportation infrastructure for cities, such as subways and light rail. To the best of my knowledge, a majority of US voters favor all of these while the media ignores or pooh-poohs them. Continue reading “The Missing Political Center”

The Mainstream Media Needs to Call Out Ethnic Cleansing

by Jonathan Krall

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine receives too little attention from the mainstream media. At present, typical media reports make it seem as if a few Israeli settlements are encroaching on Palestinian territory. In fact, Israeli settlements blanket the West Bank like McDonald’s franchises. Because roads connecting settlements to each other are controlled by Israel’s military occupation forces, Palestinian communities are cut off from each other.  These roads, like the settlements, are built on expropriated Palestinian land. A separation barrier, also called the apartheid wall, curtails Palestinians’ freedom of movement and negatively affects their fundamental “rights to work, education, medical care, family life, earning a living and an adequate standard of living”. Israeli forces, aided by the USA, routinely bulldoze the homes of Palestinians who resist. Recently, Israel attempted to level an entire Palestinian village.

This alarms me because Israel is demonstrating that ethnic cleansing on a national scale is acceptable to the US mainstream political and social leadership. Because our mainstream media fails to call this out, white nationalists here in the USA, including Trump, are empowered to proceed with their own campaign of ethnic cleansing. Continue reading “The Mainstream Media Needs to Call Out Ethnic Cleansing”

Mayor and City Council Candidate Forum

by Jonathan Krall

On May 18, 2018, Grassroots Alexandria, along with Tenants and Workers United and NAACP Alexandria, hosted a city council and mayoral candidate forum at the Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. Present were mayoral candidates Allison Silberberg and Justin Wilson, along with city council candidates Canek Aguirre, Willie Bailey, Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, John Chapman, Michael Clinkscale (Republican), Kevin Dunne (Republican), Matt Feely, Dak Hardwick, Amy Jackson, Del Pepper, Robert Ray, Mo Seifeldein, Mark Shiffer (Independent), and Paul Smedberg. J. Chris Hubbard was represented by his wife, who was allowed an opening statement only. Unless noted, all candidates are competing in the Democratic Party primary election on June 12. In person absentee voting has already begun.

In addition to opening and closing statements, candidates were given 30 seconds each to answer each of four questions. This was followed by a “lightning round” of seven yes/no questions. Topics included immigration, affordable housing, police reform, education, safer schools, and LGBTQ human rights. The complete set of questions, along with our brief notes on the answers can be found here.

Photo (L-R): Dak Hardwick, Matt Feely, Kevin Dunne, and Michael Clinkscale respond to the idea of introducing armed “resource officers” into elementary schools (photo by Barbara Hale).

A video recording of the forum can be found on the Tenants and Workers United Facebook page.