Occupy The Vote DC
What We Learned from New Hampshire

Our second and final trip to the New Hampshire State House to testify for DC statehood was a failure in the sense that the committee voted 8-3 against it - but a success in that we learned how to strategize better moving forward.

We were hopeful that our obvious sacrifices - the hunger strike, then driving up twice, sleeping in the car, etc. - and a full day of logical and impassioned testimonies would help sway the skeptical representatives. But in the end, almost all of them seemed to find a reason to resort to their original opinions.

Their holdups ranged from the usual, intractable and false insistence that DC statehood would be unconstitutional, to absurd fears about who would be responsible if the Washington Monument fell down and the delusion that if we were given representation our crime rate would somehow spread to New Hampshire.

We are clearly in solidarity with Mayor Vince Gray and the council members who made the trip to New Hampshire and are planning for more such trips to other states, but we feel they can do better. They seemed to have done less research on and outreach to the committee members than we had, as evidenced by a few ill-advised remarks and their choice of the conservative NH State House in the first place. We know they chose New Hampshire first (and Florida next) because of connections they have with legislators in those states, but we are puzzled all the same because of how incredibly conservative the makeup of those state governments are.

When we met with DC ACLU Director Johnny Barnes in January he told us that in successfully fighting for DC rights in Congress he had learned to always count your votes before acting to pass legislation, and to always get your allies on board first. The current trajectory of the mayor and council does not follow that intuitive model.

Therefore we have begun to explore a potential ally much closer to home: Maryland. We will be meeting with a state representative in the next few weeks to discuss getting a letter signed by a majority of the legislature that would support DC statehood. We believe we have a good chance of getting a meaningful show of support from our neighbor state, whose Governor Martin O’Malley recently expressed support for DC statehood.

We will keep you updated as this outreach develops.

meme’d by @Tattoojoe152

meme’d by @Tattoojoe152

Q: ‘What’s going on?’ ask students of DC’s finest arts magnet Duke Ellington HS. John Legend wants to know as well. A: Still voteless.

kennedycenter:

John Legend sings Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On

More from What’s Going On…NOWJohn Legend, with a little help from the kids from Duke Ellington School for the Arts, launching www.whatsgoingonnow.org yesterday.

As we head to our second trip to New Hampshire to testify at a hearing for a resolution in support of DC voting rights, we find our spirits high and our gas money low. We have until Monday to raise an additional $200 dollars to send our 5-people-to-a-sedan, couch-surfing DC democracy envoy to Concord and back.

Thanks for any help you can provide–no amount is insignificant.

Yes, follow the Facebook page and like us for even more updates, events and Joe Gray-created memes regarding all things DC voting rights.

Sam writes —
Building on the momentum of our last meeting and the burgeoning DC statehood conversation happening in this city, we’ll be having another community general assembly tomorrow, Thursday night, at 7pm. Tifereth Israel, at 7701 16th Street, (synagogue is located at 16th and Juniper Streets, and the entrance to use is on the side of the building, on Juniper Street) which welcomed us to services during our hunger strike, has been kind enough to open its doors to us tomorrow night. There will be bagels and cream cheese.

Tomorrow night we’ll talk about the progress the hunger strikers have made since our last meeting, and we’d like to get more specific about how we can progress on things you have expressed interest in, such as outreach to the city, international community, schools, government, and more, as well as fundraising and other kinds of organizing. We’ll also give a tutorial on social media networking (bring laptop, tablets, smartphones).

We have a lot of energy and a lot of potential. Let’s put them together. Hope to see you all there!

Sam writes —
Building on the momentum of our last meeting and the burgeoning DC statehood conversation happening in this city, we’ll be having another community general assembly tomorrow, Thursday night, at 7pm. Tifereth Israel, at 7701 16th Street, (synagogue is located at 16th and Juniper Streets, and the entrance to use is on the side of the building, on Juniper Street) which welcomed us to services during our hunger strike, has been kind enough to open its doors to us tomorrow night. There will be bagels and cream cheese.

