On one side of a refrigerator that stands on a sidewalk in New Orleans, two alligators encircle a woman with dark mocha skin wearing a tattered white slip. Her hair is a single braid that reaches the ground. She stands with her right foot on top of an orange snake. Above her, white birds seem to be flying toward a celestial body. Below her, two white Bengal tigers prowl between two halves of a papaya. This is just one of several paintings created by artist Sydney Calderon in support of New Orleans Community Fridges (NOCF), which is a mutual-aid effort setting up refrigerators around the city that offer free food to community members, many of whom currently struggle with hunger.
This is a moment of contention and restructuring in America. Mass public outcry is exposing the long-buried, problematic foundations of a nation built on human trafficking, commodification and enslavement of people from Africa, and on the genocide and attempted erasure of Indigenous societies. Protesters across the country are tumbling the statues of profiteers and benefactors of those atrocities, and pushing the nation to dismantle its many false narratives and systems of power. This uprising asks for an acknowledgment that the police force, in particular, is a direct extension of a problematic history, which has vilified and punished Black and Brown Americans disproportionately from the beginning. And they are revisualizing the ways in which true safety and equity can emerge.
The responses of governments around the world to the pandemic and its resulting economic impacts are revealing and varied. As officials enact measures to keep economies afloat and keep people from financial ruin, unprecedented relief efforts are underway. Canada’s government has promised monthly payments worth about $1,450 to anyone affected; Australia plans to give about $1,000 every two weeks to each employee of any struggling business. Many nations, big and small, have guaranteed recurring payments to all citizens until it is safe to go back to work. Italy froze all rent and mortgage payments in early March, and cities and countries around the world have considered ways to follow suit—including the U.S., which ordered reduced mortgage payments for some eligible homeowners for up to a year. In late May, the European Commission proposed an $820 billion coronavirus stimulus package, focused on investments in Europe’s “Green Deal” industries like renewable energy. Around the globe, nations are working to relieve their citizens from the sudden financial burdens as a result of COVID-19.
Protesters against police brutality and racism have gathered to demand systemic change since the end of May, holding events in all 50 U.S. states and around the world. Impelled by the police murder of George Floyd on May 25, the protests amplify a long-standing call by social justice organizations, Black civil rights leaders like Angela Davis and many others for decades: dismantle, defund and/or abolish America’s racist and heavily militarized policing systems—and replace them with community-led safety programs and public health initiatives. The movement’s leadership has made it clear that the protests, many of which have been non-violent due to community participation, are calling for more than updates to existing police training programs or reforms within existing police departments. Rather, they are calling for America to rethink the response to crime and safety overall. They are calling for cities to reallocate funding away from police and begin the steps to gradually dismantle the policing system altogether, as Eric Levitz writes in a recent New York Magazine article.
Protests against systemic racism and police brutality in America continue to call for justice after the police murder of George Floyd on May 25. Floyd’s death catalyzed an uprising of voices that are pushing forward the national narratives around policing and public safety. There is a widespread, growing call to defund and dismantle America’s long-militarized police departments, restructure their use of force policies and redistribute their bloated budgets into public services like housing for homeless people, social services, employment services and community-led safety programs.
This is a critical election year, and even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a voting season unlike any before in the nation’s history. Initially, voter turnout rates were projected to be high throughout 2020, and the primaries started out by living up to that prediction, with a surge in Democratic voter turnout overall (though not when it came to young voters, as the Bernie Sanders campaign had hoped). With COVID-19 and stay-at-home measures in place, much about the coming elections seems to be up in the air and relatively unpredictable. COVID-19 has already meant the postponement of primary elections in several states, voting days that are becoming more like voting weeks or months, shifts in voter turnout and voters risking exposing themselves to the virus in order to vote at their in-person polling stations in places where there are no alternatives in place. The ACLU and other voter rights-focused groups are increasing pressure on Congress to make vote-by-mail and expanded access to voting go-to practices across the country. In the current reality, voters in many areas are being forced to choose between their voting rights and their physical safety, as a Business Insider article published in March explores.
Across the nation, people who are able to are volunteering to offer free delivery of food and household supplies to the most vulnerable members of their communities. Volunteers all over are sewing masks, distributing hand sanitizer (often from distilleries, breweries and other local businesses that have been making and donating it) and other cleaning supplies, and offering free grocery deliveries to people who are advised not to leave their homes. There is a mass mutual aid effort underway in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the world Saturday, March for Our Lives brought millions of people out to the streets in protest of gun violence, school shootings and the lack of U.S. gun regulations. At the main event in Washington, D.C., organizers estimated 850,000 people or more attended the event.
Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren and Michael Moore Invite Entire Nation to a Live Town Hall Meeting on Wealth and Income Inequality
Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Michael Moore have released a video inviting the entire nation to tune into a live town hall meeting on wealth and income inequality on Monday, March 19, at 7pm EST.
After the U.S. and Canada imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s socialist government Friday, Noam Chomsky and Danny Glover joined 154 signatories in an open letter to Washington and Ottawa condemning the sanctions.