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Pressing Amazon to stop cooperating with ICE, with Cata Santiago of Movimiento Cosecha


In this week’s episode we talk to Cata Santiago of Movimiento Cosecha, an immigrants rights organization that is spearheading a campaign against Amazon for its cooperation with ICE and Trump’s deportation machine. The world’s biggest retailer, with the world’s richest man at its helm, is lending technology that is mostly used to crack down on low-wage workers while exploiting its own low-wage workforce. As Amazon workers struck in Europe for better treatment, Cosecha launched actions in the US to pressure Amazon to stop cooperating with ICE.

We went in New York City where we shut down Amazon, where we saw customers not be able to go in, where they locked the doors, and where the lights went off. This action was to come out and be vocal about what is happening and also have this bigger invitation to the immigrant community and to anyone who thinks about what is happening for years against families is not right. So, we have this possible action. An action is planned for July 31st where we are asking people at the local level to bring the mounting pressure through, to ask for ICE contracts to end and calling for local county jails to not be used as detention centers. There are different industries that are also in partnership with ICE. So, it is basically exposing that.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here

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Building the movement for Medicare for All, with Benjamin Day

This week saw the 53rd anniversary of Medicare, created, as Benjamin Day of Healthcare-NOW! points out, in the middle of the upheaval and social movement agitation of the 1960s. Today we are in the middle of similar (and also very different) upheaval, and organizers are using it to build support for expanding Medicare to the rest of the population. I spoke with Day about the building of a Medicare for All caucus in Congress, the upcoming elections, and why street protests are still going to be important to the struggle.

 

I think that there is going to be a few phases of this movement. Right now, there is definitely a focus on the elections and trying to get…really pressuring all candidates to embrace Medicare for All. After this moment is over…and it looks like we will gain quite a few Medicare for All supporters in Congress just through the election process…but, after that, it is going to be sort of another social movement fight to get sitting reps to embrace it like happened last year.
I think what that looks like will really vary depending on whether Democrats retake the House or the Senate. We are kind of preparing the way for that. A lot of our work has been focused on these elections and pressuring candidates when they are most vulnerable and when they are most accountable, I think. But, Phase Two is really going to be doing very targeted organizing the districts of Democrats who should be on board with this bill and they are not yet.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here

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Keeping the pressure on Chuck Schumer and the Democrats, with Liat Olenick of Indivisible Nation BK

Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer has been hearing from his constituents a lot lately, and they’re demanding he stand up and fight. That’s the message brought by Indivisible Nation BK, which has held rallies outside of Schumer’s Brooklyn home, his Manhattan office, and elsewhere demanding that Schumer unify the Democrats in standing up to Trumpism and Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. I spoke to Liat Olenick of Indivisible Nation BK about the group’s mission, and how it came together around the idea that someone should hold elected officials accountable.

Indivisible is all about holding your own elected officials accountable. As a Brooklyn group, we meet in Prospect Heights, Boerum Hill, Park Slope area, we’re literally in his backyard, we’re right near his house. We do have members from all over Brooklyn but because we’re so close to him we kind of feel a special responsibility to continue to hold him accountable and put pressure on him to be the leader that we need right now.
All elected officials are there for one reason, because they were elected by people going out and voting for them. When we signal to our representatives what we want them to do or that we are thankful for something or that we are disappointed in actions that they have taken, they pay attention because they want to, ultimately, get reelected and stay in office. The whole Indivisible model is based on that. We, especially with Chuck Schumer, take that really seriously because we are in his backyard and also because he is the most powerful Democrat in the country right now and more than anybody else, we need really strong consistent clear leadership coming from him and his office.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here

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Occupy and abolish ICE, with George Ciccariello-Maher

Around the country, as the demand to abolish ICE spreads, occupations of its offices are springing up. In many of the cities where such occupations exist, they have heightened contradictions between the proclamations of “sanctuary” by elected officials wanting to look progressive, and those officials’ actual policies of repressing protest. George Ciccariello-Maher, an activist and academic, has taken part in the Occupy ICE encampment in Philadelphia and joins me to discuss the evolution of the tactic and demand, the relationship of movements to self-proclaimed progressive mayors, and more.

I think we are used to abolitionist language seeming really extreme or long-term or pie in the sky, and yet, we have seen this claim take root and spread. Partly because of the real brutality of what ICE is doing and the transparency of what is going on. I think it is also really important to remember that one of the first things I think we should do as analysts, but also as movement organizers is to historicize, to think about the fact that ICE is not that old. ICE is a new institution. ICE has not been around very long. Abolishing it really should not be that difficult. That points both towards the potential and the possibility of this claim to actually come about. I think that is why you see many Democrats, or some Democrats at least, talking about the abolition of ICE, but it also points toward the dangers because we are in a strange situation where you are talking about abolishing something, but it is really just an intermediate demand because the last thing we want is to see ICE simply replaced by INS, by Border Patrol doing the same exact work or going back to an old status quo which is not good enough for us. I think we need to be very careful to tether the demand to abolish ICE to the demand to not replace it. This is actually what a lot of Democrats have been insisting on, “We will find a better replacement.” No. We don’t want any replacement for this. We want to roll back the powers that have been granted even to Border Patrol in recent decades and the dramatic expansion of that agency and the dramatic expansion of its budget and expansion of its ground force on the border. We want a radical transformation, ultimately, that points toward border abolition by the end.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here

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The Supreme Court and the corporate class, with Saqib Bhatti

The Supreme Court last week handed down decisions in Trump’s Muslim ban case, in the public sector labor union case Janus v. AFSCME, and more, decisions that will harm working people, particularly people of color. But most of the time these decisions are talked about separately from one another, and from other Trumpist attacks on immigrants and working people. Saqib Bhatti of the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) joins me to talk about them all together, contextualizing the slant of the Supreme Court these days and the shape of the struggle to fight back.

Looking at these issues, what is really important to understand is the connections between “Who are the corporate actors that are actually bad across all of these issues?” One of the things that we are seeing is with a lot of these things, the thing that people love to do with the Muslim ban is really beat up on Trump or say, “This is a terrible decision by the Supreme Court,” but the reality is we can raise those concerns all we want and it doesn’t actually hurt Trump for us to be saying, “He is anti-Muslim, he is racist.” In fact, it actually helps him with his base. With a lot of the politicians we are seeing that the reason why they are actually appealing to white supremacists is because they realize that it actually helps them. The way for us to take them on, while it is important to call out those politicians for what they are and what they are doing, we can’t stop there because at the end of the day that is not going to be an effective way to move them. Especially now if we are seeing the Supreme Court that in the coming years is likely to be stacked by far right ideologues, it seems like the avenue to fight on these fights only in the discourse of public sector and government is going to be going away. That is why it is truly important to look at, “Who are the corporations that these politicians are beholden to? Who are the corporations whose agenda the Supreme Court is carrying out?” and really show some of these connections. What we have found in our research is that a lot of the same companies that are really profiting off the mass incarceration system, that are really profiting from our immigrant policies, that are supporting politicians that are anti-Muslim and support policies like the Muslim ban, these are actually a lot of the same corporations, and by the way, those are also the same corporations that are responsible for defunding the public sector because they don’t pay their fair share in taxes.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. You can now subscribe on iTunes! Previous interviews here