Tomorrow night we’ll talk about the progress the hunger strikers have made since our last meeting, and we’d like to get more specific about how we can progress on things you have expressed interest in, such as outreach to the city, international community, schools, government, and more, as well as fundraising and other kinds of organizing. We’ll also give a tutorial on social media networking (bring laptop, tablets, smartphones).

We have a lot of energy and a lot of potential. Let’s put them together. Hope to see you all there!

Occupy the Vote DC in the press

Though the New Hampshire House hearing on DC statehood was canceled at the last minute for a sprinkling of snow, DC remained disenfranchised and without autonomy, so your faithful DC statehood strikers remained active, opening up lines of communication with the NH House members who will be voting on the statehood resolution.

On Sunday, the Concord Monitor covered our efforts:

Road trip, Take 1

Sam Jewler and four friends from Washington, D.C., were already in Boston when they learned last week that all legislative hearings - including one that endorses making D.C. a state - were being canceled on account of the storm.

Jewler, 23, and his group has already held a hunger strike for their cause, so continuing into a New Hampshire snowstorm was nothing.

They got out their cell phones and began to email members of the House State and Federal Affairs Committee that is hearing the bill. They landed an invite from Democratic Rep. Cindy Rosenwald, who co-sponsored the bill, to meet her in her Nashua home.

They also scored a conference call with the committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry.

Their message? “D.C. should have equal rights with all the other states,” said Jewler, a D.C. native.

"We have no representatives in Congress. We have no voting representation. Every time we talk to people, they can’t believe the facts we are telling them."

The bill endorses the argument for equal representation but has no binding authority.

Jewler said he was encouraged by Baldasaro’s response. “He said he would normally lean against (the bill) but will have an open mind,” Jewler said. “He will listen to what his committee wants.”

The committee is scheduled to take up the bill Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m. Jewler said he and his crew will be there.

 

For the rest of the article, see: "The Primary’s Other Winners and Losers"

a modicum of snow

Let us stop at nothing, not even snow!

Wrapping up a promising first tour

Five people campaigning for four days up and down the East Coast for one goal: equality for the 618,000 residents of Washington, DC.

Last night we finished our shoestring budget thousand mile road trip spreading the word on DC’s disenfranchisement to people in New York City, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and places in between. We did teach-ins with the good people of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy New Hampshire, Occupy Providence and Occupy New Haven - between them, educating over a hundred young activists committed to rectifying injustices everywhere and spreading the message of the need to get rid of DC’s third-class status.

From Manchester, where Occupy NH activists from around the state meet at the corner diner for general assemblies, and New York, where OWS got its park back on the very night we were there (stars aligning…), to Providence, where our teach-in in their beautiful geodesic dome drew a smart crowd, to New Haven, where Yalies, public school teachers and DC natives showed up to learn about DC statehood, occupiers were uniformly welcoming, inquisitive and and fired up about equality for DC once we explained the issue to them. They were happy to sign the petition, and wanted to know what more they could do. More on that soon.

Teach-in in the geodesic dome at Occupy Providence

Though the DC statehood hearing in the New Hampshire House of Representatives - the original focal point of our trip - was canceled the night before it was set to take place, we were still able to communicate with about a dozen different state representatives. Representative Cindy Rosenwald, who sponsored the bill for statehood, generously hosted us for brunch at her house in Nashua, where we had a long conversation with her about how to find common ground with the members of the overwhelmingly Republican House. Then we talked with Rep Al Baldasaro, the chair of the NH House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee, which will hold the statehood hearing, and were encouraged to hear him say that, like us, he doesn’t consider this a partisan issue. We’ve also started productive conversations with New Hampshire House, where we think we can find allies who agree that 100% of Americans should have representation in Congress.

We now have about two weeks before the rescheduled hearing on Jan 27th to communicate with the 17 members of the committee regarding their concerns about DC statehood and why supporting it is simply the right thing to do.

