A Letter from the J20 Defense Campaign of the Mid-Atlantic General Defense Committee of the IWW

PDF version can be found here

We are asking organizations to endorse our call for all charges related to these protests to be dropped.  We've written a guide for how union members can bring it to a local meeting to endorse it.

We also have a petition for individuals to sign.

On January 20, 2017, thousands took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. During one of the many marches held on Inauguration Day, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department showed the world how it planned to treat dissent moving forward: Shortly after the protest began, hundreds of protesters were attacked with pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons. Police confined over 200 people within a “kettle” for hours before arresting them. Every protester’s cell phone was confiscated as evidence and rooted through. Upon being released, they were handed a riot charge. Months later, US attorneys piled on 8 additional felony charges, including “Conspiracy to Riot”. Protesters now face up to 75 years in prison - all for attending a demonstration.

Among the people arrested were over two dozen members of our union, the Industrial Workers of the World, and its affiliated legal defense and community organizing body, the IWW General Defense Committee (GDC). Within the IWW and GDC, we don't shy away from our members’ politics, and support our members’ rights to express their politics through protests and marches, a tradition that goes back within our union to battles over free speech in the early 20th century.

Since the arrests, D.C. prosecutors and police have shown a disturbing pattern of repression as well as specific targeting of IWW and GDC members. Our members had their union cards and buttons confiscated and held as evidence. Months after the protest, three individuals (including two prominent members of the DC IWW local branch) were served with warrants for their arrest on charges of conspiracy to riot. Prior to their warrants being issued, the prosecutor’s office revealed that they had created separate trial groupings, including one grouping where nearly all defendants were IWW or GDC members. While they will not say as much in public, it has become clear that the city attorneys for Washington, D.C. are treating membership in our union as evidence of a criminal act.

This is not the first time the IWW has been targeted for repression, and it is unlikely to be the last. The crackdown on protesters in D.C. is part of a larger effort to criminalize and silence dissent in working-class and marginalized communities. D.C. is just one of more than a dozen states that are attempting to quell dissent through legislation or harsh legal penalties. This is not a coincidence. People in power want activists and organizations to be afraid to protest Trump’s agenda.

The labor movement cannot succeed if union members are treated as criminals when protesting anti-union and anti-worker politicians and their policies. No social movement can operate in repressive conditions like that. We have always stood by the principle that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” In this spirit, we are calling on our friends and allies in the labor movement, as well as in allied progressive or left groups, to share this letter and pass the following motion within your union local or organization:

“We are deeply concerned about the severe repression against all protesters facing charges for exercising their First Amendment rights on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. We assert our support of the demand to drop the charges against all protesters. We further commit to:

Contacting info@midatlanticgdc.com to add our organization’s name to those endorsing this letter, to be found at www.midatlanticGDC.com/letter

Requesting the appropriate individual post to our organization’s social media accounts that we support this letter

Requesting the appropriate officer or individual send an expression of our support for the above demand to the United States Attorney's Office, ATTN: Channing Phillips, 555 4th Street NW, Washington, DC 20530

Encouraging our members to get involved in the effort to support all defendants at www.defendj20resistance.org and www.midatlanticGDC.com

Endorsing Organizations:

UAW Local 2325 - Assoc. of Legal Aid Attorneys (AFL-CIO)

Socialist Alternative DMV

Industrial Workers of the World -- North American Regional Administration


Industrial Workers of the World -- Seattle General Membership Branch

USI-AIT (Italy) -- Syndicalist Union of Italy

Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter Union -- FAU (Germany) -- Free Worker's Union

Socialist Party, Washington, D.C.

Industrial Workers of the World -- Tampa Bay General Membership Branch

Seattle Solidarity Network

Unia Section of Berne (Switzerland)

Industrial Workers of the World -- Baltimore General Membership Branch




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  • commented 2017-07-20 10:23:54 -0400
    The I.W.W. Protesters will be vendicated after due process passes unguilty in the face of pety bourgeoisie bureaucrats leave after the final wave of a decade of long upheavils that proof the theory of. Left wing Marxist Socialism tatic of radical revolution in the form of direct action and General Strike shared dues in the fiot money system of comrade Welfare State Capitalist in the majority cadres coffers of both Leagues welfare money of the Workers State Taxes in a multi risk civil war money socialist apocolypse event everyday in America Welfare State that has no value over the peasent exchange value of the smaller world orders advice to sell under American products until the world realines under a revolved time of yearly intrest increase without tax equality to aline the social bourgeoisie without a way back from Paid Communist. Advanced fiot money dues converted into Capitalist Welfare State monyless free bank systems blah on your American classes infinite jacob latter we want one class system oCommunism for the final stages. Of. Communist withering of the state pro end of civilizational controls.
  • Mid Atlantic General Defense Committee posted about Letter on Mid Atlantic General Defense Committee's Facebook page 2017-06-25 11:58:00 -0400
    Letter from the J20 Defense Campaign of the Mid-Atlantic GDC Read, share, add your organization's name to the list!
  • published this page 2017-06-25 11:46:10 -0400