We, the Santa Cruz chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, fully endorse the demands raised at Wednesday’s protest action. The demands are:
As socialists, we understand that the murder of George Floyd is not an isolated incident. We understand that policing, as an institution, enforces inequality, mass incarceration and a virulently racist capitalism on Black communities. We also understand that the racist violence enacted and enforced by the police cannot be disentangled from the economic system that gave rise to the institution of policing itself, capitalism, a system that values white property over Black lives. We join with those who are defying curfews, facing down tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrest to demand an immediate end to policing.
We condemn the Santa Cruz Police Department’s attempt to depict protestors as outside agitators. Wherever this narrative is deployed, the effect is always to detract from the radical demands being made by a crowd. More moderate demands that don’t seriously challenge the status quo are put forward as the authentic goals of “the community” while more sweeping challenges are associated with outsiders. This has the effect of completely erasing the many people of color in these crowds who know that we need deep, structural change and not piecemeal reforms. It has the effect of isolating militants (white and POC alike) and opening them up to police violence and repression. And most troublingly, it has the effect of disrupting the nascent cross-racial solidarities that begin to develop in times like this and which will be necessary for any truly revolutionary program to succeed. In Santa Cruz this rhetoric has a long history of use to disrupt connections between campus organizers and leftists in the rest of the town. In every instance it has served to protect the powers that be.
Finally, we want to address the role that Mayor Justin Cummings has played in the recent protest-actions in Santa Cruz. On both Wednesday and Thursday evenings we watched as a genuinely multiracial crowd, united around abolitionist demands, fragmented and devolved into bickering over the direction of the protest. Both nights, the catalyst for this fragmentation was an intervention by our Mayor, Justin Cummings. Cummings’ actions were a clear attempt to neutralize a social movement calling for demands that depart substantially from his own goals as mayor. His actions were meant to stop the self-organization of protestors and redirect them towards lobbying city council.
While Cummings is a paper-member of DSA, his statements and his actions are diametrically opposed to DSA Santa Cruz's goal of uplifting radical demands for an end to policing through a broad, multiracial coalition that understands its power to come from below, not from negotiations with politicians and cops.
Let us be clear: we are in unflinching solidarity with the movement to defend Black life, to disarm, defund, and dismantle the police. We will remain in the streets until these demands are met.