A long night in the financial district in New York City celebrating the barricades of Zuccotti Park being removed by a court injunction. Occupy Wall Street has offices, a solid fiscal foundation and an amazing team continuing direct action work. But it’s still incredible to see their origin, their park, be returned to a public space for all to enjoy and for all to engage in 1st amendment expression.
So we woke on opposite sides of the East River, myself in the lower east side and Sam, Sara, Mookie and Joe in Brooklyn. I took the above picture from the zenith of the Williamsburg Bridge and wondered if one side of the river were disenfranchised and the other side were not, and that had just been accepted for 200 years, whether anyone would still care. I decided New Yorkers were stubborn and they’d care; they’d keep caring. I sipped my paper cup coffee and headed to meet my friends off Delancey.
We headed towards New Hampshire, tackled a litany of tolls and traffic (neither of which phased us, being from DC) and spoke with Ilir Zherka and DC Vote as we left the city. There was optimistic talk of meeting in Concord and collaborating on public testimony with the Mayor, council chair and veterans who lived in New England but were from DC. There was talk of a winter weather advisory, and jokes that if the conference were in DC, the city might cancel its own conference because of snow. After the New Hampshire representatives met to deliberate on DC’s path to democracy, Vince Gray would take us all out to lunch. Optimism was high, and there was a consensus that, with some more time and resources, we could do this in all fifty states.
We arrived in Boston, passed by the Celtics arena and quickly left the same way we came.
It was somewhere on I-93, late Wednesday afternoon, when we learned that, in fact, in snow-resilient New Hampshire, the State House of Representatives had cancelled business for the next day. The day of the hearing on DC voting rights. Because of 4 to 6 inches of predicted snow. New Hampshire. You know, Mount Washington? That New Hampshire.
Some background:
- winds exceeding hurricane force occur an average of 110 days per year.
-Mount Washington once held the world record till 2010 for directly measured surface wind speed, at 231 mph
It was as if DC policy had followed us up to New Hampshire to impose its famously preemptive weather cancellations on New Hampshire.  Continued….

A long night in the financial district in New York City celebrating the barricades of Zuccotti Park being removed by a court injunction. Occupy Wall Street has offices, a solid fiscal foundation and an amazing team continuing direct action work. But it’s still incredible to see their origin, their park, be returned to a public space for all to enjoy and for all to engage in 1st amendment expression.

So we woke on opposite sides of the East River, myself in the lower east side and Sam, Sara, Mookie and Joe in Brooklyn. I took the above picture from the zenith of the Williamsburg Bridge and wondered if one side of the river were disenfranchised and the other side were not, and that had just been accepted for 200 years, whether anyone would still care. I decided New Yorkers were stubborn and they’d care; they’d keep caring. I sipped my paper cup coffee and headed to meet my friends off Delancey.

We headed towards New Hampshire, tackled a litany of tolls and traffic (neither of which phased us, being from DC) and spoke with Ilir Zherka and DC Vote as we left the city. There was optimistic talk of meeting in Concord and collaborating on public testimony with the Mayor, council chair and veterans who lived in New England but were from DC. There was talk of a winter weather advisory, and jokes that if the conference were in DC, the city might cancel its own conference because of snow. After the New Hampshire representatives met to deliberate on DC’s path to democracy, Vince Gray would take us all out to lunch. Optimism was high, and there was a consensus that, with some more time and resources, we could do this in all fifty states.

We arrived in Boston, passed by the Celtics arena and quickly left the same way we came.

It was somewhere on I-93, late Wednesday afternoon, when we learned that, in fact, in snow-resilient New Hampshire, the State House of Representatives had cancelled business for the next day. The day of the hearing on DC voting rights. Because of 4 to 6 inches of predicted snow. New Hampshire. You know, Mount Washington? That New Hampshire.

Some background:

- winds exceeding hurricane force occur an average of 110 days per year.

-Mount Washington once held the world record till 2010 for directly measured surface wind speed, at 231 mph

It was as if DC policy had followed us up to New Hampshire to impose its famously preemptive weather cancellations on New Hampshire. Continued….