Solidarity Is Our Greatest Weapon: On Recent ROC DSA Victories

Image: Raised fists. Text: Solidarity is our greatest weapon: On Recent ROC DSA victories

by Brent

The following comments were delivered by ROC DSA Co-Chair Brent at the April 21st Solidarity Dues Call-a-Thon. Join an upcoming Solidarity Dues phonebank here: https://actionnetwork.org/campaigns/2023-solidarity-income-based-dues-drive-national-phonebanks


Hi comrades! Thank you all for being here both to activate members and to raise money for our organizing efforts both locally and nationally. My name is Brent, my pronouns are he/him, and I’m one of the Co-Chairs of the Rochester Chapter. I’ll keep it brief so we can hop back on the phones but I want to talk briefly about two campaign victories we’ve had recently in Rochester.

After months of Speak to Council sessions and coalition meetings with electeds, both DSA endorsed and not, Rochester City Council passed two ceasefire resolutions. One was submitted by our comrade Councilmember Stanley Martin, and a competing resolution that removed the reference to Israeli apartheid was submitted by a non-DSA elected. Both received 5 signatures, a majority of City Council, adding Rochester to the list of over 100 US cities that have called for a Ceasefire in Palestine.

Our second victory was a campaign that Eric from DSA staff helped us build when he was in town last year. That was our “NO BID” campaign. Wealthy landowners planned to implement a “Business Improvement District” in downtown Rochester, which would have established a slush fund of both public tax dollars and fees levied against all property owners in the district, and would absolutely be passed down through higher rents. This fund would be controlled by a majority owner class board and would be used to do anything from landscaping to hiring armed private security to harass “loiterers”—their term for unhoused people or even just teenagers just existing without spending money.

In a coalition with the “BID Education Committee”, an organization founded to combat the BID, we held public discussion sessions about the BID, hosted phone zaps to contact councilmembers, held presentations for local unions and neighborhood associations, mobilized dozens of people to Speak to Council—and hired a videographer to livestream the sessions since city council had stopped doing so. (We have since purchased the equipment necessary to do this ourselves, which was made possible through member dues!) We had even planned to force a referendum and launch a canvassing campaign to win that referendum. The day after the ceasefire resolutions were signed, the capitalist organization behind the BID put out a statement saying they were halting their efforts in implementing a BID due to lack of political will and majority support from City Council. Back to back victories for Rochester!

I want to close by talking about solidarity. Something powerful happened in the city council chambers when our members and supporters approached that microphone, and that’s that we united our struggles. When we spoke about the BID, we also demanded City Council sign the ceasefire resolution. When we spoke about the ceasefire resolution, we demanded City Council stop the BID. And when we talked about either, we demanded City Council launch a vacancy study that’s necessary to implement rent control. It is solidarity that won those two victories. It is solidarity that shows the working class that our struggles are united. It is solidarity that is our greatest weapon against the owner class. Solidarity Forever!

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